• ESAE

A brief look into the changing needs of delegates of an association conference

COVID-19 has changed the way of attending conferences. A lot has been written about the planning of events, but much more important are the delegates participating at these conferences. What has changed and what do they consider, as important future trends to watch? How do association planners cope with the current changes and what can we learn from this and incorporate into our daily business?



Conferli conducted a market research to come up with some insights on the changing needs of the delegates. The Report shows some valuable insights and some first conclusions. Trends and conclusions about the findings are drafted and now it will be time to reflect on this and to further research what long and short-term effects there will be. In this article, you will read the main trends and conclusions. To read the entire report please use this link.

Top 3 reasons to attend a conference: * Educational Program ( learning new skills, hearing about trends and best practices) * Networking * Share knowledge with other delegates with other delegates


100% of the respondents stated that this changed because of the pandemic. On the question “which of these topics became more important due to the pandemic”, 92% answered that networking became more important, 42% answered that the educational program and the possibility to meet with several suppliers or customers in one place became more important.


Booking window has changed: The far majority is making their travel arrangements 1 month prior to the conference. This is an important trend to watch so that organizers can keep this in mind when deciding how and when to spend their marketing budgets especially with room blocks and ticket registrations being later than in the past, or how to communicate towards your delegates about possible increase in travel costs due to the late decision making. 67% stated that the booking window became shorter because of uncertainties around the pandemic.


Furthermore, New decision criteria play a more important role: Sustainability and legacy have become factors of decision-making, how do you take these new criteria into account in marketing communications and the strategic planning of the conference.


Size of the meetings: Smaller more specialized conferences that last between 2 and 3 days gained on popularity over the larger and longer conferences. It shows that also the more regional conferences are wining in popularity due to delegates being more conscious of how to spend their time.


The top five criteria associations use for selecting a new conference destination are as follows: (from 1 being most popular)

1) Travel Distance from the airport 75%

2) Match with ecosystem (intellectual capital) of the organization (70%)

3) Health Regulations (55%)

4) Diversity of site event possibilities (45%)

5) Diversity of Hotel accommodation (35%)


For Associations it shows that there is an increasing work effort on attracting attendees: 90% of the respondents experience that it takes more effort to attract enough delegates to their conferences, due to the uncertain current situation in the world. Actions that are currently taken to work on these challenges are increasing marketing awareness, flexibility in cancellation policies, partnering with destinations are a few of the taken actions.



About Conferli

Conferli is a conference matchmaking platform for organizers, venues and destinations. Our aim is to level out the playing field in the event industry, enabling events of all shapes and sizes to find best-suiting destinations - easily and efficiently.


We do that by creating access to independent benchmarking data, supported by smart technology and fueled by our passion for the conference world.


www.conferli.com