PLENARY The Decision to Attend Study
Why do people go to meetings and conventions? It’s a simple-seeming question that likely has no one,
simple answer. And it’s led PCMA, the Interna-
tional Association of Exhibitions and Events,
and The EXPERIENCE Institute to partner on
The Decision to Attend Study, which aims to
explore “the myriad behavioral and societal
factors that comprise the reasons individuals
decide to attend — or not attend — conventions
and exhibitions.” The idea is to go beyond the
traditional “group profile” by gaining deeper
insights into attendees’ needs and preferences.
Phase One of the study, which drew more
than 7, 100 responses from members of 10
different associations serving a wide range
of industries, is now available. Phase Two will
continue throughout 2015, gathering input
from both sides of the industry — meeting
and exhibition professionals, and DMOs and
other suppliers — through chapter programs,
surveys, sessions, articles, and webinars. The
goal is to develop a behavioral profile that
meeting professionals can use as part of
site selection, promotional strategies, and
targeted messaging — all to help maximize
Here are key findings from Phase One:
Propensity to Attend
MOST IF NOT ALL 92% of all
respondents — and 94% of Gen X and
Gen Y respondents — are likely to
STILL POPULAR More than two thirds
are attending more or about the same
number of meetings as they were
EDUCATION 95% of respondents
indicate that education and content
STAYING ABREAST 91% of all
respondents say that keeping up with
their industry is an important reason
for attending meetings.
DE S T INAT IO N 82% report that a
meeting’s destination factors into their
decision to attend.
N E T WO RKI NG 75% of all respondents
— and 84% of Gen X respondents —
consider networking and making
SOCIALIZING 72% indicate a strong
desire for opportunities for social
interaction and discussion.
SOCIAL MEDIA Only 40% consider
opportunities to engage with other
attendees via social media an
important or very important benefit
S TAY A WHILE More than half
of respondents say they’re likely
to extend their stay in a meeting
destination or turn their visit into a
PLUS ONE Nearly half will likely bring
someone with them.
ROAMING 76% of all respondents —
and 85% of Gen Y respondents — like to
get “out and about” in the destination.
DÉJÀ VU 84% of respondents would
return to the same meeting in the
same destination if they had a positive
experience the first time, while 78%
would return for a different meeting.
REPEAT BUSINESS More than 75%
would return to a destination for a
leisure visit if they had a positive
experience during a meeting held there.
Only 4% would do so if they had a
WORD OF MOUTH 85% of respondents
are likely to recommend a meeting to
others — and 83% a destination — if it
met or exceeded their expectations.
TALK TALK TALK More than 90%
consider a face-to-face conversation
the ideal method for communicating a
positive or negative experience, with
email, Facebook, phone, and text also
ranking in the top five.
SURVE Y SAYS More than 80% of
respondents say they’d be likely to
provide feedback on the meeting or
destination experience through a mobile
or online survey if it were quick and easy.
MUST HAVE 75% consider these things
important or very important to the
destination experience, in descending
order: transportation options; safe;
clean; wayfinding; welcoming/friendly;
service-oriented; and variety of things
to see and do.
BORN TO RUN 87% say they’d take two
to four trips a year if time and money
were no object.
EXPERIENCED More than 60%
of respondents consider themselves
“expert” or “seasoned” travelers
who are able to “navigate just