A session at the 5th Annual Global Pharmaceutical and Medical Meetings Summit, which took place Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 in Philadelphia, offered some pointers on trends in audience engagement that may be relevant to conference planners in any field.
The session highlighted the results of a survey administered by Ashfield Meetings & Events, Ivyland, PA, to health care professionals (HCPs) that asked about their meeting attendance along with some broader questions on the role of meetings in their overall learning journey and the criteria they used to evaluate them.
Following are some of the survey findings that you may find useful in planning your next conference or event:
1. Face-to-Face Counts
According to the survey, meetings are second only to professional journals and publications when it comes to how HCPs obtain medical information and education. Face-to-face meetings facilitate the exchange of ideas with the right people, meetings with other specialists and key opinion leaders, allow for interaction and debate and provide opportunity to learn about new findings and studies.
A whopping 88 percent of respondents felt that meeting organizers should offer seamless service for attendees, beginning with event registration, travel and accommodation all the way through to post-meeting materials via a meeting portal website. Nearly 40 percent said they have not had a positive attendee experience at many of the meetings they have attended.
3. Meeting Length
The average HCP’s ideal meeting length is 2.17 days or 6.79 hours. The maximum number of average hours they are willing to travel is a total of 3.65 days.
HCPs face a number of challenges that make them think twice about picking up and heading out to attend a meeting. Here, in order of priority are: Managing workload when away from the practice (63 percent); cost of attendance (55 percent); organizing travel and accommodation (46 percent); compiling meeting materials (21 percent), going to multiple sources to get the information they need for an event (21 percent) and registering for the event (16 percent).
A single communications platform or website for registration and ongoing communications was preferred by 70 percent of respondents. Among the reasons cited: to simplify information and paperwork, save time, effort, energy and money and convenience.
When it comes to planning the program agenda, three-fourths of the respondents would like to have greater input, and only 15 percent said they are often asked to do so. A little more than a third (36 percent) said they have never been asked for input.