Government Event Market Remains Consistent

Last month we surveyed GovEvents' organizer members to get a pulse on what they are seeing in the government events' market. The common theme we found is that the environment for government events seems to be stable and unchanging.

This is good news in the wake of the GSA event scandal that dealt a big hit to the government events' market in 2012 and 2013, but should we get comfortable with this status quo? First, let's look at some of the stats:

  • 61% of respondents said they are planning the same number of events as they did a year ago.
  • 42% of organizations said they are spending the same amount of money on events as they did last year.
  • 57% of respondents said that attendance at events is about the same as it was a year ago with 29% noting a rise.[Tweet "GovEvents Survey Findings: Government Event Market Remains Consistent. #GovEventsBlog"]

These findings were similar to those discovered by Market Connections earlier this year. In that survey of government employees, the results showed that event attendance continued to be flat for the last couple of years after seeing an uptick after the issues around the GSA event were addressed.

Our survey also asked if the policies of the new administration were having any impact on event attendance. The respondents were split about 50/50 on how the administration change and current climate are impacting the ability and willingness of government employees to attend events.

All indications are that event attendance will remain at current levels for the foreseeable future unless the event industry makes some changes. If the community is looking to encourage people to attend more events, what needs to be done with those events currently on the calendar, and what do future events need to look like? Here are some tips we pulled from the survey findings:[Tweet "All indications are that government event attendance will remain at current levels. #GovEventsBlog"]

  • Plan ahead - an interesting finding in our survey is that nearly 80% say that it takes 30 days or more for government employees to get approval to attend conferences with a fee. To garner more attendees, make sure you are promoting your event well ahead of the date and offering incentives (i.e. lower prices) for signing up early. Another option is making events free to government attendees to speed up the approval process.
  • Use email - a whopping 70% of respondents said the majority of their registrants come from their email campaigns. Social media came in at a distant second at 13%. Make sure your email campaigns are getting people's attention (and getting opened!) as it's the best way to drive registrations. We'll do some future posts on this topic...check back soon!
  • Focus on conversion - we asked, "What is your biggest challenge as an event organizer in the government space?" We got a wide variety of answers, but the one that came up most often was converting registrants to attendees. We think this is most problematic for free events that only see around 40-50% of registrants convert to attendees. We'll do some research for a future post with some tips to increase the registrant to attendee conversion.
  • Think visually - Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn -- in that order -- are still the "big three" when it comes to social media use for events. More than 70% of respondents use one or more of those platforms. The next most popular is Instagram with a respectable 28% usage rate. We'll take a closer look at how planners and attendees alike can use Instagram to enhance their event experience in a future post. In related visual news, 31% of respondents said they've added streaming video into their events.[Tweet "Multi-day events are becoming increasingly rare in the government event space. #GovEventsBlog"]
  • Look for hot topics - our survey found that cybersecurity is currently the hottest topic for government events. Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data ran second and third, respectively, in terms of popularity.
  • Go short - when we asked, "What are you seeing as the current trends in government events (size, scope, types of speakers, length of event, etc...)?" - we again got a wide variety of answers, but many people mentioned how event lengths have decreased. Multi-day events are becoming increasingly rare. Many also reported seeing less traditional keynotes and more interactive workshops at these events.
  • Go mobile - 50% of respondents added a mobile app to their event over the past two years. These apps are getting easier to create without the help of developers, thanks to online templates and open source tools. These mobile apps add a level of convenience to attendees.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on these findings. Do you agree with what our members had to say? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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