GovEvents recently surveyed its members to get a pulse on how the government community is utilizing events for career growth and networking. The survey looked at how attendees and organizers were mixing in-person and virtual events and what drove decisions to attend.
In this survey, 69% of respondents reported attending one or more in-person events (with 1-2 events being the most common) while 93% said they attended one or more online events (29% reported 10 or more). Respondents also said they would likely maintain these levels in 2023.
These numbers show the continued embrace and availability of online events likely due to the convenience factor. What these numbers do not show is the engagement people have with those 10+ events they attend online or the demographics of who is attending in-person. We dug into those numbers and discovered some interesting trends across civilian, military, state and local, education, and health.
Saluting the Return of In-Person Events
Military respondents overwhelmingly preferred in-person events. 84% of military respondents said they attended between one and five in-person events as compared to 57% within the federal civilian and the state and local verticals. This in-person attendance seems to be in place of online as 58% of military respondents say they attended just one or two online events and no respondent report attending 10 or more. To reach a DoD audience, consider prioritizing in-person events.
Breaking the Bunny Slipper Barrier
Federal Civilian and State and Local attendees are attending in-person events, but are doing so very selectively. To coax people out of their home offices (and out of their slippers) there needs to be a clearly defined value. If given the choice of online or in person, around a third of respondents from both Federal Civilian and State and Local say they would choose the online option no matter what, but there is another third that responded "maybe" to attending in person. Flipping those maybes to in person requires clearly communicating what they will be able to do or see in person that they will not get online. The length of the event also factors into the decision. State and Local respondents said that for a day-long event they would be much more likely to attend in person.
Takeaways for Event Organizers
Looking beyond the percentages, the survey provided some perspective for planning events in 2023 and beyond.
- Clearly communicate the value of the event. What will people gain from attending? What will they see or hear at the event that they will not get anywhere else?
- Create ways to engage online. People may report attending 10 or more online events, but how many of those are playing as background to the work day. Online events are convenient, but they are also easier to disengage from. Make online events interactive to increase the chance that attendees will take action post-event.
- Hybrid does not have to be concurrent. To drive more people to live events, delay posting recordings until after the event concludes. Re-package long sessions as more digestible bites of video to make it easier to watch and also increase the number of touchpoints you have in promoting the event content.
- Know your vertical. If DoD or Health is your audience, confidently go with an in-person event. For education professionals online is the best medium to reach them.
- Keep an eye on back-to-office trends. If people start working more and more in the office, events that are located close to the HQs of target agencies may get better in person numbers. If telework continues at current rates, in person events in suburban locations or online may get better turnout.