Surveying the Government Event Landscape

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.

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

For more results and insights from our 2023 event landscape survey check out this two-part presentation that takes a deep dive into the findings - Part 1, Part 2.

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In-person events are back in force, but we're all a little rusty at networking. Anyone who has attended an in-person event recently has likely had the conversation with fellow attendees, "Wow, I'm not sure how to do this anymore." To help us all get back in our groove, we wanted to pull together a list of tried and true as well as some new tips to make your attendance at the next government networking event feel a bit more natural. Continue reading

Agility. Enabled by Agile.

Agility has been a key attribute for success over the past year and a half. Everyone had to quickly adapt in their personal and professional lives to do things in new ways to keep business and society running. Even the great bureaucracy of government found itself pivoting and quickly changing "how it's always been done" to meet the needs of the day. This should not end with the return to what feels like pre-pandemic normal. In the form of Agile methodology, Agility will play a huge role in the government's ability to continue the fast-forwarded digital push as a result of the pandemic.

Just as government pushed agencies to try Cloud with the "Cloud First" initiative, some are suggesting the same approach for Agile. An "Agile-First" evolution would have a huge impact on IT modernization efforts, accelerating the move from legacy processes and technology to a modern digital approach. The response to COVID-19 showed that the government can move quickly in changing how they do work (across all areas of government). An Agile-first "mandate" could institutionalize that speed and make it the rule rather than the exception.

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In-Person Events a “Go” for Government — But Don’t Take Away the Online Option

This May, after the CDC updated their public health guidance around masking and social distancing for vaccinated individuals, GovEvents surveyed its members to find out what government professionals were comfortable with in terms of in-person events. Feedback from event planners at the beginning of 2021 showed they were beginning to plan toward a hybrid event schedule, looking to introduce in-person events in the late summer or fall. Now that schedule seems to be a reality based both on health guidance and attendee attitudes.

The GovEvents survey of 275+ public sector professionals found that nearly 75% of respondents would be comfortable attending an event in-person sometime in 2021.

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Put Down the Phone, Let’s Get Active!

In recent posts on gamification and IoT we talked about some ways to use technology to better engage modern event audiences. While the tech is here to stay and it is important to integrate it into events, every new twist you add does not have to involve technology.[Tweet "Every new twist you add to events does not have to involve technology. #GovEventsBlog"]

In a recent survey, 99% of respondents said that in-person meetings have helped them succeed in their careers. Meetings are seen as critical to business and personal success and the rise in spending on attending them (both in the general market and the federal market) backs up that belief. Attendees want more than a technology-heavy experience (they get that in other facets of their work day). They want experiences that are uniquely real world. So how do event planners keep events fresh without making them a virtual reality experience?[Tweet "How do event planners keep events fresh without making them a virtual reality experience?"] Continue reading