May 9, 2022 | By Joyce DiMascio | Photo: Arinex CEO Nicole Walker | Credit: Oneill Photographics

For event organisers the financial performance of events is linked to the painstaking monitoring of registrations – when they come in and how many. It’s an obsession.

Arinex has shed new light on how delegates are approaching registering for events. Two years into a pandemic, the company which organises hundreds of events in many different industry sectors says different patterns have emerged.

They have analysed the trends across 55 events held in the period leading up to November 2021.

Data included 1,387 registrations for face-to-face events, 8,539 registrations for virtual events and 1,300 registrations for hybrid events across national and international association events.

The message from Arinex CEO Nicole Walker is that it is time to get comfortable with late registrations.

She said many event professionals have noticed registrations performing differently than in pre-pandemic years.

“Despite international travel resuming, attendees are still cautious about committing too early for fear of having to cancel plans and being financially impacted,” she said.

“Attendance at a virtual conference, or the virtual component of a hybrid event, involves less forward planning and therefore less urgency to click the purchase button.”

Most telling is that 35 per cent of virtual event attendees registered within just seven days of an event. She said there was a further spike of nine percent two days out from virtual events.

The analysis showed that attendees of virtual events register much later than those of physical and hybrid events, which attracted 18 per cent and seven per cent respectively within the same timeframe.

Thirty-nine per cent of registrations for physical events came between eight and 30 days prior to the event, while 62 per cent of registrations for hybrid events came between 31 and 60 days before the event.

Walker deduced that because there is the option to transfer a registration from physical to virtual at a hybrid event, it gives attendees the confidence to book earlier than for purely physical events.

She advised the industry not to panic if targets were not met a week or two out from an event.

“Targeted marketing activity should continue right up to the event taking place to convert late decision-makers,” she said.

“For all event types, there is opportunity to rethink promotional strategies to encourage earlier registrations, such as extending the early bird deadline or offering incentives such as VIP benefits and experiences.”

Walker also proposed investing in marketing post event.

“If your budget allows for quality recordings of sessions, there is now significant potential to increase audience reach, engagement and profitability through on-demand access post event.”

At one of its more recent national association virtual events, the 28th Australian Orthodontic Congress in March 2022, registrations almost doubled to 547 just two weeks before the event.

Walker’s message to the industry is that it was difficult to predict how registration trends would change as confidence and travel increased and more face-to-face events resumed. However, being flexible and adaptable in event planning and delivery would improve the success of any event, she said.