Designing the Decision to Attend Study

This one-of-a-kind industry is in the final stages of design -- and you can be a beta tester.

Meeting of eight business patners each epresenting his view and idea about how to lead an organizationPhase I of the Decision to Attend Study — a joint project of PCMA, IAEE, ASAE, MPI, DMAI, and The EXPERIENCE Institute — surveyed thousands of members of 10 different associations to determine the general preferences and predilections of meeting attendees. Phase II involves the creation of a “behavioral profile template” — a comprehensive matrix designed to track how a particular meeting’s attendees feel about nine “destination differentiators,” including cost, accessibility, ease of getting around, family friendliness, F&B, and group services.

The template is in beta-testing throughout 2016, with DMOs and their planner clients completing the form, then returning it along with general feedback to The EXPERIENCE Institute, which will make adjustments. “The vision is to use the template as a tool for guiding the conversation between the planner and the DMO, identifying the top three to five behavioral traits,” said EXPERIENCE Institute CEO Mickey Schaefer, CAE, CTA. “Then, once identified, the DMO marketing or services team and the group’s marketing team can work together to surgically target their promotions — matching the profile to what the destination offers.”

Mary Gallagher, CMP, director of convention sales for the Eastern region at the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, went through beta-testing with several clients, including Beth Ellis, executive director of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). “It really just helped us peel back the layers,” Gallagher said. “It wasn’t just a surface qualifying of a group. It really dug deeper into what the attendees would want. It was also a great tool for conversation, because it allowed the planners to hone in on what the attendee experience would be like in L.A.”

Ellis agreed. “It was a good process for both of us,” she said. “I think we both learned things.” For NECA, that included “focusing on the city and what they have to offer, and the angle that you need to go after in promoting the city for your event.”

Jamie Rice, regional director of national accounts at the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, beta-tested the template with Raquel Irby, CMP, senior manager of event services for the American Trucking Associations (ATA), concentrating on an ATA program in Raleigh this September. “The most interesting part of it was that the answers for this meeting for the American Trucking Associations would not be the same as for other meetings with the American Trucking Associations,” Rice said. “It really kept away any assumptions that you might have with that group.”

Irby thinks the template will help in two ways. “The process and results will help the city gain an in-depth knowledge behind our organization’s goals, attendee profile, and our event’s purpose, so that they can better meet our needs,” she said. “The results also help us, as the event-planning team of our organization, learn how the city and our venue(s) can benefit our attendees through services and amenities.”

All DMOs and planners are invited to beta-test the template. For additional information, including FAQs and a link to the template.

Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso is executive editor of Convene.