Freeman event research: New audiences for eve...
Freeman event research

New audiences for events – with new expectations

Photo: Amol Tyagi on Unsplash

Research conducted by Freeman indicates, that "Great Reshuffle" brings new audiences to events – but a new set of expectations, too. This is the key result of the analysis of the sentiment and behaviours of current event attendees.

"While many in the industry want to draw comparisons to 2019, looking back really isn't the best reference point given all the change that has happened", said Ken Holsinger, SVP Strategy at Freeman. "The choice is to focus on recovery by going back to doing the same things, or grabbing the opportunity for growth by changing approaches because everything is different."

Compared with 2019 numbers, event attendance is averaging 64%. But attendance numbers are only part of the story as verification rates (those who register vs. those who attend) are showing significant decline. Freeman research found that attrition has gone from an average of 20% pre-covid to 50% post-covid and is likely based on consumer expectations of an ability to easily cancel and the generous cancellation policies by airlines and others that allow for it.
„Grabbing the opportunity for growth by changing approaches.“
Ken Holsinger, SVP strategy, Freeman
When event attendees were asked to rank the importance of event elements, expectations varied based on the in-person or virtual format of the event. For in-person events, exhibits and networking top the list followed by special events, education, and keynotes/general sessions. Those attending virtual events, rank education first followed by keynotes/general sessions and then networking, exhibits and special events.

The insights are based on a compilation of more than two years of industry data and research, including syndicated, primary, and third-party research, and are focused on North American show attendees and show exhibitors.