Conference Attendees Prefer In-Person Events To Virtual

Among those who have attended both in-person and virtual conferences, expectations on what the two formats should deliver vary significantly. Data from a survey conducted for online promotional products provider PromoLeaf of 1,008 respondents who have attended both face-to-face and virtual events also shows that 72 percent would prefer an in-person conference over a virtual one.

The survey also found that respondents would pay more for in-person events, and 80 percent would only be willing to pay $200 or less for a virtual conference. The data also shows that 82 percent believe a virtual conference should last less than two hours while only 51 percent believe in-person conferences should be less than two hours long. Also, 46 percent said virtual conferences should be live and two-directional, and an additional 38 percent said they would prefer virtual conferences to be both live and recorded for viewing later.

While many businesses see pluses of virtual conferences, there are some challenges that have yet to be overcome. Among them is that an attendee may not see the value of an online conference versus one that is held in person, with 35 percent saying they would pay less than $100 for a virtual conference. They may also not understand the costs involved in hosting a virtual conference. Attendees may see online conferences similar to free webinars, and expect to be "sold" something online, rather than getting a real benefit, the survey found.

PromoLeaf notes that the willingness to pay can be overcome by being clear about the purpose of the conference and its benefits. And in light of recent events, virtual conferences may be more viable short term.

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