Hybrid Hour: Growing with Less
Key Learnings from Bobby Myers, Director of Operations, NCCE
Guest bio: Bobby Myers serves as Director of Operations for NCCE, a non-profit group based in Idaho with about 5,000 members. He’s been in event production for seven years, but 2021 was first time he produced a virtual annual meeting.
Looking back: In early March 2020, NCCE was able to host its annual meeting and trade show in-person at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. It was the last live, in-person trade show at the venue before it shut down as the pandemic was beginning to spread near Seattle.
Milestone moment: In March 2021, NCCE celebrated its 50th anniversary with a virtual event as in-person was not even remotely an option for this group of educators who typically meet in the Northwest. The non-profit generates a majority of its revenue from its annual meeting and trade show, so it was imperative that the group meet.
Key Learnings from #NCCE21:
Growth in attendance year over year. In 2020, NCCE drew 1,400 attendees, while the virtual event attracted 1,700. Online attendance exceeded in-person.
But registration fees were lower. For the group’s in-person event, the registration fee ranges from $350 for early-bird pricing to $450. For the virtual event, the registration fee ranged from $50 for the first 500 people (to celebrate its 50th anniversary to $79 to $99. The virtual event pricing includes on demand content. “On demand meeting content should be a revenue generator if it’s marketed right,” Myers said.
Expanded geographical reach. The group attracted speakers from a larger geographic area. “It was easier for some speakers to commit to an online session that required less time and no travel,” Myers said. “With virtual, we are hoping to grow our attendance base beyond the Northwest region of the U.S.”
Trending on social. Attendees engaged and promoted the #NCCE21 via social channels like Twitter. “We were trending the Northwest during three days of the event,” Myers said.
Record number of sponsors. NCCE put together sponsorship packages that included the virtual annual meeting and other digital options to reach members year-round. NCCE sold a record number of sponsors, but the trade show included fewer vendors/exhibitors.
Made less but spent less. The bottom line: NCCE generated less revenue from its annual meeting in 2021, but the group also reduced its expenses on travel, F&B, WiFi, A/V, and other vendor fees to produce to the virtual event. The event was in the black but only in the $1000s, Myers said. NCCE was able to generate more revenue from other professional development products and services to make up for some of the lost revenues from the in-person event.
Advice to other event organizers: Do less. #NCCE21 offered 250 sessions over the course of four days online. “Pare down what you think you need,” Myers said. “Attendees had so many choices, maybe too many. The session rooms may have been fuller – which would be nicer for our speakers – if there were fewer content options.”
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Danica Tormohlen is an Award-Winning Journalist, Content Strategist and Omnichannel Media Pro. For trade show industry news and analysis, follow her on Twitter @DanicaTormohlen.