Give attendees a reason to leave the house

As pandemic precautions wane and in-person meetings and events resume, business leaders and corporate event planners may have started to notice a shift in attendance and engagement. According to Skift Meetings and their annual State of Business Events report, in-person meetings are experiencing their own form of long COVID, where workers have become habitually used to working remotely and therefore need more of a reason than ever before to meet face-to-face.

“Attendees are less inclined to attend in person if they can get comparable value at home, and this is compounded by a number of interrelated factors including inflation, rising fuel costs, compromised budgets, and unreliable travel,” the report stated.

The report concluded that 77.4% of folks are finding it more difficult to compel meeting/event attendees to attend in-person as compared to 2019, and 32.7% of those consider it to be a major issue.

So how can you compel a workforce that is already so used to logging in and engaging from the comfort of their home?

Play Up the Networking
Whether employees have never worked in the same space as their coworkers, or it’s been a few years since they’ve been together, there is a real benefit to networking with like-minded professionals. Further, if the in-person meeting is bringing together a host of professionals from different locations or industries, it’s a great opportunity for folks to exchange best practice knowledge, learn about business techniques from peers, or stay on top of industry developments. A wide network of informed contacts equals constant access to new and valuable information.

As you’re planning an in-person event, look for ways to promote the networking benefits, including a list of key professionals or speakers that attendees can anticipate meeting.

Make the Event Valuable
If an attendee can learn valuable information in a breakout group or via a keynote speaker that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to find online, then the meeting or event will be seen as more important or relevant.

If you’re hosting a larger event or conference, include breakouts like speed networking or lightning talks where speakers cover a niche topic in under five minutes. If you’re hosting a smaller company-wide meeting, create opportunities for roundtables where attendees can discuss specific workplace or industry topics that they’re interested in. Roundtable groups can share opinions, debate (in a friendly manner), or have in-depth conversations about situations or challenges that they face in their roles.

Let Them Eat (Cake or Other Tasty Snacks)
Pass on the table of stale donuts and up the ante with a catered lunch and specialty snacks for attendees to munch on throughout the day. If attendees are giving up their work-from-home routine to be with you in-person, one of the easiest ways to express gratitude is by feeding them well.

Find snacks or beverages that are unique to your local landscape. If you’re local to Lynchburg, that could include Route 11 chips, Odyssey Chocolate bars, or Grains of Sense coffee as quick pick-me-ups throughout the day. Talk with one of the many talented caterers in your area or a locally loved restaurant about catering morning bagels or mid-day tacos to keep guests energized.

Make It Easy
Finally, make it easy. If you choose a meeting or event destination that’s cumbersome to travel to (i.e., too remote or too far away), then your chances of folks declining your invitation to an in-person meeting become higher.

As it’s been mentioned, employees have become accustomed to working from home, which means they have zero commute time. While it’s certainly reasonable to expect some level of commute for an in-person event, you want to avoid travel plans that feel like a challenge.