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Stats: 70 Percent of Americans Prefer In-Person Conferences

While virtual conferences are a convenient and inexpensive option, a recent survey from PromoLeaf revealed that over 70 percent of participants prefer to attend conferences in-person. 

Among the reasons that in-person meetings are preferred are: The best networking usually happens in person (it’s hard to get the same effect online); body language and subtle communication cues don’t come across as well via video chatting; and vendors and service providers can’t provide the same level of examples and demonstrations virtually as they can in person.

In an effort to help organizers put together a more efficient virtual event that's actually going to attract attendees, PromoLeaf asked virtual conference-goers their overall preferences towards them. What they found: In the respondents aged 16 to 24, an even larger percentage prefer in-person conferences; in fact, in this youngest group of respondents, over 85 percent prefer in-person conferences over virtual ones. Those aged 35 to 44 and 25 to 34 are the groups with the least and second least preference for in-person conferences (although they were all at least two-thirds in favor of in-person meetings).

Another issue that arises with online conferences is the willingness of participants to pay what conference organizers would say would be a fair price. Over 45 percent of respondents would pay between $100 and $200 for a virtual conference, and the mean number respondents would pay is just over $150; just 10 percent would be willing to pay $300 or more for a virtual conference. Reasons for this include the fact that attendees may not see the value of an online conference versus one that is held in person; they also may not understand the costs involved in hosting a virtual conference or they may see online conferences similar to free webinars, and expect to be sold something online, rather than getting a real benefit.

When asked the ideal length for a virtual conference, a majority (59 percent) of respondents opted for one to two hours as the ideal length, with the mean response being about three-and-one-third hours. Additionally, Wednesday is the best day to host a virtual conference (34 percent of respondents picking this), with Tuesday being the second most preferred day of the week (25 percent); the best time of day to host a virtual conference is in the morning (56 percent of respondents preferred)

The study, conducted by CensusWide for PromoLeaf, surveyed over 1,000 conference participants throughout the United States and across a wide variety of industries and age groups.

Source: PromoLeaf

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