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Content delivery becoming more challenging, but rewarding

Providing knowledge and education continue to be top priorities for associations, but with members’ demographics and preferences becoming increasingly more diverse, delivering educational content is becoming more challenging.

That’s according to a new report by Ominpress on the state of the 2019 conference industry. 

“With four generations attending conferences today, attendee preferences and expectations are more diverse and complex than ever,” says Jonny Popp, general manager of Omnipress. “In response, meeting planners have continued to increase the number of ways in which they deliver conference materials to attendees.” 

In addition, for the first time since the 2015 original report, this year’s report found budgets were also expected to increase accordingly. 

However, Popp says meeting planners still lack the appropriate resources to deliver content in the most desirable format.

Omnipress found some organizations are providing content for conferences in up to four different formats, per attendees’ requests, despite the challenges. Most content is a combination of open call and invited information, with a conference committee primarily deciding what content to provide.

Other key findings:

  • Session presentations are the top source of content associations provide, followed by speaker bios and awards. 
  • Online and digital materials are the most popular forms of content, while conference apps take a close second. Fifty-five percent of respondents reported that print is the most common delivery format.
  • Attendees’ preferences are switching to short-form, visual and interactive content, which presents challenges for content delivery.
  • Twenty percent of respondents plan to change the number of formats used to provide content.
  • The greatest content challenge is making last-minute changes. 
  • Providing mobile-friendly content will be the largest emerging trend this year.
  • While associations continue to repurpose content, most are using content to promote the following year’s event.

“A five-year measurement of current and future predictions by meeting planners shows a potentially significant decline for certain formats — most notably print,” Omnipress sayd. “But this has yet to materialize. Organizations are still hesitant to completely abandon print in favor of digital content, and are instead opting to offer both.”

It should be noted, Ominpress says, that Generation Z will have an impact on program content. 

If associations can connect with this generation on its terms, it could result in substantial engagement and growth. However, according to the report, only 11 percent of those surveyed have developed a strategy to deliver content to Gen Z, but 42 percent say they’re working on it.

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