A Strategy For Boosting Conference Attendance

November 21, 2019

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One association’s solution to declining conference attendance was to work with the host city’s CVB to sell a few previously unsatisfied attendees on a new location.

The problem. In 2017, the Association for Creative Industries (AFCI) moved its annual Creativation show from its long-time home in Anaheim, California, to Phoenix. For the next two years, attendance dropped.

The tactics. Knowing that AFCI needed to reverse the trend, Andria Gibbon, former vice president of events and education, and her team brainstormed ways they could change attendees’ minds about the location. They also involved the city’s CVB, Visit Phoenix. Together, they decided to bring five attendees who had complained about the new location in postconference surveys to Phoenix for an all-expenses-paid trip ahead of the 2019 event.

For three days, these members went to restaurants, took a bus tour of downtown, and visited a letterpress, a concrete studio, and other places of interest to professionals in the creative industry.

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