Do bums on seats matter anymore?
30th March 2022
Katie Corbin, Head of Business Development

Do bums on seats matter anymore?

We’ve all been there. Pacing up and down the corridors at a congress centre trying to lure people into your symposium room with the promise of a hot topic presentation and a dry croissant. Or working late for months preparing for an event, only for there to be a last-minute tube strike and all your delegates decide it just ain’t worth the effort.

Are the days gone where in-person attendance at events matter? Should delegate numbers be a KPI and the marker of a successful tactic?

A best practice approach to medical education should cater for different learning styles and engagement preferences; yes, in-person events are important, but HCPs like to receive education in a variety of ways, so a ‘successful tactic’ should take that into account. Think on-demand. Think virtual. Think field team follow-up. And set your KPIs accordingly. If only 10 people attend an event but 100 engage with the on-demand version, and field teams get 10 follow-up meetings... that’s still job done, right?

The key is return on investment – a big spend on hotel, travel and accommodation makes it difficult to demonstrate ROI if you’ve got a half empty room. So challenging ourselves and our clients to think outside the box about how we provide the opportunity for peer-to-peer engagement for those that want it, while also being mindful of costs, is where we can really make a difference.

Peer-to-peer engagement isn’t only achieved through a two day in-person event at a London hotel. How about a hub and spoke format where delegate and faculty engagement takes place at smaller local venues or in a hospital setting? How about a hybrid approach with a small main venue and a webinar option? How about holding a meeting in virtual reality? And regardless of the event format, always think ‘on-demand, on-demand, on-demand’ for maximum engagement. But don’t just take our word for it. Let’s make sure we listen to the most important opinion - that of our HCP customers. Building evaluation processes and analytics into our tactics whatever the format: face-to-face, virtual or on-demand means that we can see what’s working and what needs improvement. Engagement stats aren’t enough in isolation, asking questions such as ‘Has this achieved your learning objectives? Has this changed your clinical practice? Would you recommend this to a colleague?’ will give us a rounded view of how impactful our tactic has been, and give a true indication of ROI.

So let’s change our mindset from event success being measured by attendance on the day, to being measured by overall engagement with the content across multiple formats and platforms, alongside positive HCP opinion. And help say goodbye to the days of the dry croissant.