What the Great Resignation Means for Conferences

For organizations who plan and deliver conferences and events, the Great Resignation is affecting more than internal staffing levels and resulting workload. These millions of industry veterans who are leaving their jobs are also leaving their conferences behind, forcing organizations to attract new audiences to make up the attendance gap experienced in 2021.

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What is the Great Resignation?

The Great Resignation, which first began in the spring of 2021, is the term being used to describe the economic phenomenon of a higher-than-average number of employees leaving their jobs—particularly  mid-career employees, according to the Harvard Business Review.

It’s a perfect storm of post-pandemic factors that are fueling this seemingly mass exodus—from pent-up demand due to delayed career transitions in 2020, to a re-evaluation of work and life priorities. Some workers are changing jobs for better pay and more flexibility, while others decided to go into business for themselves or have left the workforce altogether.

Regardless of the reason or outcome, this is going to have a significant impact for conferences and events.

The Impact of the Great Resignation on Future Event Attendance

Organizations are already facing an uphill climb as they try to grow attendance back to pre-pandemic levels. The Great Resignation is only going to make it harder.

According to data featured in the Omnipress 2022 Conference Industry Report, conference attendance took a significant hit in 2021 for most organizations, regardless of the event format:

How did your 2021 conference attendance compare to a “typical” year?

Meeting professionals are hoping to see a recovery in attendance numbers this year as life starts to return to some semblance of “normal.” But they can’t just rely on bringing even the most loyal attendees back because many of them will have changed positions, changed industries, or left the workforce, and no longer have a need for the conference.

2022 Brings an Increased Focus on Attracting New Audiences to Events

Thanks to workforce gaps created by the Great Resignation, organizations must look beyond their existing industry database to grow conference attendance in 2022 and beyond. Attracting attendees from new audience segments will be a pivotal strategy in the coming year.

To do this successfully, organizations may need to take a fresh look at several areas of their event strategy, including:

  1. Expanding or redefining the target attendee profile
  2. Creating content and programming for these new audiences
  3. Using event content to increase event visibility among prospective attendees

Data from the Omnipress 2022 Conference Industry Report shows we are more optimistic about the delivery and performance of our events coming into the year than we were last year. But it may not be quite “back to normal.” Changes and disruptions in the workforce will affect conference attendance. In response, meeting planners should take time to redefine their target and develop strategies to address the new needs of these participants.

Interested in more articles on this topic? Here are Five Tips for Using Your Virtual Event Content to Attract New Attendees.