PCMA@LinkedIn: Do Early-Bird Rates Catch Attendees? Julie Walter, associate director of meet- ings and conferences at the Door and Hardware Institute, asked members of PCMA’s LinkedIn group about the effectiveness of offering tiered conference rates tied to the timing of registration. Walter asked: “Our staff is split on the idea of offering ‘early-bird’ pricing or not, as well as how far in advance to publish registration dates. Do you think early-bird pricing drives early registra- tion commitment?” Here are some of the responses Walter
I can only commenton international meetings: Early bird is a useful tool. It usually ends around six weeks before the event … late fee [rate] ends about a week out and then we move to on-site fee. This practice divides registration usually to: half at early bird [rates], 40 percent at late fee, and 10 percent for on-site. I assume that in the United States it may be different, but the psychology is similar. Naturally, the price difference needs to be significant enough to cause an action.
Dan Rivlin, Managing Director, Kenes International
Everyone does it differently, but I might recommend an early-bird price, ending eight weeks out or so. Then your gen- eral registration pricing kicks in until you “close” registration, which might be a few days out from your conference. After registration closes, your on-site fee kicks in. And I agree with Dan’s comments: Whatever your pricing is, the differential needs to be enough to spur a call to action.
Sherri Beck, Vice President, Director of Logistic Solutions, Jack Morton Worldwide
I’ve found these days that saving a hundred or two hundred dollars does not seem to matter anymore. People’s time is valued more than dollars. Bosses don’t approve travel until the last min- ute. I struggled with this myself when I was organizing conferences. Instead of offering price incentives, do you have other perks you can offer? Maybe one-on-one sessions or small breakout groups with your keynote to the first 50 people who register? Or offer several perks like that, and registrants can select one upon registration, but “only while supplies last.”
Traci Browne, North American Business Development Manager, GenieMobile
FromConvene’s blog For more on the meetings industry, visit pcmaconvene.blogspot.com. Here are a few of the things we have been writing about lately:
AFFABLE ATHENS In May, Executive Editor Chris Durso traveled to Athens, Greece, on a fam trip for media and event professionals sponsored by the Athens Convention Bureau. On Day 1, trip organizers already were off to an impressive start: “Some of us arrived at the Hilton Athens after traveling for more than 18 hours, and upon checking in our gracious hosts told us to relax and freshen up for a while; if we’re interested, we can take a bus tour later this afternoon, followed by either an early dinner or simply cocktails and appetiz- ers — our choice. We’re all excited to be here, but as you know it’s not uncommon on a trip like this for the spirit to be willing and the flesh to be weak. It’s nice to see that reality being taken into account.” (A report on the full trip will appear in a future issue of Convene.) Read more at convn.org/athens-fam.
I’m starting to see more associations get creative with their marketing approach. The challenge with early-bird pricing is that it doesn’t create urgency until the week before the deadline. It’s a “one and done” play. Think about ways that you can increase the frequency of urgency by creating three to five limited-time offers four to 12 weeks before your conference. You can consider using discount codes or special offers that add value to the purchase. It can be blended with early bird, or early-bird strategy could be discontinued.
Dave Lutz, CMP, Managing Director, Velvet Chainsaw Consulting
Chris Durso’s snapshot of the Parthenon.
APP-CIDENTS HAPPEN When Senior Editor Barbara Palmer accidentally downloaded a two- year-old conference app, it was a trip back in time. But the mistake “provided a graphic example of how quickly apps in particular, and tech in general, are evolving,” she wrote. And, although the conference 2012 app was much improved, “I wanted more,” she added. “Specifically, I wanted to know which sessions were popular with attendees who were a lot like me. Social-media platforms like Facebook, along with websites like Amazon, are training me to look for ‘recommendations’ from people that I don’t know well.” Read more at convn.org/app-revisited.