The 2015 holiday shopping season has begun. Another Black Friday and Cyber Monday has come and gone. Retailers have seen a decline in retail sales and an increase in online sales as more and more shopper’s trade in their car keys for their keyboard.
What retailers are learning is the importance of an online presence and the value of building an online community. Retailers who have already developed an online audience were able to take advantage of the trend of shopper’s moving from Face-to-Face shopping to On-line shopping. Unfortunately, Retailers who rely mainly on their store (face-to-face) shopper, and have not invested in building an online presence, have seen a decline in sales in 2015 over 2014.
What the holiday shopping season clearly demonstrates is that there are two markets that retailers need to be focused on – a face-to-face buyer who prefers to come to the store and touch and feel the product before buying, and the on-line shopper, who could be either someone who occasionally goes to the store or someone who has never stepped foot in the store.
There is a strong correlation between what retailers are experiencing and what Associations are starting to see with their conferences. There are two audiences of people – those that want to come to their face-to-face conference and those that cannot, or do not, and prefer to learn on-line. Targeting both these audiences will be essential for the long-term success of a conference, just like it will be for the success of retailers.
This should be a wakeup call for Associations who are still only providing a face-to-face meeting with no on-line component, that the world is changing and having a face-to-face meeting only, may be detrimental to the continued success of that meeting and possibly even the Association. Not to mention the loss in revenue from not creating and developing that online community.
Just like retailers are seeing a trend in more buyers preferring on-line than face-to-face, Associations are going to see the same trend in face-to-face meetings. A combination of a face-to-face and on-line meetings, also known as a Hybrid Event, is the only way to capture your full market and make sure you are maximizing the ROI from your conference investment.