Two-Third of Marketers Will Skip In-person Events

Physical Distancing, Frequent Cleaning May Not Be Enough

Most marketers say they will not attend any conferences or live events in 2020 unless a vaccine is available that would protect them from COVID-19.

Nearly two-thirds said they would only attend online or virtual events in the fourth quarter without a proven vaccine in place, according to Third Door Media’s just published Event Participation Index (EPI).

4 out of 10: Likelihood marketers would attend an in-person conference through the end of 2020.

This is the first time we fielded the EPI. We plan to conduct follow up editions monthly to track any changes in sentiment. Results of the initial edition will be used to benchmark changes in sentiment among marketers.

More than 250 marketers responded to the EPI, which was fielded on TDM’s MarTech Today, Marketing Land and Search Engine Land websites. The majority hailed from the United States.

That sentiment comes as just this week the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said it expects the country to surpass 100,000 deaths tied to coronavirus by June 1. Meanwhile, many states are beginning to lift restrictions aimed at enforcing social distancing.

Planning events for the fall? Here’s what you can do.

Like restaurants, concert halls, sporting events and other businesses that rely on bringing people together for shared experiences, the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for the trade show and conference businesses.

In addition to major conferences like SXSW, HIMSS and Dreamforce, small shows across the country have canceled. And like us, who ran our Discover MarTech event virtually in April and will be running our SMX Next event online in June, many conferences have pivoted to digital formats.

But the value and experience for attendees, exhibitors, speakers and marketers are hard to replicate in a webinar platform. So the EPI included questions about what organizers can do to make the prospect of attending a conference in the fall more acceptable to them.

“Regular temperature checks and a way to allow for distance, but still an opportunity to network or go to booths,” wrote one respondent.

“Limited numbers, seating charts, adhering and showing how you’re adhering to all health guidelines ahead of the event,” wrote another.

Other initiatives being discussed by members of the event community include eliminating buffet meals and bars, issuing pre-printed badges to reduce wait times at check-in, disinfecting meeting spaces and expo halls at least daily and requiring masks and daily temperature checks.

But even those precautions may not allay fears.

“Even if you took extensive precautions, I don’t know if it would be enough to make everyone feel safe,” one respondent said.

Hope you found these results interesting. I’ll be certain to share the next round in June.