Associations planning for in-person, but hybrid not going away

Most associations are planning a return to in-person meetings between now and the end of next year (2022), according to a new survey, which shows planners gaining in confidence.

Almost a third (32 per cent) have scheduled an in-person meeting this year and a further 58 per cent are planning an in-person meeting in 2022, according to the UIA’s 2021 Survey Covid-19 Impact on International Association Meetings, which garnered around 600 responses.

But it’s also clear the technological lessons learned during the pandemic will not be forgotten, with hybrid events now firmly on the agenda for associations – and not just for the short-term.

Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of respondents said some form of hybrid or online activity would feature in their long-term plans for major events, not just board or committee meetings.

But it had not been plain sailing on the technology front.

While most associations (58%) reported no major issues, 28 per cent said internet speeds for online delegates had caused headaches, eight per cent had ‘hardware issues’ and four per cent had telephone/VOIP problems.

Legally most associations didn’t envisage a problem with online meetings, but more than a quarter (26 per cent) said they would have to alter their statutes or bylaws to allow for the change.

More association were using social media to communicate with their members, with 55 per cent increasing the time they spent on existing platforms or using new platforms.

More than half of associations (54 per cent) suffered financial declines during the pandemic, while 18 per cent were still unable to say how it would affect their finances.

More than one in ten associations (11 per cent) had seen drops of 75 per cent or more, 14 per cent had seen declines of between 51 and 75 per cent, and 15 per cent reported falls of between 25 and 50 per cent.

Worryingly, 14 per cent of those questioned were unsure if their organisation would survive the pandemic, while one per cent said their organisation would not be able to survive.

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