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Learning to Love the Last-Minute Commit

By Association Adviser staff • March 2, 2015

If it seems attendees are always waiting until the last minute to register for your conferences, meetings and other live events, you’re not alone. According to our latest reader poll, about three in five readers (60 percent) believe attendees are more likely to be waiting until the last minute to register than they used to. Two in five readers (40 percent) feel it’s about the same, but none of you feel that attendees are registering any earlier. The economy’s better? Travel budgets are rebounding? Overall attendance is higher. So what gives?

60 percent of association executives say it's tougher to estimate attendance at live events.

Shane Yates, CAE, CMP, executive director of the Ohio Society of Association Executives, agreed that association folks are busier than ever in the “do more than less” world in which he lives. He agreed that time out of the office is at a premium, but it has more to do with timing than it does with budgets (or purchase influence). “So often something comes up at the last minute and someone who really wanted to attend can’t make it. On the flip side, we always get calls at the last minute from folks who say, ‘I had a last minute meeting cancellation, can I still attend?’”

Yates’ advice? Look at your three-year historical trend, not just this year versus last year. Over time, the dips and valleys should smooth out and you’ll see a clearer picture at three months out, 15 days out and five days out. “That certainly helps me sleep better at night.”

See Corner Office profile of Yates in today’s issue.