Nearly all — 95 percent — of health-care practitioners (HCP) who attend virtual events list “high-quality content” as the most important factor when deciding whether to attend a virtual event, according to a recent survey conducted by Kenes Group. That was nearly identical to the percentage — 93 percent — who chose that response when Kenes Group, a Geneva, Switzerland–based professional conference organizer, surveyed HCP virtual-event attendees in 2020. (See our Kenes Group 2020 survey story here.)
The results of the follow-up 2021 survey — conducted among more than 1,000 respondents in 106 countries who work in 34 therapeutic areas — did reveal a few key shifts in attendee behavior and preferences over the past year. Less than half — 46 percent — of HCPs said they could take time off to attend virtual events, compared to 63 percent who said they could take time off in 2020. Most respondents — 65 percent — said that fees for virtual events should be 50 percent lower than in-person registration fees, an increase compared with 41 percent who were looking for the same reduced pricing in 2020.
And while respondents continue to prefer events be held over one or two days, preferences for the length of individual sessions have changed, indicating a greater willingness to participate in longer sessions: In 2021, 40 percent are willing to attend sessions that last as up to two hours, and 19 percent are willing to attend sessions that are longer than two hours. In 2020, the majority of respondents preferred sessions of up to one hour.
The 2021 survey also asked HCPs for the first time if they were able to fully dedicate their time to a virtual event — 61 percent said that they could. Some of the reasons given by those who could not fully devote themselves included time-zone differences, home and work distractions, and an inability to concentrate.
Many HCPs continue to cover the registration fees for virtual events themselves — 44 percent in 2021 compared to 43 percent in 2020 — and nearly three-quarters preferred that virtual events include a mix of livestreamed and prerecorded content.
Looking ahead, a majority — 61 percent — see themselves returning to live events in 2022, compared with only 28 percent who had reported that they would be ready to go back to live events in 2021.
Barbara Palmer is deputy editor of Convene.