Pharma Conferences: Will a Hybrid Version Become the Standard in 2021 and Beyond?

Yes and no. That is, assuming we can all travel freely, the conference will be hybrid or virtual. Audience experiences will drive the future. There is an interrelated set of personal and corporate factors that will be the five key drivers of future behavior: value, commitment, behavioral psychology, technology, and economics.

1. Value: Pharmaceutical conferences end if the public cannot get the educational information they need. Both physical and virtual conference formats allow this. Networking encourages physical assistance along with the protected learning experience and research shows that a small majority of HCPs prefer to attend future physical events. Hybrid offers the greatest potential to increase audience attendance, combining physical and virtual.

2. Commitment: Virtual conferencing has significantly increased attendance, but questions remain about audience participation with content. They can attend the main sessions, but visits to the pharmaceutical booths are greatly reduced. It is essential that information can be easily found and accessed.

3. Behavioral psychology: Being greener, managing time pressures, having the flexibility to use your time however you want, they are wrapped up in the pros and cons of attending physical or virtual conferences. As the world unlocks, we need to observe and measure the behavior of our audience and, most importantly, continue to ask and listen to their opinions on how best to meet their needs.

4. Technology: In five or six years, virtual reality could transform the conference experience with widely available and affordable virtual reality (VR) glasses, offering an experience that can only match high-volume prohibitive VR headsets.

Virtual reality is important because when you wear virtual reality headphones, you are engaged. Meanwhile, it is essential to use technology in the simplest way, which makes the user experience easy, fast and attractive.

5. Economy: Businesses need to decide the balance between levels of physical activity and online, maximizing access to the information they want audiences to receive, within budgetary constraints. Budgets may need to increase.

Hybrid is here to stay. Plan accordingly: You know what your audience needs and, paraphrasing Steve Jobs, make sure they easily find valuable and engaging content they wouldn’t have thought to look for, they’ll visit you again.

Paul Blackburn is the founder and managing partner of Certain Health

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