Maritz Report Explores Impact of Late Registrations

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The Maritz Insights Registration Report examines cause and effect of last-minute registrations.Attendees are waiting longer to commit to events. A new study from Maritz examines the cause and effects of late registration.

There’s been a lot of buzz in the meetings and event industry about how attendee behavior has shifted post-pandemic, specifically the fact that people are waiting longer to commit to attending an event. Responding to these changing registration patterns in the industry, Maritz analyzed more than 360,000 attendee registration records across 30 trade shows. They examined the same shows over a three year period for an accurate ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison pre- and post-COVID and to identify patterns in who was registering late and how their spending and behavior differs from early registrants. The goal was to understand attendee behavior in order to help align marketing, pricing and logistic strategies to optimize attendance and revenue.

The Maritz Registration Insights Report, in partnership with Louisville Tourism, found that 45 percent of trade show attendees delayed registration until less than four weeks before the event. In 2023, more than one in four attendees (29 percent) waited until the final week before registering and nine percent didn’t register until they arrived on site. This inevitably caused logistical havoc for organizers and, in some cases, financial damages from suppliers. The report takes a deep dive into the drivers, challenges and consequences of this behavior.

Top Takeaways

• Logistical challenges of late registration to planners may include lack of hotel rooms/sold out blocks; convention center strain, adding last-minute F&B, session rooms and space; transportation/shuttle adds; limited supplies of badge stock, on-site equipment, etc.; and support staff strain.

•Financial consequences to planners may include missing out on revenue from bookings in the block if hotel cutoff dates have passed, attrition damages if the block didn’t fill, and surcharges from suppliers.

•First-time attendees, attendees within driving distance and those who are attending food and restaurant shows, are most likely to register late.

•Nashville, New York City, Florida and Texas had the highest number of last-minute registrants. Minneapolis, Seattle, Honolulu and New Orleans had the lowest number of last-minute registrants.

• Late registrants spend more than early registrants on ancillary show offerings such as additional educational sessions, on-demand content and social events, even when early-bird discounts are factored out. Those who register within 60 days before the show spend the most.

• The optimal window for registration is 31-60 days before an event. It behooves organizers to hit the pavement hard in this lucrative window to get as many registrations as possible. However, it may be more practical and realistic to drive
registrations within a 31-120-day window to offer a healthy balance between optimizing revenue and enabling effective planning.

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