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Finding the right price point for virtual attendees

Marvel   Photo: AAS/ Phil McCarten, Corporate Event Images

When meetings switched to virtual over the spring and summer, many groups made their events free or charged a nominal fee. But some associations found they could charge lower but still substantial registration fees and cover their costs or more.

The American Astronomical Society made registration rates for its virtual June meeting about half the rate of in-person attendance with the aim of breaking even, said CEO Kevin Marvel. AAS anticipated about 750 people for its in-person meeting in Madison, Wis., but virtual attendance was about double, Marvel said, with most people paying $199 and students paying $99. AAS was able to shift venue contracts to the future without penalty, so costs for what would have been an in-person event, including food and beverage expenses, were slashed considerably.

For the upcoming virtual winter meeting in January, AAS is looking to generate additional revenue above its costs. The full regular member rate will be $297 compared with $600 or more for an in-person meeting. More than 4,000 people are expected to attend, perhaps 30% more than the best-attended previous winter meeting.