If you like this post, please share:

If you liked this post, please share:

I'd really like to attend HCD Virtual conference next week. But I'm struggling with justifying paying $999 for an online event.

I seem to recall that a full standard registration for the in-person HCD Expo + Conference last year was not a whole lot more than $900. How can a virtual conference that is only offering educational sessions be about the same price?

Okay, I know there were early and smart saver rates that were much lower. But I wasn't ready to commit in early October.

And even with a $200 discount for being a previous attendee that was offered through October 27, $649 seemed like a lot of money.

Networking Is Where It's At

For me, the most valuable part of the HCD Expo + Conference is networking. I also always learn something from the educational sessions, but after 30+ years in the industry, there isn't much I haven't already heard about.

Don't get me wrong -- I know that I don't know everything about healthcare design. There are lots of ideas and information that come out of conferences like HCD every year that inform my writing and marketing work.

Maybe I just have virtual session fatigue.

I really don't want to sit in front of my computer for four hours four days in a row. And if I paid $999 for it, I'd feel obligated to do so -- even if I wasn't engaged in what the speaker was saying.

Pivoting to Virtual

I get that those in the conference business are suffering. It's probably unlikely that in-person conferences aren't going to start up again for at least another year or two.

To stay in business, conference companies have to offer virtual events.

But their costs to produce them have to be much less. As a customer, I need to feel that their pricing is fair and that I'm getting value for my money.

So what's the answer?  I'm not sure. How about trying to create more human interaction, fun, and things to feed the spirit, like I suggested in a post a few months ago?

Where's the Tension?

I also think that what's missing from the marketing message to prospective HCD Virtual attendees is tension.

Yes, tension.

When it works, marketing causes change and change involves tension. Tension isn't a bad thing either -- it's just something that is created and an action must take place to relieve it.

When you relieve the tension for your customers or clients, that leads to trust. What will motivate them to relieve the tension that they feel?

For example, if I thought I was missing something by not attending HCD Virtual, it might motivate me to pony up $999. Or if I really needed CEU credits.

And granted, I'm not the target audience for HCD either. Practicing architects, designers, and facility managers may be more engaged by HCD's virtual sessions.

But I'm just not feeling it.

So I'm going to take a pass this year and hope that someone in the healthcare design industry will shake up the standard virtual conference model. It will be a game-changer if that happens.

Join Me for a Discussion on November 18

In the spirit of "practicing what you preach," I'm moderating a free virtual roundtable discussion hosted by Construction Specialties with three of my industry friends on Wednesday, November 18 at 2 p.m. Eastern. There will be no slide presentations or visuals -- just four people having a friendly chat about the challenges facing healthcare design in our new reality.

My guests are Tama Duffy Day from Gensler, Tushar Gupta from EYP Architecture & Engineering, and Victoria Navarro from Advocate Aurora Health.

Some of the questions I'll be asking them are:

  • How has the pandemic been treating you? Tell us how you coped during lock-down.
  • Covid-19 has put a lot of stress on our healthcare system, testing its flexibility and capacity. What design strategies do you think are essential to adapt to our current reality and plan for future pandemics?
  • Challenging times usually spark creativity. What product innovations to help improve infection control in healthcare environments are needed? Have you or your colleagues seen any new products recently that impressed you?

Bonus:  You can earn one AIA CES learning unit that qualifies for Health, Safety, and Wellness. Please join us!  Register now to attend>>>

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Photo:  135173696 © HAKINMHAN | Dreamstime.com

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Leave a comment


4 years ago

We charged £75 per day or £195 to attend 5 days of European Healthcare Design from 14-18 September, with 1000 delegates attending from 39 countries to experience 200 talks and workshops, and the awards ceremony,

R David Frum

4 years ago

Wholeheartedly agree!

Wayne Ruga

4 years ago

loved your drawing a connection between tension and trust
good luck on the 18th

Marjorie Serrano

4 years ago

In answer to your question: Absolutely, it is too mulch to spend! I can get CEUs for much less, in smaller more tolerable doses.

We all have financial challenges in this pandemic. What makes conference planners so special that they should be paid so well for providing much less service with dramatically decreased overhead?

I also think the in-person prices have been outrageous for all design conferences for many years. Yes there are many benefits to attending a large, multidisciplinary conference, but not all of us in the industry are making sufficient income to justify the cost. Tuition, extra fees for tours, travel, meals, and expensive conference hotels add up to the impossible for small & solo practitioners. Staying at a nearby, slightly less expensive hotel means additional costs for transportation, especially in a city like Orlando. The only way I can attend is if it is in my own city, and even then it is difficult to justify the tuition.

Sara Marberry_013-Retouched-New copy

What's my story? I'm a healthcare and senior living design knowledge expert who writes and speaks frequently about trends and issues affecting these two industries. I'm also a strategic marketing consultant and content creator, working with companies and organizations who want to improve the quality of healthcare and senior living through the design of the physical environment. You can reach me at .

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