Towards a model of the UK association conference attendance decision-making process
This research investigates the nature of the UK association conference attendance decision-making process and proposes a behavioural model representing this concept. Attendance at association conferences is often discretionary and moreover, association conferences are usually longer than other types of conference and are frequently larger in scale. Such characteristics potentially give rise to a complex decision-making model with regard to conference attendance. The research aims to investigate the precise nature of this model. Additionally it appears that very little is known about the characteristics of association conference delegates in the UK and this study aims to widen understanding of these characteristics by examining membership and attendance, socio-demographic, and demand and trip profile characteristics. Initially the consumer behaviour literature is reviewed and it is argued that existing models of leisure tourism decision-making can be adapted to be representative of decision-making in the UK association context. The evaluation of alternatives stage of the decision-making process is the most complex and offers the best opportunity for empirical testing. Six proposed components of the UK association conference attendance decision-making process are identified. Interviews with conference professionals and a questionnaire including two attribute-based measurement scales are identified as the most appropriate research methods, and the data obtained is subjected to confirmatory factor analysis. Six salient components of the conference attendance decision-making process emerge: location, cost, networking opportunities, personal/professional development, health and wellbeing, time and place. These were incorporated into the five-stage behavioural model of the UK association conference decision-making process proposed by this study.