Nearly 40 percent of government employees said they planned to attend fewer training events and industry trade shows in fiscal 2013 than they did last year, according to a new poll from a market research firm.
Twenty-seven percent of respondents expected to attend about the same number of events as they did in fiscal 2012, while 5 percent anticipated participating in more events this fiscal year. The poll, conducted by Virginia-based firm Market Connections, included about 400 respondents. Federal employees cited budget and travel restrictions as the major reasons for the expected decrease in attendance this year.
Training and travel funds are typically the first to disappear during lean budget years, and 2013 is no exception to that rule. Thirty-six percent of respondents reported that their managers will not allow them to attend events in fiscal 2013. The Defense Department in a Jan. 10 memorandum to its component agencies specifically mentioned curtailing travel and training expenses as a way to handle the fiscal 2013 budget uncertainty related to the end of the continuing resolution on March 27 and looming automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect March 1. The Office of Management and Budget directed agencies in May 2012 to spend at least 30 percent less on travel in fiscal 2013 and maintain that level through 2016.
Despite travel restrictions, 80 percent of respondents said they prefer live events, compared to 18 percent who said they favor webinars or online trade shows. The poll also showed that feds would rather attend events that are local, smaller and more content-specific than large industry shows with multiple vendors that require lodging and more time away from work.
“This poll shows government contractors should consider participating in or hosting smaller, more content-specific events closer to home, and seeking out alternative methods for reaching the government customer, whether through thought leadership, traditional marketing communications or social media outreach,” said Lisa Dezzutti, president and CEO of Market Connections.
Respondents said staying on top of current and emerging technologies and networking with government peers were the top reasons to attend events.