A new study by ASAE and The Center reveals a growing interest by association professionals in attending virtual meetings. The study is a follow-up to one that was conducted in January 2009; both surveys measure how association professionals have reacted during the current recession.

The new survey says virtual events are supplementing, not supplanting, in-person meetings. The number of respondents who participate in both virtual and in-person meetings is 39 percent in the new summer study, up from 33 percent in the winter study.

Further, 36 percent in the summer survey said they have attended an online education or training activity, up from 30 percent in the previous study. Another 31 percent said they took part in some other virtual event offered by an association, up from 27 percent. Participation in association-sponsored online social media activities on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn is now 16 percent, up from 10 percent.

Nineteen percent of respondents said they didn’t participate in meetings at all in the past year, down from 22 percent in the winter study.

Over the next 12 months, 42 percent of those surveyed said they anticipate attending at least one virtual meeting, up from 36 percent in the winter poll. While 56 percent said their organizations’ travel budgets have been cut, 39 percent said they expect to travel more miles to attend association activities in the next 12 months; that’s unchanged from the winter survey.

There is some change in the types of in-person events that respondents say they will participate in. About 46 percent said that in the next 12 months they weren’t likely to attend an education or training meeting lasting longer than one day, up from 38 percent. And 38 percent said the probability was low that in the next year they would attend the “same type” of multiday trade show or conference, up from 34 percent.

For more on this study, “Impact Study: Beliefs, Behaviors, and Attitudes in Response to the Economy, Summer 2009,” and the winter version, go to ASAE and The Center’s Web site.