Whilst its clear the events industry will look very different when the current crisis subsides, talk of how this signals the end of the face-to-face events industry in its entirety is both short-sighted and overblown.
O’Reilly, a large, US based conference producer, focused on the technology and IT sectors, has announced that it is permanently shutting its live conferences division.
“On March 24, Laura Baldwin, President of O’Reilly Media, announced that the company was shutting its in-person events division and going completely virtual for future events. O’Reilly had already postponed its March Strata Data & AI Conferences in London and San Jose and combined it with an online Strata Data & AI event scheduled for September.”
They’ve missed a trick here. After weeks and months spent in solitude, away from colleagues, friends and family, I think most of us are probably craving some face-to-face interaction. We’ve all spent hours on various virtual conference platforms, struggling with connections, internet and other predictably dull technical issues. Maybe I’m biased, but the thought of having to repeat “can you hear me now, yes I can hear you, I think my mic is broken” beyond the end of this lock down sends shivers down my spine. Virtual conference technology has been around for years now, and it has never taken off the way some predicted. This crisis reminds us exactly why.
It’s probably much more likely that live event professionals like us will have to get to grips with virtual technology, but as a complement to live events, not a replacement. As social creatures, we know that nothing is as powerful as face-to-face for building relationships, motivating and engaging people.
This situation might be the catalyst needed to unify live and virtual events. Enhancing the overall experience and scope of our industry, which can only be a good thing. Keep the faith my fellow live events professionals, whilst the light at the end of the tunnel may still seem faint, there could be a lot of opportunities for live event professionals to take the lead in the new world of events post-Corona.