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Are Virtual Events the Future of Professional Meetings?

Are Virtual Events the Future of Professional Meetings?

Are Virtual Events the Future of Professional Meetings?
Helen Weedon
Communications Specialist
INSIGHTS BLOG /
 May 2020

For large parts of the tech and media industries, remote working and cloud-based workflows have been commonplace for quite some time. At Accedo, the majority of our employees are well set-up to transition to work from home; however, it is clear that in the current situation there is no such thing as complete business as usual. The hardest part to replicate is the in-person interaction, whether it is the casual in-office conversations or getting out there to meet partners and customers face-to-face.

Naturally, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic means that all major trade shows and industry events have been put on hold. Some of these events have been cancelled altogether but others have chosen to launch virtual alternatives to the exhibition floors. Will remote working become commonplace? Augmented and Virtual reality Magazine, AR/VR Journey has compiled a list of conferences that have opted to go virtual and while it may not be exhaustive, it is a pretty impressive bunch.

In our industry, NAB recently announced plans for a collection of online offerings called the ‘NAB Show Express’. Similarly, trade association IABM has launched its own virtual platform featuring webinars, online trade show demonstrations, and a series of TV-like interviews. Organisers of IBC (scheduled to take place in September) say that they continue to monitor the situation and are actively exploring alternative plans should they be forced to cancel as well. Many companies are also doing their own thing, opting for webinars and online demonstrations in lieu of being present at events. This, of course, includes us at Accedo!

The current situation has certainly led to significant changes, on a professional as well as personal level. It will be interesting to see if any of these changes become permanent once the COVID-19 situation stabilises. Will remote working become commonplace? Will more of us think twice before we book that non-essential trip? In terms of the former, it is likely that the current move to cloud-based workflows will have a lasting effect once media companies adapt and begin to reap the benefits.

The event industry is bound to experience less of a clear cut break from tradition. It is safe to assume that the current situation of widespread social isolation means that most of us are desperately craving personal interaction. Online meet-ups and virtual demos are simply not the same as wandering the buzzing halls of an industry trade show. And from an exhibitor perspective, you lose out on the accidental walk-in visitors who happen to pass your booth and decide to spontaneously strike up conversations.

Because of this, the long-lasting effects on the trade show industry are likely to be limited. Yes, traditional events organisers are now experimenting with online and virtual formats, which have the potential of reaching wider audiences than those who could attend in person. We are bound to see some innovative approaches emerge to increase interaction in an online setting. However, it is still unlikely that major industry trade shows will abandon physical gatherings for good. We might see more hybrid approaches going forward, where the big events continue to host IRL meetings while also delivering more online content geared at people who are unable or unwilling to travel. It is also possible that some of the smaller events will make a complete transition to online-only, but going down this path is unlikely to become an industry-wide norm.

Whilst virtual events will never truly replace that physical presence, right now they are vital to keeping industry stakeholders engaged and foster client/vendor interactions. You can expect to see us at a number of online events over the coming months, starting with the virtual meetings and demos we’ll be hosting in lieu of the NAB show. You can reserve your spot via our (not) NAB page.

In the meantime, we hope that all our industry friends are staying safe and well. We look forward to meeting you both virtually and in-person very soon.

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