As we enter the second month of the Covid 19 crises, a lot of the talk within the events industry has honed in on the need for diversification by way of virtual events and meetings. Perhaps understandably so given that the live events industry has come to an almost complete standstill. However, are we placing too much emphasis on the need for companies to diversify into the virtual sphere once we finally reach the daylight at the end of this unprecedented tunnel? It’s hard to comprehend that the worldwide lockdown and subsequent shutting down of the global events industry, is one that is going to permanently change the landscape of live events and meetings. Sure there will always be a need for virtual events but can they ever really replace the buzz, creativity and sheer vibrancy of a live event?
Once the dust has settled and the post Covid 19 landscape starts to become clearer, the need for audience engagement and face to face interaction will be more prevalent than ever. Live video conferencing platforms like Zoom are fantastic and offer an invaluable service, not only at times of lockdown, but also during periods of normality and stability. Being able to connect immediately and hold meetings remotely is something which has and will continue to grow in importance as technologies & societies continue to advance. There’s no doubting that an online meeting can be efficient. Take the collaboration between UCL and the Mercedes Formula 1 team who together successfully developed a new breathing aid to help patients suffering with Covid 19 in unfathomably quick time. A project which took just 100 hours – largely consisting of online meetings – from initial meeting to production of the first device. Something which no doubt would have taken weeks if not months in the pre Covid 19 world.
However the virtual meeting space can never sufficiently replicate the experiences garnered from attending a live event, nor does it claim to do so. We love interacting with people and live events provide an unrivalled platform for networking with potential clients and discovering new technologies. The buzz of a busy exhibition and the thrill of discovering and trying out a new technology live is not something we can achieve on a laptop or computer at home or in our offices. Being present in a meeting space with like-minded people, sharing ideas, trends, networking and socialising is integral to the continued growth of one of the most important industries on the globe.
Do live events need to change? Yes almost certainly, the way we interact with each other, not just in the event industry but in society as a whole, will no doubt be changed forever. Not necessarily in a negative way though. Being more aware of people’s personal space, respecting boundaries and generally being kinder to one another can be no bad thing. We will all be more aware of our own surroundings and everybody’s health and personal wellbeing which can only act as an advantage to us all as as we move forward.
Meetings, learning, seeing, experiencing are all crucial in the growth of this industry and our understanding of new technologies and ways to do business. Virtual meetings have a huge part to play in this, but so do live events, and when the dust has settled on the Covid 19 health crisis, there will no doubt be an unquenchable thirst for live events. Once again this industry will be there to meet the demands, delivering more vibrant, diverse and exciting events than ever before.
Photo courtesy of Kongres Magazine / IMEX