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Virtual conferences: Are they the future?

The show must go on. Major conferences for the design and construction industries have either rescheduled for tentative dates, shut down entirely, or have gone virtual. Most agree that nothing can beat the networking benefits of face-to-face meetings, and this has left event planners, vendors and potential attendees in a predicament.

Virtual conferences: Are they the future?

A rapid transition is already underway, forcing event planners to think on their feet and use new technology. Technical blips are almost guaranteed among attendees and are a massive fear for organizers. Trade show vendors are understandably concerned at the prospect of showcasing items virtually.

With a vaccine on the horizon, will virtual conferences be a passing trend, or will they have staying power as technology advances and fear of mass gatherings instills in the masses?

The economic benefits of in-person conferences ripple throughout industries: cities, airlines, hotel and hospitality industries all suffer. Until a vaccine is distributed, business will have to adjust to a new normal. Per Small Business Trends,

The one thing this pandemic has accomplished is to force organizations to reassess the way they do business. And business events have been adapting by holding virtual and even holographic conferences. The [Virtual Summits and the Future of Business Gatherings in a Post-COVID Era] report says by 2021, video and web conferencing will account for 80% of all internet traffic. This means both businesses and consumers are now comfortable with this form of communication and interaction.

Digital conferences also allow some users who otherwise would not be able to attend a chance to participate. Per The Scientist,

Another benefit of meeting virtually is how many more people can access the conferences. Researchers with caregiving responsibilities, disabilities, travel restrictions, scheduling conflicts, or limited funds are more likely to be able to attend a meeting online, says Sarvenaz Sarabipour, a computational biologist at Johns Hopkins University.

While all of the changes of the present may not have staying power, it seems inevitable that some will stick around. The wearing of masks may be compulsory for some time, and items like paper handouts will need to be replaced. Distancing requirements may require traffic monitoring on show floors and at entry points. Buffets will need a re-think, as individually boxed lunches may become the norm.

It’s been oft-said of late that no one holds a crystal ball. Reactionary measures of today may not be trends tomorrow, but some companies have heavily invested in virtual events that look incredible. Check out these nine amazing virtual event stages, courtesy of Bizbash.

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