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What Will Tomorrow’s Conferences and Large-Scale Events Look Like?
When talking about the future of B2B conferences, events and tradeshows, it’s important to specify that you’re speaking about the distant future rather than the months directly ahead. The COVID-19 pandemic and the wave of social distancing strategies countering it have rendered mass gatherings unfeasible for the spring, the summer and a potentially significant amount of time after.
With that said, businesses still need to connect with their clients, partners and internal stakeholders to get their messages out to the public about new products and other major announcements. For the moment, digital models have taken off in the events world, a trend that may continue even after people receive the all-clear to congregate.
It’s worth thinking about a few aspects of the conference and event industry. Namely, the immediate and eventual future should be considered separately, as the steps being taken today are very much defined by the historical moment. It’s important to think about the technologies that are bridging the gap between the improvised present and the next evolution of conferences.
Conferences in the Era of Coronavirus
The current slate of digitized gatherings taking the place of in-person conferences includes many thrown-together events. Companies have hurried to adjust to a world without standard gatherings. DirectIndustry E-magazine reported that following the 36,000-attendee RSA Conference, two participants contacted the coronavirus. Whether or not they were infected at the event, the message was still received. Even before states began mandating social distancing, companies were shifting to online.
DirectIndustry noted that companies unwilling to simply call off their events have pivoted to an online model. IBM used livestreamed presentations and forums to keep in contact with the developer community after its Think 2020 conference was called off. IBM’s Edward Barbini stated that internal feedback on the change was positive. Employees saw it as a sign the company prioritized their health.
Despite IBM’s early example, DirectIndustry added there is still some hesitation about the value of moving to all-digital conferences. Will these events deliver the networking and informative content professionals attend industry gatherings for?
There are many new efforts to replace conferences with virtual events. In the early going, the focus has been on the basic features of gatherings that are easy to replicate. As with the IBM show, keynote speeches and sessions have gone online. However, these digital events don’t allow for the compelling conversations and chance meetings between attendees that often led to more valuable connections than the official agenda.
Some companies are trying to create more all-inclusive conferences for online spaces. Especially with the specter of long months without traditional gatherings, these operators are hoping to set new standards. Wired noted that such startups have thus far failed to reshape the industry, especially with several major events planning their return, tentatively, in 2021. But what will these shows look like when they open their doors again?
The Return of Mass Gatherings
While predicting the return of B2B conferences, ZDNet shared some sobering reminders that there’s no way to return to 100% normalcy. The events landscape has already changed. For example, O’Reilly Media has decided to accelerate change in its business model. It’s learning events and conferences were a major part of the company in the past. But that division has now closed down, seemingly for good.
There are other, smaller signs that the event space will never be the same. Independent conferences may not survive the mandatory cancelations this year. According to ZDNet, the Drupal Association’s future is in doubt without its annual 3,000-attendee DrupalCon, which was a major source of income for the group.
Once companies are cleared to hold face-to-face gatherings, there will be demand from attendees and exhibitors. ZDNet did note, however, that this will not be enough to bring the space back to its previous scale. The cost-benefit math for conventions will have to be redone, and some organizers and attending businesses are likely to decide to either stick with online gatherings or simply go with fewer conventions on the calendar.
The online gatherings of the future may represent an upgrade in some ways. When many leading events are held as online gatherings, more companies may feel empowered to participate. The complete removal of travel costs and the potential lowering of ticket prices may lead to events that are more widely attended than ever before, if only virtually.
Video Content Now and Then
Video has been a compelling part of corporate communications for years, but as the line blurs between live gatherings and online presentations, its importance will only rise. When executives give in-person presentations backed by video, the multimedia was already an integral part of those speeches. When an entire appearance is being delivered by video, the presentation and the multimedia become completely intertwined.
If your organization has virtual events coming up, either as a host or a presenting attendee, a renewed focus on video content can help you make a good impression on your audience. Every business at one of these conferences is relying on its multimedia to get messaging across, and you can stand out when you focus on high-quality video.
One of the most compelling reasons to reinvest in video is that this renewed focus doesn’t have to stop paying dividends when in-person events return to the schedule. Companies able to produce compelling videos have a repeatable and entertaining way to put their branding in front of partners, clients and the public. Whether events are virtual or live, that’s an effective part of your company’s tool kit.
While your business adapts to the immediate and far future of events, you can enlist Crews Control to help with your creative needs. Our video services include outsourced editing of your internally shot footage, as well as motion graphics and animation, prime content options when your team can’t be together to film. For information on these offerings and more, contact Crews Control today.