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2019 may be the last year that will seem “normal” for quite some time. Industries, institutions, governments, countries – the whole world will be feeling the effects of COVID-19 for years to come. But what does that mean for corporate conferences?

COVID and Conferences

Professional, annual, and corporate conferences of all shapes and sizes were hit hard this year. Those that had the misfortune of being scheduled near the beginning of the pandemic shutdowns in March were simply canceled. Later events were postponed, sometimes more than once, in the hopes that things would get “back to normal” soon.

As the summer months came, businesses, schools, and governments started pivoting away from “getting back to normal” in favor of creating a “new normal”. And corporate events were no exception. Those professionals hosting and planning conferences who had decided to wait it out to see if the later months of 2020 would be better for their events have realized it’s not going to happen. At least – not in the way they happened pre-COVID.

They were left with two choices: cancel the 2020 corporate conference and try again – hopefully – in 2021, or host the conference online.

Can We Afford to “Wait It Out”?

One of the biggest problems with “waiting it out” to see if COVID-19 will go away is there are no clear timelines for this pandemic. Just like those events that were rescheduled – and then rescheduled again – there is no way to know for sure that waiting until 2021 will guarantee your conference of 1,200 people will be feasible in a single physical location.

Many of the businesses hit hardest this year failed to pivot their offerings and business practices to account for social distancing and shutdown guidelines. Those who did pivot, while many still experienced losses (especially in the early months of the pandemic), are hoping to keep their doors open for another year.

The big question is: if you wait it out and next year looks much the same as the last few months, have you missed an opportunity to salvage some of your conference business this year and be ready for whatever 2021 brings?

Migration to Digital

Necessity has driven many events to online platforms this year, but why was this not a more popular option in the past? The technology has been around for years. 

An interview by Brink News with Tony D’Amelio (a 50-year veteran of the corporate event industry) cites “lack of user comfort” for the slow adoption process.

New technology is divisive. You have people who want to jump in and use the tech right away, and there are others who think the well-worn path is best. All that changed this year when jobs, classrooms, and even grocery shopping had to jump ship and grab onto that virtual hosting life raft to stay afloat. Out of necessity, virtual platforms and online meetings are now a common, trusted tool for conducting business.

Corporate Conferences in the Digital Landscape

Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams – these platforms are now the forefront of communication and virtual conferences. As these tools evolve, they continue to add features that enhance the value of online or virtual conferences.

Some benefits of online conferences can help offset costs and increase attendee engagement. There’s no need to spend thousands of dollars on a venue – participants can attend sessions in the comfort of their own home or office.

Big-name presenters are still just as sought-after, but now, everyone has a front-row seat. There’s no rush to get a good seat in the auditorium, no straining to hear the speaker in a room with too many chairs and bad acoustics.

Even networking events can be hosted on many of these platforms. While nothing will beat those in-person mixers and trade show conversations, many software developers are creating virtual rooms that can mirror these big gatherings.

Take Your Event Online with Meet Me In The Cloud

Hosting an online event, like hosting an in-person event, will never be without its difficulties. But with the right guidance and training, your virtual corporate conference could be just as good as your last physical event.

Need help organizing your online conference? Let Meet Me In The Cloud help with their collection of event assist services.