Online & Hybrid Events are here to stay…

 

2020-2021 has forced extreme changes for ‘in person’ conferences and business events. In the midst of travel restrictions and stay at home orders, members of the global economy have been forced to abandon congregating in large groups. In response, early adaptors have taken the necessary steps to host online events. For example, Bearing Expo & B2B Meetings, which has historically been an ‘in-person’ event, occurring in a multitude of countries, has took place “live” online on 15-18 March 2021. This begs the question; will these events remain online and what type of reception will they get? The answer may surprise you.

It’s safe to say that before COVID-19, most businesses were already embracing the advancements in technology in order to save time, effort and money. Video conferencing and online chat options had partially replaced our need to visit each other, and had also become comfortable alternatives to in person meetings. But by no means were these platforms completely replacing or eliminating physical trade shows, until the pandemic that is.

It would seem that the coronavirus has forced us to adapt to online event platforms. We don’t have the luxury of judgement to decide whether we want to use them or not. We are dependent on them for international event hosting until the threat of the coronavirus subsides. This circumstance will undoubtedly create comfortability, ease of use, and adaptation to using these systems which will drive further online interaction. So, is it really possible that we may never return to the traditional ‘in person’ events, as we know them before the pandemic?

Hybrid events will retain the ease of online use, most likely incorporating more online technology into physical events, such as matchmaking features with the implementation of AI algorithms and machine learning.

Many companies are pondering this question. It is impossible to ignore the volume of online traffic for virtual events. Likewise, overhead is substantially reduced, and the online communication platforms are certainly reliable enough to host many participants over multiple time zones. But then again, we humans are social creatures. If we have learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that isolation is tough. We long for the days we can attend events, see other people, and share a common in person bond. For this overwhelming reason, ‘in person’ events will certainly remain. But do not expect things to return to “normal,” and never discredit something as economically effective as online interaction. Hybrid events will retain the ease of online use, most likely incorporating more online technology into physical events, such as matchmaking features with the implementation of AI algorithms and machine learning. The platforms that we once considered awkward and difficult to adapt to, are quickly becoming more commonly used and comfortable.

Bearing Expo & B2B Meetings had almost 1,100 attendee inquires within the first several days. This staggering immediate interest showcases the reach of such a global event as well as the longing for business interactions. The coronavirus pandemic has, and will continue to, transform more online global events, and offer opportunities for an enormously large variety of matchmaking business to business opportunities. Although all signs point to the second half of 2021 as a better period, there is certainly a difficult road ahead until physical events are once again confirmed, especially those that largely depend on international guests. It may be quite some time before certain countries allow foreign travelers, and even longer before we all feel completely comfortable gathering. So, for now, embrace the online events, make yourself familiar with change, and adapt your business accordingly.


BearingNEWS magazine June 2021


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