Lots of pundits are exclaiming that now is the time for virtual conferences. That is some hopefulness right there. It is almost as if none of them have been to a conference.
Remember, the trade show & conference makes the majority of its money from sponsors and booth sales; content is a secondary thing. For the virtual show to work, due to the one dimensional aspect of the technology (platform), the content would have to be awesome. The technology – audio, video, presentation – would have to work flawlessly. We don’t see that working.
Each speaker would have to practice and prepare. Get lighting and gear in order for the performance. And let’s face it, how many speakers think of it as a performance?
To practice and prepare there would need to be compensation. How would that work?
The number one reason people attend conferences is the networking. Granted, conference operators just throw a happy hour and call it networking, but the attendees leverage that time to meet new faces and catch up with old ones (and see what logo they are wearing on their business card this time). How do you make that impactful virtually?
That is the other consideration: IMPACT. Virtually, how long will someone steer at a Zoom meeting screen without distractions? The agenda and format would need to adjust for the attention span.
Content, format and performance are the elements necessary to have a great virtual event – three things missing from the in-person events for some time.
The organizers now have to re-do the business model around the content instead of the booths because have you been to a virtual booth? It is awful (especially for job fairs). With all the apps available today – Snap, twitter, FB, Instagram, twitch, WhatsApp – and all the connectors like Calendly, Doodle, etc. – why can’t a job seeker roam a virtual fair, step up to a booth and start a video chat with someone from that company? A vCard with a link to an Indeed resume or LinkedIn profile would work (except for the blue collar jobs that are most needed right now, that this technology escapes that audience**).
One person remarked that there hasn’t been money thrown at this problem yet since the conference space (in-person) was booming. When you see the gaming platforms like Call of Duty, you have to wonder why the virtual conference isn’t like that. Upload a photo to be morphed into the character and off you go. You can have virtual sex but not a decent job fair. Go figure.