Two industry spokespeople give their view.
Why we still need live events
The UK live event market is estimated at around £70 billion annual revenue to the UK economy. This does not include the indirect economic input on the amount of business done at live events.
They contribute close to 20 million international visitor room nights for hotels and accommodation providers, and are vital for many catering and restaurant services and direct employment for 700,000 people.
Putting the economy to one side for a moment, what other media allows you to feel, taste, touch, smell and try the product being promoted? With so many businesses and new product launches solely relying on live events to present their new products, there is no adequate replacement for live events.
Sure, virtual tools have helped ease a little social interaction and assist people to continue communicating their messages, but seriously, is anyone going to sit on a virtual conference for eight hours or avatar their way around 400 virtual exhibition stands to click on a brochure or exchange in live chat? I’m sure the answer is no.
We specialise in consumer health events helping people to hear from and network with others who face the same health challenges and experiences. These gatherings to share and learn are invaluable to our audiences. This could never be done virtually.
When it comes down to a big business deal or you or your family’s health and wellbeing, you want to look that person in the eye and know you are making the right decision.
You want to see what the industry has to offer in one place at one time and compare the latest products in the market. This can never be achieved through mindlessly looking through a screen where it is so much easier to hide the reality that lives behind it.
David McAllister is director at F2F events, which runs health events including the new Mental Health in the Workplace conference.
Why I don’t miss conferences
The speed of change in how we work and do business has been a surprise to everyone since Covid-19 and the lockdown hit us in March. What has struck me is how adaptable we all are.
Life and work have continued and a big part of that is the digital infrastructure we have built has enabled us to make this transition. We can all stay in touch at the speed of light!
I attend many meetings and conferences and (pre-Covid) visited many workplaces. To a large extent this has continued unchanged. Take yesterday. I was due to attend a meeting on best practice in the hospitality sector.
I sat in my garden under a parasol (the sun was shining) and listened closely to the presentations, typed my comments and questions and received quick and good answers. All done within two hours.
After that I was back at work reviewing risk assessments and making calls. This meeting would have been a three-hour round trip, I would have lost the whole day for the sake of two hours. It’s the same for conferences. They are useful in bringing people together, but mostly I am there to find out more about a topic and listen to speakers.
Too many conferences and meetings are full of people with too much bluster and inflated egos jostling for attention, hogging the limelight. There are always a few who dominate while the rest just want to get on and get down to business. These remote meetings and conferences are going to blow all this away, I hope.
Most conferences I go to are also far from home and I can only say that I am enjoying the time saved and the reduction in my environmental footprint by attending them remotely.
Laura Jones is a Birmingham-based health and safety consultant.
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