A few of us at LodeStar have recently attended a couple of virtual conferences or conventions and also have colleagues, peers and partners who have done the same. We’ve discussed with some of our fellow virtual attendees and sponsors their experiences—especially with traditional on-site conference season upon us. We had a great experience, for example, at the #NEXTSUMMER20 show, where we did a different kind of product showcase that we loved! See for yourself here. The following isn’t aimed at any single entity, association, or publication. It’s simply a little bit of feedback based on what we’ve cumulatively (and collectively) gathered and discussed.
First of all, the beauty of a virtual conference is that the exhibit hall can be reimagined and made even more effective! Many of us have shelled out tens of thousands to exhibit at a large convention, only to be dumped in a bad location and—even worse—experience low prospect traffic because the presentations and content are scheduled on the other side of the convention hall. We love some of the innovation we’ve seen, including running the vendor demo more like a roundtable or town hall discussion.
We could debate all day the relative value of an on-site convention versus a virtual convention. But we’re still having trouble believing that the virtual convention brings the total value we’ve all found at a well-run, on-site event. So some of the pricing we’ve seen (not all of it…some of it) seems a bit exorbitant. We know that the folks hosting these events are taking a risk and applaud them for blazing a new trail. But consider that some believe any amount is already too much to spend on attending a live event, where the networking is much more three dimensional and we don’t have to buy our own cocktails at the exhibit hall happy hour. So charging pretty much the same amount to people or exhibitors who, let’s face it, will be sitting in their home offices donning sports jackets and shorts, drinking a beverage that came out of their own kitchens, seems a bit much.
We’re pretty sure that nobody is looking forward to the “All Clear” for on-site events more than the associations and businesses that host them. And, I’ll say again that the virtual event I personally attended was definitely well run. But in some ways nothing has changed, Just like in-person conferences, it’s all about what you personally make out of them.
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