Experts discuss what future face-to-face meetings may hold

Experts discuss what future face-to-face meetings may hold ...

The health crisis in the event industry was all too well-known; many believed the face-to-face approach would be over for the duration; virtual or, at most, hybrid networking would be preferred, while minimizing personal contact. Nearly three years after the event, people are returning to see fairs, congresses, and exhibitions.

Michiel Das, professor at EAE Business School, takes a look at the sector's evolution.

This year's CES featured more than 3,200 exhibitors, some 1,000 more than last year, and it was one of the post-pandemic events with the highest attendance rate.

Although CES is well-known for years as a mecca of new technology, the industry in general is dealing with a crisis as a result of layoffs, cancellations of new business lines, and the search for more profitable goods: far from presenting groundbreaking goods, most exhibitors have limited themselves to showcasing existing businesses.

Highlights of the presentation are:

  • Delta Airlines will offer free Wi-Fi to its SkyMiles members on most domestic flights.Amazon opened orders for its “Ring Car Cam”, a device that records everything while you drive, but also if it detects a theft. Garmin also introduced a GPS camera with automatic accident detection for $400.Lenovo introduced the Yoga Book 9i, the first full-size OLED dual-display laptop, enabled by a focused feature set to support creative works.
  • bmw presented the iVision Dee concept caran electric sedan that changes color thanks to its exterior panels.

In many presentations, the focus remained on the possibility of the presented goods and solutions being durable, as well as how the IT industry might also assist in combating climate change.

It has dropped below its 2020 high before the epidemic (170,000). Why do we have to wonder why? We can mainly attribute this to two reasons. In several countries, many international exhibitors want to be there. Due to COVID-19, it has been difficult to travel abroad until recently, especially for Chinese tech companies.

Many exhibitors have canceled their participation in order to reduce expenses, because of inflation and poor performance during the previous semester. Many firms have no longer wanted to continue making risky investments in technology if there is no solid business plan behind it.

In addition, after two years of the epidemic, videoconference solutions have expanded exponentially, meaning that one does no longer have to be physically present to see the latest news or network.

Is there still a factor to consider when looking for assistance? Is it still as appealing as a few years ago for businesses to participate in face-to-face fairs? Yes, I believe that in this edition the COVID-19 still had an impact on the number of participants, but that will be diminishing as time goes on. China was the only country that still maintained a "zero covid" policy just two weeks ago.

However, many businesses and event organizers chose to conduct virtual meetings as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, and this technique is even now being utilized as a substitute for face-to-face meetings. The benefits are two-fold: on the one hand, event organizers will be able to attract a wider demographic.

I believe that face-to-face interaction in most events will not exceed pre-pandemic levels, but it will also provide more opportunities (both for organizers and exhibitors) to reach an ever-larger audience (and may be following the event from anywhere in the world).

The main problem face-to-face event organizers face is continuing to encourage exhibitors to come to the event via physical means. Examples include special packs for exhibitors that combine presence at the event with visits to prominent companies in Silicon Valley.

What is the likelihood of attendance at the MWC in Barcelona this year? And how does it compare to previous years because to the COVID-19 epidemic and travel restrictions that may be reactivated if there is another significant outbreak.

On the other hand, the emphasis on keeping expenses under control that many companies are now following might also affect exhibitors' participation (especially at 4YFN, as startups are more likely to experience the effects of managing their cash very well and will need to begin reducing costs).

So yet no major product launches have been announced revolutionary, indicating that there will be less expectation even from the participants of the event (and many will wait till the last moment to decide whether or not to attend the event).

What must take place in order for it to reach its milestone of 109,000 attendees in 2019.

  • On the one hand: that the COVID-19 situation is more controlled with fewer travel restrictions for companies that want to attend the event.
  • On the other hand: that the situation at the macroeconomic level is more controlled, with more controlled inflation, which will allow more investment in new technological advances (despite the fact that they may give less profitability in the short term).

Is it feasible, in general, for face-to-face technology events to revert to pre-pandemic levels? No, I think that face-to-face participation in most events will not exceed pre-pandemic levels, but it will also provide additional opportunities (both to organizers and exhibitors) to reach an increasing worldwide audience.

You may also like: