Once we all got to grips with virtual calls, panel discussions, Parliamentary debates and press conferences there were mutterings as to whether post the lockdown that this would become the norm, people would want to continue to work from home and not have any desire to go back to live events. I for one disagree. I feel that this enforced foray into the virtual world while currently a lifeline for all of us will lead to an increased demand in face to face meetings as soon as we are allowed rather than the other way round.

I must point out this is a purely personal opinion it is not based on any formal research or statistics but rather my own thoughts and anecdotal comments from industry colleagues.

Prior to March this year I did everything in my power to avoid virtual communication, through a basic fear of technology and love of any excuse to meet people face to face. Now it has taken over both my business and personal life. True to form I have been looking at any way to meet up with friends be that over a coffee, drink, an online theatre performance or a shared virtual curry but it doesn’t come anywhere near the real thing for me. Granted it has enabled me to reach out to friends and family at the other side of the world and allowed me to see some people more often but it’s too one dimensional for me. An online chat, training course or panel session lacks true energy and emotion. But then for me seeing someone’s photo of a beautiful sunset cannot begin to compare to sharing it with them in person.

To truly engage I need that emotional energy. Yet at a time like this I would be lost without this amazing technology which offers me the opportunity to see my friends, family and industry colleagues but I am counting the days until I can share the same physical space as them even at a suitable distance. In the same way that hearing someone’s voice over the phone creates a better connection with an individual than communication by email, so seeing their face allows for an even better understanding of them. The pinnacle for me is then to meet with them face to face.

So, for me and I’m sure the majority of the hospitality industry, the social creatures that we are, I believe that this enforced immersion into the virtual world has only reinforced our preference for live events. Yet I for one, will emerge with a better understanding and respect for technology and be far more likely to incorporate it into our live events to enable those unable to attend to join the community in person.

I’m sure that even once we have a vaccine and things return to ‘normality’ whatever that might be that many people will question the need to jump onto a plane for that so called important one-hour meeting. They will think twice about which event to attend or holiday to book for a wide variety of reasons not least cost, sustainability or health concerns but while we may be wounded I truly believe our industry will bounce back with a vengeance, more innovative, creative and engaging.

Judith Wilson
Events Director, Eventsbase

The Meetings Show