Have you been to any kind of a mega conference? May it be a Tech conference, marketing conference, business conference or even a fashion show. These conferences can cost a fortune. However, there will be thousands of attendees coming from all over the world. They have various objectives of attending these types of mega conferences. Some would target for knowledge, some would target contacts, some would look for business opportunities and there would be some who attend purely to experience the event. This is a huge business segment and there are hundreds of sub businesses revolving around it.
Then there are summits and conferences organized by powerful international organizations such as United Nations, World Health Organization, World environment organization etc with the attendance and participation of hundreds and thousands of VIPs. These mega events take place mostly on annual basis. There are large scale political conferences such as G8 summit, Saarc summit etc. with the participation of powerful political figures from around the world.
There are few common elements when it comes to any kind of mega conference or event.
- Mega expenses
- Mega organizing resources
- Mega logistical arrangements
- Mega travel arrangements
- Mega accommodation arrangements
- Mega team of people.
Everything is done in mammoth scale by putting massive amount of time and energy. Then the conference will be held with a BANG and lot of glamour. In about a week or two it will be over and everyone will be back to their normal lives.
Mega conferences are one of the most affected business segments due to COVID-19 pandemic. There were many mega conferences and events which were planned to be held, got cancelled or postponed without scheduling an alternative date. However, some mega conferences refused to get cancelled and those conferences changed the future for mega conference industry.
These unique conferences decided to go online. Surprisingly they were able to give an equal or a better experience for the participants. Let’s see how they were able to give value to the participants.
Online or virtual conferences bought down the cost of participation significantly down. Attendees do not have to travel half of the world to take part in a conference and as a result the travelling cost and accommodation cost became zero. The organizers of the mega conferences did not have to pay for a fancy venue and for various other logistical arrangements. Due to low cost the attendees had to pay comparably an insignificant cost to participate the virtual conferences.
In person conferences have very little flexibility for attendees. Conferences which conducts over few days with presentations from many resource persons might have one or two presentations which is not very interesting to an attendee. If you are in as in person conference there is nothing much you can do about as you will not find it easy to avoid just one presentation in between other important events. So, attendees would sit for the whole program irrespective of their preference. However, in an online conference you have the flexibility to pick and choose the events or presentations you are interested in and avoid the rest. This also allows attendees to be more productive during the conference.
If you have attended any kind of a mega conference you would have experienced the strict dress codes you have to adhere to. It can be very uncomfortable to be in full suit for few days of a conference. However, if you are attending an online conference you have the liberty of wearing what ever you want. You can choose to sit and attend or even lie down and attend. As long as you do not require to be on video, online conferences can be very comfortable. You can even keep your coffee and snacks with you all the time and if you prefer you can use your own space to take down important notes.
Clarity and Accessibility
When you attend mega conferences your seating arrangements make a big difference. Most of the time you have to pay a premium to get a seat in the close proximity to the center stage where you can see the presentations and the speakers clearly. In an online platform, everyone gets the same level of clarity in presentations and accessibility to the speakers.
How mega the conference is, it has a limited number of people they can accommodate. There can be even many difficulties for people from certain parts of the world to get visa to travel to the conference destination. All these hurdles disappear when the conferences go online. It allows the conference to reach out to many more interested people around the world and increase the popularity of the event.
Mega conferences moved to a different paradigm thanks to COVID-19 pandemic. It benefited many people in many different levels. However, there are few issues as well. One of the most paramount objectives of a mega conference is networking. Many companies invest thousands of dollars to get their employees attend these mega conferences with a marketing objective. In person networking events such as dinners, cocktails and social gathering take place as part of the conference gives incredible opportunities for people to network with the influential people and companies in their field.
It is quite challenging to replicate the social impact in an online conference. However, there were many instances where the organizers tried to maximize the social networking element with the use of technology. Allowing the online platform to organize many virtual networking sessions, sharing contact database among attendees and facilitating product and service displays in various forms have helped them to achieve this to a certain extend.
Irrespective of the few drawbacks, online or virtual mega conferences are becoming a norm. People around the world who experienced the virtual conferences may think twice to spend a fortune to attend a mega conference in person in the future. As a result, it is expected to see more technological advancements to overcome the weaknesses in the online mega conference industry. This would be a considerable change in the mega conference and event industry where the industry participants will have to find ways to adopt.