Virtual Conferences are yielding surprising benefits – be sure that you know how to get the most from those virtual events you attend.
This year IPWEA made the unprecedented decision to hold the IPWEA Fleet Conference as a virtual event. This is understandable, given the current uncertainty around cross-border travel and fluctuating restrictions and health concerns when hosting in person events. However, unexpected boons of virtual events are emerging as, for many, attending them has become the ‘new normal’.
We all know the types of things people like about physical conferences – some like getting away from work or family commitments and being able to immerse themselves in content, which is corralled around a particular industry. Others like the social side – being in new locations, building relationships and generally enjoying a good, old fashioned schmooze session.
However, with the enormous increase in virtual events due to Covid-19 restrictions and the resultant, vast advances in technology in this space, online conferences have their own unique features and benefits not available at physical conferences, whilst at the same time lessening some of the perceived advantages of physical conferences over virtual ones.
Here are 8 benefits people are enjoying about virtual conferences:
- Recorded sessions: A virtual format provides greater access to conference content, including recorded sessions that are made available long after the event;
- Connections: Despite not being in the same physical room, delegates can experience an increased feeling of engagement and connectedness, with the availability of online chat, participation in online discussions in breakout rooms, Q&A and polling features.
- Convenient: improved convenience and accessibility for many participants with the removal of travel and associated impact on family and other work commitments;
- Cost Effective: lower costs, not only for ticket prices, but savings without the need to fund accommodation and travel;
- Environmental wins: For example, in August 2020 ‘Scientific American’ reported that “Staggeringly, the total carbon footprint of the world’s estimated 7.8 million researchers each traveling to one conference a year is equivalent to that of some small nations. In contrast, organizers of two fully virtual conferences in the U.S. estimated that their total carbon emissions were less than 1 percent of a traditional “fly-in” event.”;
- More accessible: larger, diverse audiences as people can more readily join from any location, like regional areas, with no real limit on attendance numbers;
- Better viewing experience: Conference platforms providing live streaming with enhanced zoom-in/out technology providing a ‘best seat in the house’ experience;
- Targeted networking: Virtual lobbies and exhibition halls enhance networking opportunities a by providing better access to people, rather than seeing that person you really wanted to speak with, disappear on the other side of the conference hall.
The IPWEA Australasian Fleet Conference provides these benefits, using the state of the art Aventri event management platform to enhance the whole experience for attendees. Whilst it will no doubt be different to the physical conferences of past years, we’re confident it will provide unique benefits from the online format and will make this year’s conference one to remember.