There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world today. One thing that scheduling professionals can be sure of, however, is that virtual events—as important as they’ve been during the COVID-19 pandemic—will never replace in-person events.
Now that more people have been familiarized with them, online “gatherings” will likely play a bigger role in keeping businesses and other types of organizations connected going forward, but they’ll never push face-to-face meetings and events out of the picture. Why? We can think of at least five reasons:
- Humans crave in-person connection. Yes, seeing someone on a video monitor is better than simply hearing their voice on the phone. But that still doesn’t compare to sitting down with them, where you can see them in vivid detail, pick up on their body language, smell their perfume, and just generally share a fuller, richer sensory experience with them.
- Some events have an essential physical component. Whether it’s a tai chi class or a product demo, there are just certain types of events that can’t be executed properly online.
- Physical proximity helps produce better results. When the content of a meeting is important but not terribly engaging, having other participants around you can make it easier to stay focused. It’s too easy to let your mind wander or get distracted when watching the session on your computer screen.
- In-person events are less affected by technology issues. If the microphone a presenter is using at an in-person event goes dead, there are ways to work around that problem. When an internet connection gets glitchy or goes down altogether, or a computer locks up, the people affected are cut off from the virtual meeting they were participating in, and there may not be anything that can be done. And if they are a key contributor, now what?
- Offsite meetings are a refreshing break from routine. For businesses or groups where people spend most of their time at the office, getting away to another location for a meeting or training session can be good for a person’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
The World Is Changing, But…
It’s hard to say what the meeting and events business will look like in six months or a year. It will surely look different than it did six months ago. But already we’ve learned that where there’s a will (to get together), there’s a way! Mask wearing, social distancing, and vigorous sanitizing may be with us for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean people hungry for human connection won’t be able to get it.