In international business, it is common to see numerous exhibitions, conferences and summits held every year. There seems to be a global event to match every taste and purse. However, with global lockdowns and the resulting cancellation of many face-to-face events, most business has shifted online.
A couple of years before the pandemic, online events were often developed and run in addition to the usual in-person business events. Online events were in many ways considered workaround alternatives to in-person events or ways to generate interest in an event before its “real” in-person program began. Today, as the market has rapidly become immersed in virtual communication, the influence and power of online events has grown.
"After the first wave of the coronavirus, online conferencing was perceived with both apprehension and excitement. In the spring and summer of 2020, people were not yet in the habit of communicating online via Zoom. Over time, this forced move online turned out to be advantageous for both event organizers and participants,” says Anna Shkolnaya, Marketing Specialist at AsstrA. “Firstly, there was no need to find a venue for the event, and the online format allows a virtually unlimited number of participants. Secondly, with no need for participants to be on site, the financial and time costs of travel are eliminated.”
The format’s advantages come along with disadvantages. Many event organizers translated face-to-face event structures straight online without fundamental changes and adaptations. As a result, participants faced hours of presentations and parallel round tables in Zoom rooms. Also, there have also been interruptions in connectivity, broadcast quality, and soundk.
"Online event organizers should made it a priority to keep a balance between the informative and the entertaining aspects of business meetings. Internet listeners need to feel fully engaged in the discussions on the agenda. Therefore, good organizers have learned to build a dialogue with speakers and participants, arrange interaction, and keep track of speaking time so that delegates 'on the other side of the screen' don't get bored and distracted," adds Anna Shkolnaya.
Most international logistics exhibitions are still limited by quarantine measures. European organizers of major transport industry exhibitions such as SITL Paris, BreakBulk Europe, Transport Logistics Munich, and SIL Barcelona have canceled their face-to-face formats and taken the events online. Now, event participants register on a special online platform, make appointments, and maintain virtual contacts.
Covid-19 restrictions are gradually being lifted in the CIS countries. In Russia, for example, the long-awaited TransRussia logistics exhibition was held in its usual format from 12 to 14 April 2021.
Increasingly, business circles are talking hopefully about the return of the 'live' meeting format. Experts say that the main trend for the next couple of years will be hybrid online and offline formats, where there will be remote connectivity in addition to face-to-face attendance.
"Going forward, formats will depend on the scale of the events: a narrowly focused round table is easier and quicker to organize online. Large, international exhibitions being held online, on the other hand, are a cost of the pandemic that will soon be a thing of the past,” sums up Anna Shkolnaya.