Hybrid at last. At the beginning of the pandemic, when we were transferring all our events online, we spent a lot of time on the phone to others in the industry. One call in particular sticks in my mind: “David, when the pandemic is over, it will have had hardly any influence on the conventions we stage. They will continue pretty much unchanged.” To use a footballing analogy, you ought to get a red card for a statement like that. Anyone who hasn’t yet grasped that you can also make very good money with well-conceived online formats has been asleep at the wheel – not just during the pandemic but for the last 20 years.
In-person events will continue to be held after the pandemic. People long for them. And the social interaction they facilitate, with all the emotions, facial expressions and gestures that involves, is very difficult to reproduce online. Nevertheless, there will always be people who are interested in the content but can’t or don’t want to come to the event. Think of doctors in private practice who would have to close their surgeries for three days to attend a convention. Or people who find online content is good enough and aren’t so interested in coming together. For all of these people, hybrid events offer a genuine alternative. That assumes, of course, that absolutely everything offered at the event is streamed live and available online subsequently.
This is an opportunity to really tidy up our events: conventions with up to 20 parallel sessions are not participant-friendly. Let’s limit ourselves to a few live sessions, put all further training sessions online and allow sessions that have been added to the programme for reasons of vanity to just die. Let’s give participants more scope for networking and social interaction. There has never been a better time than now. Let’s be bold!