Big events used to be a great way to pull people together, motivate them, and update them on new information. Corporations held large internal meetings. And, industry associations held large annual conventions for their members.
However, the low cost of the Internet and the high cost of convention halls, hotels, and airlines - plus the lost productivity - has resulted in a decrease in the number of those huge corporate events and week-long industry conferences.
Seth Godin questions big event value
Seth Godin recently sparked a conversation on the Web on whether big events are still valuable. He was referring to large events such as product introductions, but the meeting/event industry used his piece to discuss the challenges of their industry.
And, the meetings and events industry that produces large events is facing some big challenges. I can name almost a dozen large conferences I used to attend that don't exist anymore. And, many other large events just aren't so large these days,
For example, a few weeks ago I attended a large industry association conference in Las Vegas to help a startup company research a manufacturing technology. Not being from that industry, we needed to get up to speed quickly, meet vendors selling that technology, and evaluate the technology.
Unfortunately, the conference had no educational sessions on this small, emerging technology. So, we met with the handful of vendors - whose booths were scattered across multiple buildings. And, since attendance at the show was down the people in the booths had plenty a time to talk with us.
It turned out that it would have been much more productive and inexpensive for us to attend a day-long seminar with presentations by just these vendors.
Replacing conventions and big conferences
What's replacing those huge conventions and conferences? Two things.
- First, of course, is the Internet. Initially, e-mail discussion groups and forums provided information more quickly than trade magazines and annual conferences. Today, webinars and self-paced e-learning deliver information and education where and when you need it.
- Second, local/regional meetings and events provide an easy and inexpensive way to meet with likeminded people face-to-face more frequently than at annual conferences. In addition, the quality of presentations at local groups and chapter meetings is frequently as valuable as those at large national conferences.
The big, expensive conferences will survive on lower attendance. They just won't be so big and expensive.
Local events & meetings
Expect to see a lot more local groups and organizations produce high-quality meetings and events around the narrow, specific interests of their members - which will reduce the need to fly off to large conventions.
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