Virtual meetings have again come into the spotlight, with industry professionals warning that associations which don’t embrace them are “doomed to die”.
Experts were divided on the future of virtual meetings and hybrid events during an interactive discussion at the Meetings and Events Australia (MEA) national conference in Sydney yesterday.
Following discussions on the success of hybrid events overseas, MCI Australia managing director Ray Shaw conceded that hybrid events had limited success and did nothing more than compromise successful elements of the business and events industry.
“On a world-wide level, virtual meetings aren’t making any money. Hybrid meetings are losing too many of the important elements that make up our industry,” he said.
But counteracting his views, International Convention Management Services (ICMS) general manager Emma Bowyer hailed virtual events as an investment that was also a “critical” component of the business events sector.
“Virtual meetings are an investment in the future. The reality is that conferences are no longer about what’s happening in one room, they’re about what’s happening globally. So, virtual events are a great opportunity in this regard,” she said.
Bowyer dismissed suggestions that hybrid events would take over face-to-face contact, stressing that traditional events would always remain.
But facilitator Elizabeth Rich, who is also manager of Agenda Pty Ltd, was less reserved in her comments: “Associations that aren’t smart and staying up with what’s going on around them are doomed to die…The old days are gone, and relevance is now the key.”
Following the famous success of virtual events in the US, the panel agreed that it would be some time before the true success of hybrid and virtual events could be quantified.
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