Industry shows, galas and conferences move online

The thumbnail version:

  • COVID-19 has forced events online
  • It presents an opportunity for smaller shops in particular

The full version:

COVID-19 has caused many changes to the way we work, network, and attend shows, galas, and conferences. The latest example is the Best of Canada’s Sign Industry (BOCSI) awards gala.

This year it was livestreamed to more than 150 participants. It included a networking session and a running chat bar where participants could share comments. The benefit of running this type of event this way is that participants can join from the comfort of their shops or homes. There is no time lost to travel, no travel expense, and no accommodation expense.

In some cases this may become a permanent way for organizations to run shows, galas and conferences. For example, an art organization that for many years has hosted an annual conference in different cities around the U.S. for three or four hundred members, some of whom would travel from as far afield as Australia, went virtual on Zoom this year. Attendance was up over 700 hundred people from over 30 different countries. The money raised from paid attendance at the various workshops over the three-day conference far exceeded expectations and what the conference had raised in previous years. They’re considering making this a permanent arrangement.

This may be one of the legacies of COVID-19—online shows, galas, and conferences replacing the much more costly in-person events. If that is what happens, it presents an opportunity for smaller shop owners in particular to access industry events a lot more readily and with much less expense.

Something to look out for.