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Meetings move online

Going virtual is the name of the game for now

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Remaking events. Credit: Getty images

USA - The coronavirus outbreak has had a major impact on the entire meetings industry already, forcing event organisers to cancel or postpone their conventions, trade shows and conferences.

While the situation is evolving rapidly and the full impact on event stakeholders and the wider economy is just beginning to be felt, a number of organisers have responded to the crisis by remaking them as digital meetings. Here is a roundup of events that are going virtual.

•    Microsoft Build, the software giant's biggest event of the year, was scheduled to take place in Seattle on 19-21 May, until the event was moved to being online only. "We look forward to bringing together our community in this new digital format to learn, connect, and grow together," the organisers wrote.

•    Gift-card strategy and growth conference, Flourish, will be a digital-only event, taking place March 16-17. Dubbed Flourish Virtually, a number of the event's sessions will be available to join remotely, including the unveiling of consumer research conducted by Scio Motus that utilises social listening and AI powered by IBM Watson, a panel of incentive providers and merchants, and "a real-time hacker to expose contemporary gift-card fraud methods."

•    Engineering company, Aruba Networks, rebranded its Atmosphere'20 Las Vegas as Atmosphere'20 Digital, which will take place as a virtual event on March 23-27 rather than in Las Vegas, as originally planned. It said: "We plan to broadcast the opening keynotes as scheduled on March 24th and will offer virtual breakout sessions. With so many technologies to announce and explore, we hope you'll join us for an exciting online event."

•    Salesforce Connections, originally planned to be held in Chicago from 4-6 April, will now be an online event. "After careful consideration, we've decided there will be no physical event for Connections," wrote the organisers. "Instead, we will reimagine Connections as a virtual experience and deliver a full programme of inspiring sessions and educational content. While times may be uncertain, there is one thing that remains true: amazing things happen whenever the Salesforce community comes together. We are excited to come together virtually for Connections and we look forward to sharing more details in the coming weeks."

•    Adobe Summit, the software company's customer and employee conference, scheduled to take place March 29-April 2 in Las Vegas, will now be an online-only event. Attendees will be able to watch the event's keynote live (covering trends and new products) and check out more than 100 breakout sessions on demand.

•    Nvidia has turned GTC, its GPU Technology Conference, scheduled for 22-26 March at the San Jose Convention Center, into an online-only event. Starting on March 25, attendees can join in on live talks and Q&A sessions, hundreds of on-demand recordings, hands-on Deep Learning Institute training and one-on-one "office hours" with Nvidia engineers and researchers.

•    McDonald's has turned its worldwide convention, scheduled for April at Orlando's Orange County Convention Center, into an online-only event.

Many meetings industry organisations are offering live webcasts and educational workshops that attendees can join virtually, or review later on demand. A few of the offerings available:

•    Northstar Meetings Group is presenting an upcoming webcast on "Welcoming the Virtual Attendee," on April 8 at 2pm ET, in which virtual-meetings experts J Elise Keith and Nancy Settle-Murphy will share their expertise on taking a live event online or incorporating virtual elements into a live show.

•    The American Society of Association Executives has a webcast available on "Coronavirus: Community Conversation on Association Impact," featuring experts from Infectious Diseases Society of America, Tenenbaum Law Group and more.

•    The Events Industry Council recently hosted a webcast called, "Discussion of critical insurance and legal considerations for event professionals."

•    International Association of Exhibitions and Events hosted a webcast with experts who addressed legal considerations when considering cancelling an event, which can be viewed on demand here.

•    The International Association of Venue Managers offers an on-demand webcast called, "Venue Industry Update on the Coronavirus."

This is an abridged version of an article that first appeared in Northstar Meetings Group.