Thousands of events have had to be cancelled this year due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Wiki itself has created a list of events effected by the pandemic, which notably include the Summer Olympics, the 21st British Soap Awards, and the Glastonbury Festival to name but a few.
While many companies have decided to cancel or postpone their events many have opted instead to innovate and create virtual conferences.
Earlier this month we exhibited and sponsored the insurance industry’s first virtual conference – The Digital Transformation in Insurance Conference. It brought together European insurers, insuretech, brokers and solution providers.
Attendees were able to explore how to utilise the latest technology that would help them expand their business and foster relationships with insuretech providers.
Is this the future?
So, are virtual conferences going to be the way of the future? We certainly think (and hope) so. There are several reasons for this.
- People are transacting digitally more frequently due to Covid-19. Trust has been improved through the regular use of websites to deliver equipment, groceries and other essential and non-essential items through the likes of Amazon, major retailers and even smaller businesses that have specialised in delivering food and homemade masks.
- People have become more used to digital environments. Connecting via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Skype among others has become the norm within the workplace. We’ve become comfortable with talking to colleagues, friends and family members using video conferencing software so much so that it’s become second nature. We’ve even become used to seeing our favourite celebrities, comedians, artists and all sorts of entertainers through virtual shows in a variety of settings. Many events such as ours have been free due to sponsorship but people have been willing to pay to attend such set ups to be entertained and to learn.
- Seeking that vital connection: Around 45% of the global population is under some form of lockdown. While most of Europe and even now the UK is opening up to returning back to work, things will not resume to the way things were for several months or possibly even years. It’s now more important than ever to stay connected and share advice on how businesses can cope under this ‘new normal’.
- Content is more accessible: Have you ever wished that you could re-experience a talk? Virtual conferences such as the one we had this month give attendees the exact option to do so through recording. It even enables attendees to ‘attend’ more than one conference even if the timetables clash. It’s effectively put an end to making up your mind between two important topics and forgoing the other.
What could attendees expect from such conferences?
The first day of The Digital Transformation in Insurance Conference, speakers discussed the world post Covid-19 and how technology must evolve for businesses and individuals to be able to operate within it. Topics like digital disruption, remote working to support customers and pioneering machine learning AI technologies were also discussed.
On the second day attendees were given several breaks to visit the exhibition and network but then discussions resumed on topics such as ‘How behavioural economics coupled with big data can help insurers’, ‘Paperless solutions for business transformation insurance’ and how businesses could capitalise on the SME opportunity.
Importantly, this virtual conference provided a vital opportunity for networking. As well as having lots of visits to our virtual booth, we also got the chance to hear from lots of fantastic speakers.
However, this is sometimes where attendees still fall short – perhaps because they don’t yet feel comfortable in a digital setting or because they don’t have the right equipment. Setting up a digital office with phones, web cameras, microphones, the right backgrounds and lighting that can capture such experiences is vital. It helps to make interactions more professional.
So, it’s important you set aside time to do this and invest in the equipment as virtual conferences are here to stay. From our point of view – we can’t wait for the next ones.