A Look at Virtual Events – Is the face to face event industry dead?

Here is a story how Annex Business Media adapted to the unexpected disruption to their business model caused by Covid-19. Annex , the largest B2B publisher in Canada with over 64 B2B tittles and produces 35 industry events like conferences, trade shows, webinars and table top events. Well all their events are now cancelled and they had to quickly rethink this source of revenue.

The last market disruption that spurred the virtual event concept was 9/11 when the Virtual Trade Show concept was born. This was a naive attempt to replicate the trade show model online and was definitely a case of over promise from tech vendors. But online meetings started to flourish. companies like “ Go to Meeting” emerged to serve this space and is now a common business tool for sales staff. Webinars emerged as an effective tool to provide awareness for a company’s brand story and lead generation.

Scott Jamieson, COO of Annex Business Media decided to re-invent the company’s events model to a virtual conference. They adopted a 2.5 hour online conference model with a series of speakers. Below is a video from one of the conferences for Talent Canada for their Back to Work Virtual Summit held on May 27. The audience engagement for their virtual events saw good attendance, including USA visitors with one attracting over 300 people. They have done four so far for Talent Canada, Canadian Security, Canadian Manufacturing Online, and Firefighting and right now they are free to attend.

The webinar conference model is a viable tool for lead generation for companies in this digital age as face to face contact the epitome of relationship building to help your business grow is not available. Dennis Kelly  a media expert says the media mix which surrounds us is ever evolving and while platforms change, so do the users. We have an amazing adaptability to change and utilize the new tools to carve out a new reality, that includes an endless stream of measurement tools that monitor every waking, and probably sleeping moment. So it looks like we will all have to adapt the the online conference model, schools are doing this with on-line learning and the rest of the world is following suit.