Considering the Virtual Experience

The Future of Live Meetings & Events

Having been in the events industry since 1994, I have tried to learn something new every day. Surviving the recession and a variety of flues, I felt our team could handle anything the industry threw at us. Through good years and terrible years—I thought we were unflappable.

Yet, here we are, feeling extremely flapped! It’s been a tough couple of months. MGME has made some hard decisions, setting us up to withstand this storm. Our team is amazing, sacrificing for each other and living our values. Our people really are our heart and soul. Thankfully, and most importantly, we haven’t lost any of our teammates or their close family members to this terrible virus.

The Meeting and Events industry, however, has suffered losses like I have never seen. Though it will come back to life, it’s safe to say the landscape will look much different than it did in February. What comes next? I’m very excited to see the innovations driven by change. The entire industry is talking “virtual events.” Many of our clients already embrace the technology. Virtual events allow them to engage attendees, stuck in their homes around the world, with dynamic and educational content. But what happens when this is over? Live events will never go away. There isn’t a digital product available that will replace the experience of looking someone in the eye and shaking their hand (if that remains an acceptable social convention). At a live event, I can watch a 90-minute keynote and leave wanting more. After 30 minutes on a webinar, I often have to push myself to stay focused. Virtual events are much better than nothing at all, but they are not a replacement. As an extension of a live event, virtual allows us to engage a wider audience. These Hybrid Events have been around for many years but not widely embraced. I see that changing from this point forward. We are going to see different constituencies attending events. Attendees focusing on experience, relationships and networking, as well as content, will attend in person. Those who cannot attend or are purely focused on content will attend virtually. As event companies, we must consider multiple delivery channels, so content is consumed by the live audience while engaging the wider digital world. This opens up engagement and revenue opportunities that weren’t available before.

Some believe live meetings will take a while to come back. I think there is some truth to that. However, we see momentum growing for the fall and the winter. Our clients’ want to get their people together as soon as possible. That makes sense to me. Many of their industries are being hammered by the state of the economy. Their employees are spread out, scared, and feel detached from the company. Their first priority is to assemble their people, assure them that everything will be ok, and develop the strategies that will drive them into 2021.

That is where we excel. MGME creates human connections—bringing people together to make great things happen. It is our mission to help our clients educate, innovate and collaborate, across the globe. Today, it may be hard to see the end of this crisis. It is there, glimmering just beyond the horizon. If I look really hard, I can see it and I am hopeful.

Jeff Guberman
Chief Executive Officer
McVeigh Global Meetings and Events
Email Jeff