As the novel coronavirus spreads across the world, avoiding public gatherings has become a necessity. For the event industry, this has obviously been a huge blow.
Most brands have either postponed or canceled their upcoming events. While one might think everything has ground to a halt for the event industry until the virus is under control, there’s a twist.
Businesses have continued to run remotely by moving their work online—yes, including the event industry.
Let’s look at how some brands with large followings have taken their events online during the pandemic.
Adobe delivers experience through its virtual summit
On March 3, the software giant Adobe had to make the difficult yet necessary decision to take its summit online. Its recently converted digital summit is expected to gather about 16,000+ industry leaders and inspirational speakers.
Though this caused a huge disappointment in some members of the community, most understood and appreciated the effort to still deliver some sort of experience. To give back to its community, Adobe refunded the ticket charges and hosted the entire event online for free.
With around 20.9K tweets coming up through the days of the summit, Adobe kept the energy going even in the online space.
SXSW announces its jury on their website and Twitter
South by South West (SXSW), a popular conference and festival for the tech and media industries, was called off just a week before the event was supposed to happen due to the pandemic.
The festival plays a significant role in boosting the profiles of smaller, unconventional films. Having understood this loss for its community, in another update on March 24, SXSW announced its jury and special awards online.
Janet Pierson, SXSW’s Director of Film, said this:
“Our hearts were broken for all the filmmakers who invested so much time and talent in their work, hoping for a transformative experience at our event. We’re honored to at least be able to present our juried and special awards. We know that it’s no substitute for the actual festival’s vitality, enthusiasm, and potential for surprising outcomes – and that it is only available to a small fraction of our program – but we hope it will help garner some well-deserved recognition for these wonderful works.”
Unfortunately, SXSW couldn’t give out all the awards it usually does, including the influential Audience Award. However, even in the current crisis, the festival did its best by taking the event online and making great use of social media.
Microsoft brings its MVPs together using its cloud software
For more than two decades, Microsoft has been running the MVP awards for its Most Valued Professionals who understand and contribute to Microsoft’s community with their knowledge and expertise. Like many other brands, in the light of safety and the advisory from the government, Microsoft has had to cancel its live event.
Nonetheless, they kept their spirits high and got the show running online. Looks like going virtual didn’t hinder their party after all. This proved fortunate for some who were struggling with the visa process and could now attend the show virtually.
To add to their celebration (and help with marketing), Microsoft got their attendees to post a selfie of them attending the event.
NVIDIA hosts webinar series instead of its GTU conference
One of the leading GPU manufacturers, nVIDIA, announced it was moving its GTC conference completely online on March 2.
Their CEO and co-founder, Jensen Huang, delivered the keynote speech live, which was streamed to the attendees.
GTC also live-streamed its events, including webinars, training, and Connect with Experts sessions. They made registration for this event free, in addition to on-demand webinars that were announced to be released every Thursday on their website.
NVIDIA also introduced its GTC Digital mobile app for attendees to interact and network with other event participants.
Atlassian goes from Las Vegas to a remote Summit
Soon after canceling its decade-old Summit, set to happen in Las Vegas this year, Atlassian announced it was going completely online to protect the health and safety of its community.
Atlassian, known for its software that helps with remote work, naturally hosted these sessions on managing remote work using its online tools. About 30+ demos and breakout sessions took place.
As the summit was virtual and free, Atlassian expects to get more participation from its customer community.
Facebook celebrates its developer community online
F8, Facebook’s annual conference, is intended for developers and entrepreneurs who build their services around Facebook and is usually where the company brings out new features and makes announcements. In the concern of the health and safety of its attendees, Facebook moved the event, scheduled to happen in San Jose, the event will be held online and live-streamed to its community. Obviously, going live isn’t new to Facebook’s CEO or its community.
Apple’s WWDC announces its new online format
In its 31st year, Apple announced an all-new online format for hosting WWDC 2020 for consumers, the press, and developers.
Per their website,
“The WWDC 2020 program will provide Apple’s entire global developer community — which now includes more than 23 million registered developers in more than 155 countries and regions — and the next generation of app developers with the insights and tools needed to turn their ideas into a reality.”
The new online event is expected to be a great opportunity for developers to get early access to the future of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and engage with Apple engineers.
IBM Think chooses digital events
Scheduled to draw over 30,000 attendees, IBM canceled its major annual event, IBM Think 2020, which was supposed to happen in San Francisco. IBM’s CEO, Thomas Harrer, talked in a tweet about recreating IBM Think 2020 as a global, digital-first event around the same dates.
Think 2020 is expected to be a combination of live-streamed content, interactive sessions and certifications, and locally hosted events that would highlight IBM’s technology and expertise for its developers and clients. All of this would be available for free.
F5 secures its event attendees and their applications
F5, an application services and security company, canceled its in-person event for Agility 2020, the developer summit that was supposed to happen in Orlando, Florida.
On its website, F5 announced,
“We are rapidly developing an alternative to Agility as a virtual experience in the near term to deliver valuable lab, break-out session, certification, and keynote content to our customers and partners.”
CISCO Live goes full-scale digital
CISCO, like many others, moved its two-day event from Las Vegas to completely online. In light of practicing social distancing, CISCO wants to do it right. So this year, CISCO has announced its event will be free and hosted digitally for all its attendees. They will also refund all tickets already booked for this event.
The live-stream sessions included keynotes, talks, and technical content, along with on-demand technical deep-dive sessions, opportunities to interact with experts, and social media contests.
Brands have taken this pandemic seriously and made great strides to abide by social distancing recommendations in their own ways. One thing we know for sure is this phase is going to pass, either in a matter of months or in a year. The event industry is going to survive, though in a different form for the time being.
In closing, the projection for a post-COVID-19 world looks quite interesting for the events space. Having realized that digital presence can indeed mean as much as physically showing up, organizers and attendees alike will now have a newfound definition to add to their traditional understanding of events.
Apart from proven operational savings on travel, stay, and venue costs, remote (virtual) events could make a compelling case for moving venues from a pin on the map to a URL on the web or a combination of both.
When the dust settles and people are safely allowed to come out of their houses, it’ll be the event organizers, who are already making adjustments in the event space, who bring the crowd together through both online and offline events.
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