Writers, like painters and any other artists, experience periods of creative burn-out and lack of inspiration. After spending several months thinking intensely about the future of travels and events, I am simply exhausted. What else have I to say about COVID-19? So many good things and so much nonsense have been written about this subject that I don’t feel like adding much more. I started with philosophical musings, after which I switched to economic solutions, all to no avail.
All I could do was listen to the practical experience of professionals. I did find a few answers at AIPC’s last annual conference, which was held both physically in Paris and virtually. As the international industry association for professional convention and exhibition centres, AIPC plays a crucial role in the future of these centres. The theme of the event - “re-generation”, examining the many ways in which our industry must re-imagine the kinds of facilities and services that are offered today - really appealed to me. Plus, I saved €1,250 by attending the congress digitally.
What did I learn from this? Two things.
First: online, good speakers on a relevant subject are more compelling to listen than during a physical congress. An almost historic example of this premise was the presentation held by Isabel Bardinet of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), definitely worth listening to again. And don’t ever use the expression “virtual congress”. Say “digital congress” instead, Bardinet reminded us.
Secondly: panel discussions make no sense on the digital level, especially when the participants are knocking on open doors and are tooting their own horn in a completely unnatural way. The panel discussion with the press and the DMC’s was a disaster. I wonder who took the time to listen to this clap-trap. I was instead pleasantly surprised by the speech of Aloysius Arlando, the president of AIPC and SingEx holdings Singapore. He showed attendees the friendly face of the AIPC.
Conclusion: I will definitely be attending more digital congresses in the future! They allowed me to save a lot of time and money, beside benefiting the environment. But... I am still dreaming of travelling to the vibrant congress city of Paris.
Text by Marcel A.M. Vissers
Editor in Chief of HQ Magazine
Supported by the Union of International Associations (UIA), the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) and the Interel Group, the global public affairs and association management consultancy, Headquarters Magazines serve the needs of international associations organising worldwide congresses.