The Hounded Meetings Industry

12th Aug, 2020

As I wrote before, when the pandemic started, I retreated in my garden for a bit to work quietly and think deeply about a new vision for conferences. It was like the smallest sharpshooter in the world managed to smash up an entire world industry with the smallest bullet. Then, because I wanted to find a way out in my thinking about the future, I left the path of philosophy and went down the path of economy.

The aviation industry, the meetings industry, the catering industry, and the whole world of events have suffered the greatest damage arising from the coronacrisis. What all these industries have in common is that they are at the heart of the experience economy. The virus managed to damage our modern lifestyle at its heart. No more travelling, no more sitting together, no more fully enjoying a destination: that is what the little SARS-CoV-2, like a hobgoblin, has done to us.

In my train of thought, I realised that the experience economy was based on a very strong business model: consumers were willing to pay a premium price for unique, exclusive, tailor-made experiences. As it was, the experience economy had proved to be particularly crisis-proof after the banking crisis of 2008. A conference is a prime example of this economy and shares all of its characteristics.

But that’s also why, this time, we are so exceptionally hard-hit. We have landed flat on our backs, nevertheless the ability to do everything digitally will not help us get back on our feet. 

What will be the upshot of this?

Traditional conferences will be relegated to the background and associations will have to look for new forms of income. Right now, we can be almost certain that experiences – all kinds of gatherings – will be more private, more exclusive and often more expensive. Perhaps this will herald an evolution towards meaningfulness rather than numbers.

After all, the need for a sense of connection and physical contact has never been greater.

Text by Marcel A.M. Vissers -
Editor in Chief of HQ Magazine 

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