NamesCon Online concluded last week, and from what I can tell, the event was a very big success. Although I only caught a little bit as I had been traveling back from a long trip, I appreciate that I can log on to the conference website at my convenience to watch some of the panels that sound most interesting to me. These sessions will be available to event passholders until the end of September.
There have been several people who wrote about NamesCon Online, and it seems like many people who attended would like to see a similar virtual event in the future. Since I have not yet participated, I can’t give my opinion one way or the other. However, because it seems to have been such a big success, I think it would be great if NamesCon hosted a hybrid event in the future.
I enjoy attending NamesCon, primarily for the face to face discussions I have with longtime friends and colleagues. It doesn’t hurt that the conferences have been held in cities that are either known for tourism and good restaurants/nightlife. I think there are people who attend NamesCon for similar, in-person networking. Despite the big turnout, there were a few people who emailed and texted me for various reasons last week, and the majority did not participate in the event even though they would have attended in person.
With the success of the Online edition of NamesCon, I would like to see NamesCon host a hybrid conference in the future. I would envision the conference could be held with a smaller footprint, and keynoters and panelists could choose to attend in person or use the online platform. People can either attend a panel in a ballroom or watch it live through the online platform as it happens. Online attendees could be treated as if they are in the room – asking questions or participating in the discussion. This is just how the auctions have been run for years.
Having a hybrid conference would draw a diverse group of speakers like it did for the Online event. People from around the world could participate, particularly those people who have something interesting to share about a topic that would be too small to spend money on attending but makes sense to attend virtually. This type of event would also allow those people who wish to travel and meet in person a similar opportunity as before.
There are many people who would prefer an online event for a variety of reasons. Some people probably can’t justify the travel expense and/or can’t afford to take time off from a full time job or family members who attend school or need other support. Others will likely be concerned about traveling due to Covid-19 concerns, even if/when a vaccine is available and the pandemic is hopefully on its way out. I also don’t believe a vaccine will be evenly distributed around the world, and a virtual event will make this event more open for people who come from around the world.
Put simply, a (likely) large percentage of attendees and participants would choose a virtual event over an in-person event, even after this pandemic passes, but plenty of people would still prefer the in-person activities.
I know I am getting ahead of myself since it is unlikely that in-person events will be held anywhere for the foreseeable future. I also understand that event planning takes considerable time, and 2021 events and conferences are already being planned. I think a hybrid event would make a lot of sense.