Ever since the internet found its way into our homes and offices, we have seen common tasks and routines completely change. When was the last time you wrote an actual letter to someone or pulled out your chequebook? Digitization of daily life has made certain services or products more and more redundant. While “digital” can certainly have its limitations, it often is less costly and much faster than its analogue equivalent.
In our industry we see online learning or eLearning as digital alternatives to our conferences and training seminars. These often cheaper and easily accessible options raise the question as to whether physical attendance at a conference or training is still something of this time. Although the answer to this question is subject to personal consideration, we will try to make a humble attempt and build a case for physical attendance.
Just like Facebook can’t replace social life, online sessions can’t replicate the thriving networking climate you encounter when industry leaders meet together in 1 place. Conferences are a great place to meet the experts in your field. Interaction is often most effective when it’s personal, which is something you can’t reproduce in a digital context. We find it important that our delegates have an easy way to interact with each other as well as with the speakers. Our events always include a round of speed networking with networking opportunities throughout the day as well as a networking cocktail reception. The personal encounters you make can go a long way in securing business or landing new opportunities. You will have a hard time establishing those valuable contacts online.
We often receive positive responses after the conference from people that particularly value the amount of new inspiration they take back to their office. Even for those who didn’t attend, it can establish a great ripple effect because it sparks new ideas or provides answers to long-term challenges. Although you can certainly educate employees through digital channels, it’s very hard to recreate the ideal environment where people get truly inspired. The actual processing of information regularly takes place through informal, small-scale conversations, during lunch for example. It’s often the sharing of experiences that make topics tangible.
Conferences are not just a place to network or to learn, they are also opportunities to undergo new experiences and to see new places. We are in the business of creating events for people and therefore put a lot of effort into stimulating an atmosphere where our attendees feel comfortable. It starts with the selection of the city and the venue. Our favourite cities are Berlin, Vienna, Basel, Bratislava and Prague. They offer our attendees a great combination of culture, local cuisine and worldly sightseeing attractions. It’s obvious that an online session can’t offer you the experience and atmosphere a trip to an exciting capital city can give you. The atmosphere in turn can have a great influence on the things you learn and the people you meet.
Spending two days at an event really allows for true submersion into the topics related to your professional life. It also appeals to different learning styles and helps you to look beyond the usual context. It’s challenging to accomplish this during any online session.