Nothing is the same in business post-covid. Why should conferences remain the same? And so it was that I spoke at my first large conference with thousands of attendees a few weeks ago. Here’s what you can expect at your next conference or big event:
Travel More Painful
At least Internationally. I had to jump through a few extra hoops to get myself checked-in on my flight and to ensure that I did a covid rapid test prior to even being allowed to check-in electronically. At my local airport, I’d heard about the legendary line-ups and delayed luggage. Taking every precaution and brining no luggage except a tiny carry-on, I wore the same jacket at the conference for 4 days in a row. As a fashionista, it’s not something I’m proud of and I’m wondering how I’ll be able to pack a carry-on with winter clothes in the upcoming months…
At our conference, there was daily mandatory covid testing or vaccine validation prior to being allowed to board shuttles or enter the main building of the event. It was done very professionally and respectfully and made everyone feel safe. However, we had to budget more time for transport and clearance. I can only imagine the complexity or the enormity of the responsibility in post-covid event planning!
My biggest, boldest accessory wasn’t my orange jacket (that I wore every day!). No, it was my new smart business card. With one tap of my metal business card onto a phone, I was able to transfer (and ask for theirs in return) all my info, my calendar links, a copy of my book and links to my TV appearances. See the picture above! I wasn’t alone, a lot of folks had less fancier versions of QR codes for me to scan with my photo app. Aside from the paperless new normal, it was also soundless. For the first time in my life, I spoke on a stage with silent microphones that were piped into earbuds that people in the audience were given at the conference. This was to reduce noise pollution between the nearby trade show and breakout stages. It was a marvel to see and hear (with a few hiccups..)
Was it post pandemic nervousness, or was it the time of year? I’m not sure but this big event drew about 2/3 of it’s usual crowd. I’ve heard of similar accounts from other event planners and attendees. But the good part? There was such excitement, engagement and enthusiasm for those that did show up. It was a wonder to see and to live.
So, the next conference you go to, prepare to be surprised and maybe even delighted by some of the changes that mark the New Normal of the business world.