Coronavirus Conference Impact More Widespread

A couple of weeks ago we reported on the impact coronavirus was having on major conferences. As of early March, the rapid spread of COVID-19 worldwide is having an even greater impact than first anticipated on the conference world. Some governments are banning all large events and many corporations are instituting travel restrictions and work from home policies for their employees. At this point, most of the major conferences have been forced to postpone or cancel their events while others are moving towards virtual conference formats.

Conference producers that have decided to forge ahead with their conference plans are now taking extreme precautions to ensure the safety of their attendees. Conference attendees are being encouraged not to shake hands (elbow pumps are the favored greeting), hand washing stations are being set up, rigorous cleaning efforts are being implemented and conference producers are working in conjunction with local health officials. As of the writing of this post, only a few conferences are still being held as scheduled:

  • Channel Partners Conference – March 9-12 in Las Vegas – Despite their title sponsor, AT&T, as well as 13 other exhibitors exiting the show due to travel bans they are continuing as scheduled
  • Bloomberg Equality – is still being held March 25th in New York

Most other conference producers are choosing to postpone or cancel their events:

  • WSJ CIO Network scheduled for March 2-3 in San Francisco was postponed until the fall (date TBD)
  • HIMSS has cancelled their event for March 9-13 in Orlando with no immediate plans to reschedule
  • SXSW – has cancelled their event for March 13-22, 2020 in Austin with no details on rescheduling
  • Facebook cancelled their Global Marketing Summit scheduled to take place March 9-12 in San Francisco
  • ShopTalk which was scheduled to take place March 22-25 in Las Vegas has been rescheduled to September 14-17
  • The TED Conference in Vancouver (April 20-24) is still deciding whether to postpone or hold the event virtually
  • Lesbians Who Tech has been moved from April 23-25 in San Francisco to August 6-8
  • TNW Conference 2020 which was scheduled to take place June 18-19 will now take place October 1-2 in Amsterdam

Some producers are replacing their conferences with virtual events due to coronavirus concerns. We see the trend towards virtual conferences increasing in the short term, however we don’t believe that virtual conferences will replace physical conferences in the long term as people highly value in person contact. Following are some of the notable conferences that have chosen to move to a virtual format:

  • CTO Forum Rethink Enterprise Technology, March 23-24
  • MIT Technology Review EmTech Digital, March 23-25
  • Adobe Summit, March 29-April 2
  • Google Cloud Next,April 6-8
  • IBM Think, May 5-7
  • Collision Conference, June 22-25

If you’re planning to speak at or attend a conference in the next 3 months or so, we highly suggest that you check to ensure the conference is still taking place.