When Will Conferences Return?

Beyond Social Media Show Segment Transcript

David Erickson: I’ve got some questions for you. When do you think you would go to a conference?

BL Ochman: Live conference?

DE: In-person conference.

BL: It’s going to be awhile. It will be after the vaccine has been tested by a whole lot of people who are not me. And after there has not been a spike for I don’t know, maybe six months. I’m not going anywhere with a lot of people anytime soon. Sadly, because I like doing that, but no, not happening.

DE: When do you think a vaccine will come along? I mean, when do you think that will happen? That you’ll feel safe enough to be able to go to a conference?

BL: Twelve to eighteen months for the vaccine and then I will wait. I mean, my doctor says when a new vaccine comes out, my doctor generally says let’s wait six months to see if anybody has bad side effects from it and often they do.

When People Will Go To Conferences Again?

DE: Yep. So you are kind of in line with some… This is from a Mark Schaefer posts and he did some research on his own. Now, it is only 126 people. So it is not by any means sound statistically. But he asked 126 conference goers but not those whose income depended on conferences; so not conference organizers, not speakers at conferences, just people who would be going to conferences and—

BL: As a participant.

DE: –as a participant. And he asked them three questions: What is the most likely timeframe large conferences (over 500 attending) will return? And when is it likely small events will return (under 100)? And what milestone event would have to occur to once again attend a conference? You know, I think I feel the same way about under one hundred as I do about large conferences, and…

BL: Me too. You’re talking to somebody who’s afraid to go to the grocery store, do you think I’m gonna get on a plane and go to a conference?

DE: Yeah, well, I exactly. Well, right, get on a plane too; that’s the other part of it.

BL: Yeah.

DE: Get on a plane, book a hotel.

BL: Right.

DE: One, two; and then the conference itself and then the, you know, the Uber or whatever the taxi or whatever the ride to the conference. So–

BL: The restaurants.

DE: –environments in which you are, you know, there’s a danger posed to your health. And, you know, one hundred people; that’s a distinction without a difference to me, between one hundred and a thousand when it comes to the spread of the virus.

BL: I agree.

DE: Yeah, so…

BL: It’s sad, though.

Statistics About When People Will Feel Safe At Conferences

DE: It is. He interviewed these people and compiled the results. So when will people return to large conferences?

Eight percent said by the end of this year, by the end of 2020. Twenty-eight percent by the first quarter of next year. Thirty-three percent said by the second quarter of next year. Eleven percent by the third quarter of next year. Four percent by the fourth quarter. And thirteen percent by sometime in 2022. And then two percent said beyond 2022.

Chart: When Will People Return To Large Conferences?

And I got to think–it’s a long post, it’s really…if you’re interested in this is a really good read, and very thoughtful. But you said twelve to eighteen months before–

BL: Yeah.

DE: Yeah. That’s where most of these people were at. And I’m like, we’re lucky. We’re really, really lucky if we get a vaccine; if they just come up with a vaccine in 12 to 18 months. And then there’s the time you need to test it to make sure that it’s safe. I think, what? The fastest a vaccine was developed was four years. HIV still doesn’t have a vaccine. And that’s been since, what? the late seventies?

Virtual Events

BL: Seventies, yeah. I think this one is going to be faster because they just are so…pushing so hard for it. But you know, all in all, it’s a really bad sign. I mean, but the other thing is, okay, I have a press pass to Social Media Week. I think we’re in week two at the moment. I have yet to attend a session, because I’m really not compelled to do it.

You know, if you travel and you’re there, that’s what you’re there for. You go to the session. I’m doing something else and I forget. You know, and they’re not handling it well, because they’re not sending me reminders, either.

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