Due to Coronavirus Outbreak, These In-Person Meetings Have Become Online Events

As COVID-19 disrupts the business events industry, these organizations have moved their meetings online.

The coronavirus outbreak has had a major impact on the entire meetings industry already, forcing event organizers to cancel or postpone their conventions, trade shows and conferences. While the situation is evolving rapidly and the full impact on event stakeholders and the wider economy is just beginning to be felt, a number of organizers have responded to the crisis by not cancelling their events, but rather remaking them as digital meetings. Here is a roundup of events that are going virtual.

  • Global Meetings Industry Day, the annual day of advocacy aimed at shining a light on the positive impact that face-to-face meetings, has been postponed. But Meeting Professionals International, in partnership with the Events Industry Council and the Meetings Mean Business Coalition will be hosting Global Meetings Industry Day: Virtual on April 14. Taking place over 12 hours, it will include sessions on stress management, leading in a crisis, safeguarding your small business and staying agile. More information and registration is here.

  • The Endocrine Society's annual conference, expected to attract 9,500 endocrine researchers and clinicians to San Francisco for the latest scientific information, has been turned into ENDO Online 2020, which will feature a mixture of on-demand and live programming for both clinical and research audiences. The event will take place from June 8-22 and include on-demand sessions focused on clinical topics, live programming dedicated to basic science, continuing medical education sessions and more.

  • The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) moved its annual event, originally scheduled to take place in Cancun, Mexico, into a Virtual Community Forum. It included five days of sessions from March 7 to 12 and attracted 1,759 virtual attendees — more than the live event drew last year.

  • The Women Tech Global Conference, hosted by WomenTech Network, which promotes gender diversity in the tech industry, has been turned into a virtual event. Speakers include leaders from Netflix, Amazon, Boeing and more. "At times like these we believe it is even more important to stand together even when being at the same place is not possible," the organizers wrote in a statement. "At times when we're advised to keep our distance, we look for new ways to connect. Therefore we decided to host the largest ever online conference for women in technology.

  • Microsoft Build, the software giant's biggest event of the year, was scheduled to take place in Seattle on May 19-21, until the event was moved to being online only. "We look forward to bringing together our community in this new digital format to learn, connect, and grow together," the organizers wrote. "Please watch for additional information coming soon. Sign up to receive updates about our digital event."

  • Gift-card strategy and growth conference Flourish became a digital-only event, taking place March 16-17. Dubbed Flourish Virtually, a number of the event's sessions were available to join remotely, including the unveiling of consumer research conducted by Scio Motus that utilizes social listening and AI powered by IBM Watson, a panel of incentive providers and merchants, and "a real-time hacker to expose contemporary gift-card fraud methods." Further information is here.

  • Engineering company Aruba Networks rebranded its Atmosphere'20 Las Vegas as Atmosphere'20 Digital, which will take place as a virtual event on March 23-27 — rather than in Las Vegas, as originally planned. "Over the next week, we will communicate a new schedule of video delivery for our top Atmosphere conference sessions," the organizers wrote in a statement. "We plan to broadcast the opening keynotes as scheduled on March 24th and will offer virtual breakout sessions. With so many technologies to announce and explore, we hope you'll join us for an exciting online event."

  • Salesforce Connections, originally planned to be held in Chicago on April 4-6, will now be an online event. “After careful consideration, we’ve decided there will be no physical event for Connections,” wrote the organizers. “Instead, we will reimagine Connections as a virtual experience and deliver a full program of inspiring sessions and educational content. While times may be uncertain, there is one thing that remains true: amazing things happen whenever the Salesforce community comes together. We are excited to come together virtually for Connections and we look forward to sharing more details in the coming weeks.”

  • Starbucks' annual shareholder meeting, scheduled for March 18 at Seattle's WAMU Theater, has been shifted to an online event. Attendees are invited to log in and take part in the update remotely, but "will not be able to attend the Annual Meeting physically."

  • The World Bank and International Monetary Fund have announced that their 2020 IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings, which usually attract thousands of economic officials to Washington, D.C., will be held in "virtual format." Though details have been limited, the event's organizers wrote in a March 3 statement that, "We remain fully committed to maintaining a productive dialogue with our stakeholders and will leverage our IT-related and virtual-connection capabilities to the fullest to hold our essential policy consultations with the membership. We will also continue to share IMF and World Bank analyses. With this adapted format, we are confident that our member countries will be able to effectively engage on pressing global economic issues at these Spring Meetings."

  • Adobe Summit, the software company's customer and employee conference, scheduled to take place March 29-April 2 in Las Vegas, will now be an online-only event. Attendees will be able to watch the event's keynote live (covering trends and new products) and check out more than 100 breakout sessions on demand.

  • Nvidia has turned GTC, its GPU Technology Conference, scheduled for March 22-26 at the San Jose Convention Center, into an online-only event. Starting on March 25, attendees can join in on live talks and Q&A sessions, hundreds of on-demand recordings, hands-on Deep Learning Institute training and one-on-one "office hours" with Nvidia engineers and researchers.

  • McDonald's has turned its worldwide convention, scheduled for April at Orlando's Orange County Convention Center, into an online-only event. 

  • TED 2020: Uncharted, originally scheduled to be held in Vancouver on April 20-24, has been postponed to July 20-26, or may make it a fully virtual event.

On-demand meetings industry events

Many meetings industry organizations are offering live webcasts and educational workshops that attendees can join virtually, or review later on demand. A few of the offerings available:

  • Northstar Meetings Group is presenting an upcoming webcast on "Welcoming the Virtual Attendee," on April 8 at 2pm ET, in which virtual-meetings experts J. Elise Keith and Nancy Settle-Murphy will share their expertise on taking a live event online or incorporating virtual elements into a live show.

  • IBTM Events launched IBTM Connect, an online resource hub for business events professionals to help navigate the current crisis. It includes an "Inspire Blog" of the latest news and insights from industry thought leaders, an on-demand library of industry speakers and more. "The launch is part of a three-step plan to keep exhibitors, hosted buyers and the wider industry connected as collectively we navigate the impact of COVID-19," the organization wrote in a statement. "Content will be refreshed regularly, including with weekly webinars from industry experts covering topics, including motivational keynote speaker Gary Bradt delivering a session on ‘how to cope during times of unprecedented change’ and Helen Moon, Founder and MD of Eventwell, talking about ‘mental health and wellbeing’."

  • STR is hosting weekly hotel performance webcasts in which Jan Freitag, STR’s senior vice president of lodging insights, offers quick-hit hotel performance data for the U.S. and Canada. They will cover national numbers as well as the key markets to show the most significant performance fluctuations as COVID-19 concerns broaden. They will take place Thursdays at 3:00 p.m. ET, beginning March 26 and recordings will be available of previous events. Register here.

  • Global DMC Partners has launched a "Together at Home" weekly webcast series. The first is on the topic of “5 Ways to Increase your Physical and Mental Immunity During a Crisis” on Tuesday, March 24th at 10 a.m. EDT and 2 p.m. EDT, hosted by certified personal trainer and iPEC Life Coach Ela Duga. Register here.

  • Web in Travel is hosting a webcast on "Managing Fear & Anxiety In Time Of Coronavirus," taking place on March 27 at 6 p.m. SGT. Dr Adrian Wan, psychiatrist and counsellor for Gleneagles Medical Centre, will discuss questions such as "How do we manage ourselves, as well as manage our customers’ fears, so we can hasten recovery whenever there is the slightest opportunity to do so?" It is part of WiT’s “Unity in Crisis” series of online events that delve into relevant, timely topics to generate discussion and debate. Register here.

  • SIIA hosted a webinar, “Coronavirus and Your Events: How to Make Decisions that Protect Your Business and the Safety of Your Staff,” on March 19 of industry experts sharing their strategies on how to minimize the negative effect of the current public health crisis on your events business while still keeping the safety of your stakeholders paramount. Listen to a full recording here.

  • The American Society of Association Executives has a webcast available on "Coronavirus: Community Conversation on Association Impact," featuring experts from Infectious Diseases Society of America, Tenenbaum Law Group and more.

  • The Events Industry Council recently hosted a webcast called, "Discussion of critical insurance and legal considerations for event professionals."

  • International Association of Exhibitions and Events hosted a webcast with experts who addressed legal considerations when considering cancelling an event, which can be viewed on demand here.

  • The International Association of Venue Managers offers an on-demand webcast called, "Venue Industry Update on the Coronavirus."