Meetings No 26
Unlock Your Superpower
Atti Soenarso: If knowledge is power, learning is a superpower
Cover Story
Strong Networks and Even Stronger Relationships Are Critical to Success
Chantal Sturk-Nadeau on one of the world’s largest strategies in scale and scope.
Psychological Meetings
Hans Gordon on when social lubricants become dangerous weapons.
The Evolution of Faroese Music
The next step is to develop connections between artists and the international music market.
Position Yourself
Go a little bit out of your depth.
Industry Identity
Reflect, Reset and Redefine
Elizabeth Rich is a keen observer of an industry which remains close to her heart.
Ancient Knowledge
Forum Unites Ancient Societies with Global Investors on a Futuristic Platform
The world’s indigenous communities are owners of highly innovative businesses.
White Paper
New Study Spotlights How Socio-Political Changes in Europe Impact Events
Current trends influencing Europe as a meetings destination.
Copenhagen CB Strengthens Its Business Model for Congresses
Copenhagen Convention Bureau shares their insight and knowledge.
Technology Pivot
How the Pandemic Will Change Business Events for the Better
One thing is clear: technology will play an even more significant role moving forward.
Brain Research Shows Added Value in Live Events
Video cannot replace an event, but it does extend the lifespan of an event.
Solsbury Hill
Walking right out of the machinery.
Demand Networking
Don’t Accept Webinars as Good Enough
We need to sit down and evaluate what we are doing. Are we rolling towards the abyss?
IBTM World Virtual 2020 Goes Live
Over 10,000 meetings due to take place over the three days of the event.
IBTM World Virtual 2020
The latest keynote speakers at IBTM World Virtual presented.
×5 Your Positivity and Productivity During the Pandemic
Getting you into the rare-air that very few know.
Adding Value
Here East: An Intellectual Ecosystem
Innovation campus in the heart of the Olympic Village on the eastern fringes of central London.
A Political Perspective
Roger Kellerman wants us to learn what fragile states means for business.
November 17-19 in Orlando
GBTA Announces New Dates
for 2021 Convention.
Austria Center Vienna Bags Coveted Gold and Silver Stevie Awards
Best B2C event and rapid testing lanes most valuable company response to the Covid-19 crisis category.
hotel news
First Radisson Individuals in the Baltics Opens Its Doors in Tallinn
Palace Hotel Tallinn is a monument of national architectural heritage built almost 100 years ago and respectfully renovated.
€300+ millions
The Economic Impact of Messukeskus Helsinki Melted By 80 per Cent
Pandemic damage radiates over the business life of the entire Helsinki Metropolitan Area.
sleep congress is awakening
World Sleep Congress 2022 to Be Held In Rome
EGA Worldwide Congresses & Events formally contracted as DMC service provider.
digital move
ICC Sydney Expands Broadcast and Hybrid Event Solutions with Media Studio
The studio features green screen technology which allows for visual integration of presenters into customisable background content.
21–22 October 2021
Union of International Associations Round Table Asia-Pacific 2021
Hosted by Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau (TCVB) live and online.
hotel news Scotland
Virgin Hotels to Open in Glasgow
Pack your kilts, Virgin Hotels opens brand new Scottish property in 2022.
CB Italias platform
Convention Bureau Italia Premieres Box IT,
The Free Networking Online Platform for International Buyers Interested in Italy as a Mice and Wedding Destination.
new roles
Imex Group Invests in the Team With Nine New Appointments
Several new roles have been created within the business with significant investment in systems, marketing and design.
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Don’t Accept Webinars as Good Enough

The meeting industry: We are all in pain, I see that. Not all of us have moved fully into online meetings yet, and I understand that. But we need to sit down and evaluate what we are doing. Are we rolling towards the abyss?

Meeting professionals, doing classical onsite meetings and events, are very detail-oriented and very much aware of the importance of networking. Not always the case with events where the fun and wow factor were more dominant, but at most conferences, tradeshows, meetings, seminars, etcetera the “meeting among participants” was a cornerstone of success, the proven number one reason why participants came: To meet other people. If you ask participants: To learn from speakers always comes second.

Now the meeting industry is going online. I ­consciously say “going online” and not “pivot to the virtual” as I strongly believe the online meeting can be a real meeting, not a virtual one.

Let me explain. You have real people (not avatars) coming together with real speakers to listen to a real presentation and ask real questions leading to real answers, and some real learning happens. Nothing virtual about that.

Highly interactive or slightly active. But then it gets even worse, and that makes me worried about the industry. I see meeting professionals, large brands, and even tech-savvy influencers doing webinars, webinars and more webinars. Sometimes a nicely produced studio webinar and sometimes a simple webinar. Speaker and slides in a webinar.

I see “Highly interactive webinar” with only the chat box used, and participants may vote twice? Or we have 12 speakers in one hour? Sometimes there is even a professional MC (Master of Ceremonies) introducing the speakers or doing an interview. Highly interactive? I don’t think so. “Slightly active” sounds more like it.

Forget the inter in interactive as the participants cannot see how many are present, let alone see who is there, or, God forbid, can connect with anyone. Even the word participant itself is misplaced: “the audience” is closer to the truth. And the audience kept on listening.

Webinars, webcasts, web streaming galore! Sometimes even prerecorded. Ask yourself: What has become of me? Did I become a TV-producer? Did I become a teacher, or am I still a proud meeting professional? An organiser of gatherings of humans? The creator of connections, the builder of relations, the instigator of collaborations?

The holy trinity of meeting value is networking + learning × motivation. What happened to our number one? Where did we lose networking? Webinars? Come on. Seriously?

Are we just doing the easy thing? Or are we unconsciously doing a sloppy job online to protect our onsite past respectfully? I don’t understand it. To me, the industry seems suicidal. Because we don’t know what lies ahead?

Whatever lies ahead of us, online meetings and online events will remain part of what we do, more than ever. Let us prepare for the worst-case scenario and hope for the best one. With all those “zero-networking webinars”’ we are destroying meetings and scrapping our job.

We can do it. It is not rocket science. Go for 50 per cent of the time in small breakouts. Small group conversations are the golden nugget in online meeting design.

Be a Robin Hood! Steal minutes from your speakers and give them to your poor participants, each gets 50 per cent. Build that into your script, make it happen. We have to do it, or people may lose their appetite for meeting other people. That will be bad for the meeting industry and our jobs, bad for the economy and humanity.

Don’t accept webinars as good enough. Don’t let your AV-company turn you into a video producer. Say no to talking heads. Don’t accept voting and a chat box as interaction. Don’t accept a platform that doesn’t allow for small group conversations. Fight back and demand networking. Fight for your participants and their need to meet.

Good news: Zoom now allows for participants to choose during the meeting which breakout room they want to join.

Written by Maarten Vanneste, Meeting Support