The Corona virus is not being contained, and each day we read of another event being shut down or companies pulling out--with SONY and Facebook being the most recent to cancel their participation in the Game Developers Conference.
Make no mistake, these are not easy decisions as sales, marketing and promotion all surround conferences, but it's the sales meetings and media launches that are hit the hardest. Hundreds of meetings with prospects. Thousands of man hours of training independent developers. Dozens of briefings with reporters, all that set the tone for what's coming next are sideswiped and pole-axed when a company pulls out of a conference, or like with Mobile World Congress, the event is cancelled. Travel plans go up in smoke and hotel rooms that are not-cancelable are written off as a loss. But let's first credit the companies who are pulling out, but putting their people before profit.
So, how will all the work and plans get delivered, now that the companies who are skipping the GDC tell their story? How will all the companies and people who had meetings set for Mobile World Congress do their jobs, make their quotas and hit their numbers? Those have to be the questions on everyone's minds.
Here are some suggestions/prognostications about what will fill the gaps:
For starters Video Conferencing is going to become front and center as the mode of communication. Companies are already adding accounts with ZOOM, and the stock price is benefitting. Traveling to see customers would be an expected effort, but with the Corona Virus spreading, many will opt for the video route vs. the airborne ones.
Media Relations will kick up and pick up. There will be more effort placed on mini-media conferences done virtually. Tools like WebinarJam and GoToWebinar, like Zoom, will pick up the slack of in person meetings with many media folks at one time and the virtual media conference will take form. The media will begin to be besieged event more with news releases, requests for briefings, more video being sent their way. Given other events are also scheduled, and how the media has to cover those as well, and if they are not cancelled, getting coverage will be tougher.
Greater use of Slack and Microsoft Teams outside of the organization. Shared Slack channels and the same with Teams will begin to become more used, as the need to collaborate without being in the same place rises due to the concerns about travel and the reduction in companies attending trade shows and conferences.
More shipping. Expect to see greater use of FedEx and UPS by more companies as items that previously would have been shown in person, need to be seen and held.
Greater Social Media Efforts-with the pressures and constraints of media space, time and location, greater emphasis will be put on using social media to engage more. We'll begin to see new engagement models, greater use of OPT-IN marketing and the need for more permissions from the sales side. On the buyers side, more use of ways to stay anonymous will arise. Unlike being at a trade show, where your badge tells all, the use of online search and information gathering allows for many more ways to be less known to marketers. This will only lead to more social media, an expansion of cross-marketing, and more.
More "Own Conferences" To Come--Once the Corona Virus is deemed under control, a cure found or outbreaks subside, many companies will turn to organizing their own conferences and customer gatherings. These events will be held in executive briefing centers, in large hotels with conference and meeting space and resorts. Once this happens expect hotel rates to rise and airfare availabilities to major business markets in the USA and around the world to rise.
These are all likely scenarios, and probably what's being discussed inside many companies right now. Plans have to be made, and work must go on. Technology is going to help in many ways, but it's still all about people who need to make things happen.