Last weekend was our 11th anniversary. Last year we celebrated a decade with a new logo, new name, and a shift in focus. Throughout the last year we’ve been lucky enough to help develop some amazing brands, spoken about the impact of social good, and really raised the bar on some of the management consulting and coaching we have been doing.
Every year I reflect on what’s happened and what’s changed. But now the world looks so very different than it did two months ago. Companies and struggling to stay afloat and associations and event producers of all types are looking at ways to relevant and produce virtual content.
Online events are not new, and certainly not new to us. We explored and experimented with virtual and hybrid meetings since our inception. As founders of Eventcamp, we were on the frontlines of the virtual movement. But guess what? The formats didn’t gain the same popularity that other social media or interactive tools like Instagram or even AI like Alexa have. Sure, we’ve had live streaming of product launches. We’ve nearly 4 BILLION Facebook Live broadcasts. But your everyday meeting or convention? The results have been blasé.
Yes, yes, I know. Many of us have used Skype, or Zoom for years. Video conferencing is not a new concept and even The Jetsons knew it was coming back in 1962. But mass adoption did not happen until 2020. It didn’t happen until we had no other alternative. But is it really the future of meetings? I hope not.
One of the biggest lessons I learned as we produced Eventcamp was that face-to-face was essential. Sure, we can attend a virtual tradeshow, we can have chatrooms, team building sessions and collaborate with people across the globe. The technology is there, but it’s not a replacement for live, in-person connections.
For those of us who have spent time creating event engagement strategies, we know the concepts apply online and in a virtual environment. You can’t simply stick a microphone in front of a presenter and have them drone on for an hour and hope people pay attention. The techniques may vary slightly in a virtual environment, but the human element remains the same.
The reason quarantine is hard because as humans, we get energy from being around other people. Even the introverts among us benefit from in-person human interaction filled with body language, pheromones and physical touch. Sure, I can watch a presentation, even ask questions of a speaker. I could even hop into a Zoom Room and have a small group discussion about the topic. We could whiteboard out a solution to a pressing problem in the allotted time frame. Technology can do a lot. But what can’t it do?
You can’t grab a beer at 10pm and share a problem that’s been weighing on you. You can’t accidentally bump into someone in an elevator and make a new friend or client because you were admiring their dress. You can’t be immersed in an experience, away from the distractions of real life. Even in the most creatively crafted online events, we are missing real human contact.
Is it possible to develop relationships and real business online. 100% Yes. I have clients who I have built strong trust with and have never actually met them in real life. I even have employees who I’ve know so long I forget we’ve never been in the same room. We strategize. We create. We sell. We even get to know about each other’s families, pets, and hobbies. But I would be lying if I said something was missing. We haven’t built memories. Face-to-Face matters.
I struggled to write this annual post. It doesn’t feel like a time for celebrating. However, the more I thought about it, the more I remembered who we are. We connect people. And in 11 years, nothing has mattered more. Creativity and strategy are a means of success, but they aren’t everything. In business, in life, the people you are connected to are your most valuable asset.
I’m proud of the work we have done in teaching people how to leverage technology. In designing events. In building out CRM systems. In launching brands and websites. In coming up with out-of-the-box campaigns. All of that work is meaningful. But more than anything, it’s the relationships we’ve created, facilitated, and nurtured that are the real magic.
As we commemorate the 11-year mark, I say thank you. Not thank you to brands or companies, but to the people behind them. The people who have believed in us from day 1. The people who have hired us, referred us or simply been there to cheer us on. Your friendships are everything and I am grateful to you every day. And most of all, I look forward to being together again.
Thank you for being here for the last 11 years. Please join us for 11 more.