As Good As Being There?

September 8, 2010

In the events world there is a lot of chatter about virtual and hybrid events. Last February I was fortunate enough to be a part of Event Camp NYC which combined a face-to-face meeting with an interactive webcast. It was a great experience and I met so many great people.

Tomorrow I will be on the other side of computer as I participate as a virtual attendee in Event Camp Twin Cities. This follow-up event to the NYC event is expected to have a much richer virtual experience than the one that was produced in NYC. One of the reasons is that they have collaborated with Emilie Barta to serve as a virtual host. As a professional trade show personality and a leading hybrid meetings hostess, I expect Ms. Barta to fully engage the virtual audience during non-session time. Having someone in this role really distinguishes this event as a true hybrid event and adds a large degree of sophistication to this barcamp style meeting.

I have no doubt that the co-founders, Samuel Smith and Ray Hansen, have done a great job in putting together a great program. So what is my concern? My personal concern is that it won’t be the same experience as being there in person.

For example, tonight the attendees are all running around Minneapolis on a digital scavenger hunt. They are most likely bonding over adult beverages and sharing war stories. This experience will lay the foundation for a strong meeting tomorrow. So what about me? Will I benefit from the at-home experience? Sure, I can read the tweets during the scavenger hunt, but it’s not the same at all.

Will I learn something tomorrow? Will my virtual interaction be enough for me? Or can nothing replace the face-to-face experience?

Stay tuned for my thoughts as I attend Event Camp Twin Cities, live from Edison, NJ. Please share your thought on this and other hybrid events that you have attended.

Good luck Sam, Ray, Emilie and everyone else at #ECTC10.