Coronavirus wreaks havoc on conferences

    This week we saw more conferences being cancelled. If the conference brings together large quantities of people (especially from all over the world), then the decision has be on the safe side to postpone or cancel.

    Organizers are now scrambling to reschedule while resolving the concerns of the exhibitors and attendees. On top of the actual participation costs, people will need to figure out how to deal with prepaid travel and other related expenses. Most venues are booked for the entire year with other events. Some companies may have no choice but to cancel until next year!

    Flipping from live to virtual is an option, but it’s a complex logistical challenge to switch live to virtual events.

    We have been doing ChannelNEXT conferences for 18 years and we have lived through SARS, a recession and many snow storms. Being resilient to these sorts of unforeseen challenges should be baked in to all conferences.

    Here are the 7 points that are driving our decision on our upcoming ChannelNEXT20 conference, scheduled to STILL happen on April 20-21.

    As the situation unfolds in the coming weeks, we will adjust accordingly…

    1. Our upcoming event date (April 20-21) is still far enough in the future that the possibility of the situation getting under control by then could improve. We are not too concerned yet, but we are preparing for either outcome.
    2. Our event is regional so all attendees will most likely be driving to it instead of taking public transport like planes. As such travel problems will not affect the vast majority of attendees.
    3. The location of event is far enough away from large city populations and the wider area is still in a “green” zone. So far very few infections have been reported. With prudent controls that are currently being practiced, authorities should be able to keep a lid on the spread in the region.
    4. Canada is very well prepared for this sort of health problem and has been on the ball early on. With its past experience of dealing with SARS, Canada is seen as the global leader in managing these sorts of health risks. We are confident in our health system.
    5. The gathering size of the event is small. Smaller regional events will certainly be less risky than any large international gatherings. Actually we believe that smaller regional events will be the future of channel conferences for many reasons beyond health risks. Instead of hosting one large event and flying everyone in, we host several regional events across the country. We literally take the event to the local audience. We know that smaller events can deliver a better VIP experience and value to attendees.
    6. Many onsite precautions will be in place to reduce transmission risks to protect everyone beyond the usual hand sanitizers. Hotel staff and resort will also need to demonstrate special care to reduce risks. Of course, we recommend anyone who feels any sickness to stay home.
    7. We already have a virtual option for vendors to present to the attendees. We also have a virtual option for VARs and MSPs to do Mastermind peer-group sessions from anywhere with the coaches (actually, this virtual option was already in place since last year, but people still preferred to meet face to face. Moving forward, this may change).

    We will continue to monitor the situation. If we have to postpone, all vendors and attendees will be able to carry forward their investment with us to any future event or activity we do. Another great benefit of dealing with TechnoPlanet is we offer a lot more than just events.

    I have been talking to a lot of channel execs and partners over the past few weeks. I am currently working on a new article called “Plan B” on what vendors and channel partners should be doing now to keep up business growth during the Coronavirus situation. Watch for it in a couple days!