Can the tech fair come back in 2021? – TechCrunch

Last year has been devastating for the conferencing industry. This is certainly an issue that we have faced here at TechCrunch, as we have been working to move our programming to a virtual environment. It is clear that each individual case calls for an individual solution, depending on geography, attendance and a variety of other factors.

The IFA was found to be bullish on the element in person. The Berlin Tech Fair was one of the few such events to take place with the fair in Europe. The organization hosted an in-person event in September, but at a significantly reduced pace.

“To be a bit poetic, usually at the end of summer there’s a special air in Berlin and you go out in the morning, you feel that air,” director Jens Heithecker told me of the event. from last year, which shrunk to around 170 exhibitors. from 2,300.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the organization plans to make a comeback this year, despite lingering concerns about COVID-19 and its variants. A press release announcing the show’s fall return is downright festive.

“As the world is on the verge of emerging from the pandemic, IFA Berlin is expected to unfold as a real, large-scale event from September 3-7, 2021,” the company writes. “Great interest from brands, manufacturers and retailers from all industrial sectors to exhibit, network and co-innovate locally in Berlin. “

The organization is highlighting some health and safety measures that are carried over from last year’s event. But while he’s not quite ready to talk about scale just yet, the organization is highlighting a number of new avenues for the conference.

“As always, ensuring the safety of our visitors and exhibitors is our top priority,” he said in a statement. “Of course, with all our precautions to ensure the good health of everyone, we don’t expect IFA Berlin 2021 to set new records. However, the trend is clear: IFA Berlin is ready for a comeback. on a large scale, to lead our industry again. ”

In Spain, the GSMA is still working on its messaging, as a number of large companies have already announced their intention to attend the show “virtually”.

The organizers offered TechCrunch the following statement:

We understand that it will not be possible for everyone to attend MWC Barcelona 2021, but we are delighted that exhibitors such as Verizon *, Orange and Kasperksy are delighted to join us in Barcelona. To ensure that everyone can enjoy the unique MWC experience, we have developed an industry-leading virtual events platform. In-person and virtual options are provided so that all friends of MWC Barcelona can attend and participate in a way that is convenient for them. We respect the decisions that have been made by some exhibitors and work with them to move their participation to the virtual platform.

[*Disclosure: Verizon owns TechCrunch]

Google, IBM, Nokia, Sony, Oracle and Ericsson have already announced that they will not be attending the show in person. Other big names are apparently undecided. It all recalls the preparation for last year’s event, which was finally canceled.

The need for these big events was questioned before the pandemic, but the shift to virtual events really brought the topic to the fore. It is true that an in-person event always has value for the material, in particular, but many have learned to adapt to a virtual environment. Even if the last CES taught us something, it is that there are still a lot of problems to be solved with the system, especially since it is a question of prioritizing the contents all efficiently routed through the same funnel. .

The willingness of people to attend these events is based on a wide range of factors. At the lowest level, there is a matter of personal comfort (I can’t be the only one who has a visceral reaction whenever they see crowded photos of past events). For many, it will be a shock to the system to suddenly attend a large indoor conference. There are factors such as vaccinations and how a particular region handles the pandemic (all of which can vary wildly over the course of several months).

As recently as today, the German Minister of Health sounded the red alert, calling on states to tighten restrictions. “We have known since last fall what happens when we do not act quickly,” Jens Spahn warned media.

There are many other factors, including the location of a potential attendee and their workplace’s willingness to approve the trip. Many companies have limited business travel to all but the most essential trips. Depending on what you do for a living, your definition of “essential” may vary. But with so much that can potentially change during this time, the smartest strategy for many is to plan to tackle things from a distance.

Earlier this week, the GSMA sent its own email to previous attendees titled “Why do you think MWC Barcelona 2021 will take place? The rating appears to be a direct response to stories of exhibitors opting for a virtual presence.

“Depending on when you read this, we will be around 12 weeks away from the opening of the doors of MWC21 in Barcelona,” wrote CEO John Hoffman. “To say that the past year has been disturbing is an understatement and my thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by COVID-19. I’m not only optimistic about the future, but I’m also excited to bring our ecosystem together at MWC21. We recognize that not everyone will be able to attend in person and this is good as we will be increasing our physical event with our virtual MWC program bringing you the content of the show. “

The cancellation of a one-year flagship show could have been totally devastating. For many of these organizers – and the local governments who depend on tourism money – two years may seem unthinkable. MWC’s virtual strategy in the first year of the pandemic was, understandably, insufficiently prepared.

Over a year later, however, the GSMA and organizations like it hopefully have stronger strategies in place. The point is that going virtual is not a one-off operation. For many businesses and people deeply impacted by the pandemic, this is what the future looks like.

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