TL;DR: Due to COVID-19 we have decided to postpone the Running Remote live conference until 2021. Instead, we are going all-in on virtual conferences until the end of the year.
March 11, 2020.
It’s the day the world changed. It’s one of those days that I’ll always remember where I was.
In the U.S., COVID-19 had been a looming threat. I was aware of the devastation it was causing across the globe.
But on March 11, 2020, it got real for me.
I was at a friend’s house playing poker when the news came in that the NBA had canceled its season.
Minutes later, the president declared a state of emergency.
And minutes after that, word came down that Tom Hanks had been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.
As an event startup, this was a bit of a tenuous time for us. We had a conference scheduled for April, and at the time, we weren’t sure if we should cancel it.
Looking back, the decision to cancel was an easy one. But we were faced with some lost money and a lot of lost time.
Canceling was the last thing we wanted to do.
We decided to postpone the event until September. But we’ve come to learn that “You don’t make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline.”
Event Outlook for 2020
One week ago, one of our keynote speakers for our September event canceled.
His company (Citrix) had imposed more stringent employee travel restrictions for the remainder of 2020.
Once again, it appeared as though we were going to have to make another tough decision.
Looking around the country, a growing number of large-scale events that were scheduled for autumn are getting postponed until next year.
From the UN Climate Change Conference to the Miss World beauty pageant, it seems like at least one large-scale event is postponed every couple of hours.
The state of live events for the rest of 2020 does not look good.
Even with one speaker canceling, we are certain we could still put together an amazing conference and assemble an awesome lineup of speakers.
But we aren’t sure we will be able to have a room full of people to make this a valuable experience.
After all, 50% of our attendees come for networking, not for content.
So, instead of doing a half-full conference, we have decided to focus all of our attention during this time of uncertainty on becoming experts at virtual conferencing.
A Successful Virtual Event Test Run: RemoteAID
RemoteAID, our first online conference which we held in April, was born during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is a time when thousands of companies have needed to move from offices and go remote. Managers and business owners are trying to learn how to manage remote employees in real time.
RemoteAID was designed to help people learn the ins and outs of remote work from the most successful remote-first entrepreneurs in the world.
This free charity event took place on April 20, with donations collected for the Red Cross. With 2000 attendees and 30 sponsors, the event was a huge success.
RemoteAID has opened a whole new uncharted territory full of tremendous opportunities for our community.
We are keen on exploring and educating more people about remote work through our online events, in addition to live conferences.
We want to use this time to train ourselves so that in the long run, we can maintain the engagement of the community between our live events in 2021.
Eventually, Running Remote is going to be a hybrid event – both online and offline at the same time.
The Advantages of Being a Hybrid Event Company
What are the advantages of virtual events?
- Lower barriers for participation.
- Easier to connect with a specific person (by searching for their name). People can easily find each other and send a direct message, rather than searching through the crowd.
- Less logistics, fewer set-up costs, and less prep time for sponsors.
- A higher number of attendees. (RROnline is also a free event.)
- Fewer distractions.
- Thorough analytics for sponsors and networking reports for attendees.
- Online speed-networking: Meet others for timed 10-minute video conversations. (45 video chats was the record achieved by one attendee.)
- It’s possible to be in two rooms/places at once, unlike at a live event.
- You can post supporting links during the sessions, which isn’t possible at a live event.
- Session recordings are available much faster than editing footage from various cameras at a live conference.
- Sponsored video pre-rolls and link clicks can be more effective than during a live event since people are focused on the screen.
As an event focused on building and scaling remote teams, virtual conferences completely align with our audience.
We want to showcase the possibilities of connecting with others online, without commuting. According to Bizzabo, 98% of the people surveyed believe that live events are irreplaceable.
We agree with that, which is why we are not replacing our live events, but we are adding another dimension to them.
The Future Is Hybrid
With the world becoming increasingly digital over the past few months by the pandemic, online events have arrived and they are here to stay.
We relish the opportunity to find new ways to help business owners and executives learn the best practices of remote work.
This is why we are announcing four virtual conferences between now and the end of 2020 approximately one every two months.
We believe that the Running Remote community has to live online and meet in-person one or two times per year.
The remote work community is growing at a rapid pace. The four virtual events that we’ll be hosting this year will give both us and our speakers, the chance to teach the community everything we know about scaling remote teams.
Virtual events will be a great way to sustain this community between our live events. So, we are going to dedicate the rest of 2020 to building our online muscle.
Once 2021 arrives and COVID-19 is behind us, it will get even more exciting. We would like to bring our online community as close as possible to the live event.
And we will also bring our vision of a hybrid event company closer to reality.