In pre-COVID times, business events – from small academic conferences to giant trade shows like CES – routinely attracted more than 1 billion participants each year. The pandemic brought those global gatherings to a sudden halt, emptying convention centers and shuttering hotels.
More than a year later, in-person meetings are on the rebound. In late August, 30,000 masked attendees gathered in Las Vegas for ASD Market Week, a retail trade show. In Chicago, the Black Women’s Expo recently held the largest event in its history, with 432 vendors and thousands of masked attendees.
“People are cautious, but they’re glad to be able to get out and network with other people,” said Dr. Barbara Hall, whose company, JBlendz Communications, was among the exhibitors at the expo.
Still, it could be several years – if ever – before conferences attract the crowds they did before the pandemic. Many countries and businesses are still restricting travel,…