The coronavirus, now officially a pandemic, is leading to events being canceled or postponed well into the summer months because of travel and crowd risks, the latter being labeled “congregate settings,” in the official diction of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
But some businesses are finding an opportunity to go digital and not completely forfeit months of planning, only having to duke it out for dates and venues come fall.
Garnering 1,300 attendees last year at its Los Angeles Girlboss Rally event, the call to go digital — and make online streaming access entirely free for attendees — was one that made sense to Girlboss Media founder Sophia Amoruso during “unprecedented” times of change.
Even if it meant refunding tickets, which ranged from $375 to $725 each, Amoruso was ready to convince investors, sponsors and attendees, that the move was the right call.
As she told WWD over the phone: “We’ve never been a traditional media company.”
What was originally planned as a one-day event for April 25 in Los Angeles, the summit will instead be entirely live-streamed in April or May, although the exact date is still to be confirmed.
Amoruso said the decision to go digital wasn’t difficult to make and instead presented an “opportunity to be at the forefront.”
Within less than 24 hours since announcing the digital conference, she woke up to 13,000 RSVPs.
“Our partners are excited. Everyone’s business is changing,” she reiterated. Over the three years since its inception, the bi-coastal Girlboss Rally has seen A-list speakers and sponsorship from Google, Uber, BlackRock, Shopify, among others.
She hopes to make up for lost ticket revenue through increased sponsorship.
In New Jersey, the two-day Zero Waste Summit billed as the “the central hub of experts in supply chain, sustainability and resource optimization” occurring March 25 to 26, is also going somewhat digital. The event is offering remote interactive access to participants unable to travel due to restrictions, according to precautions from the CDC and the state.
With a year in planning, the annual Fair Trade Campaigns National Conference, which was to be held in Pasadena from March 20 to 22 has also opted for full digital access — a first for the organization.
“In light of the current situation with COVID-19, Fair Trade Campaigns is quickly pivoting to deliver its conference as its first, fully online virtual conference this year, to ensure the health and well-being of all speakers and attendees,” read the press statement.
“Finding other timing that would work for our audience posed significant challenges,” said William Linstead Goldsmith, director, Fair Trade Campaigns, to WWD. He said much of the registrants are students with free time because of their spring breaks, thus moving it was not an option.
Citing the added shareability and accessibility, it’s also “an opportunity to test a new mode of communication with our advocates,” in the words of Goldsmith.
Last year, the event saw 400 attendees. Goldsmith expects the conference to reach a similar number of virtual attendees.
Tickets ranged from $175 to $250, and all registrants will now have access to the virtual conference with the option for a partial refund to reflect the new ticket price at $75.
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