It could take a while before the handshake comes back, if it ever does. Business conferences, however, are set to restart in the U.S. the moment health code allows. And despite uncertainty around when exactly that will be, convention organizers are holding out hope -- and event space -- for a possible return in the coming weeks. From a report: One of those optimists is Peter Diamandis. He convened some of his employees at their office in Culver City, California, last Wednesday for a low-key, in-person holiday gathering. There, Diamandis said his flagship annual conference, Abundance 360, was still on for late January in Malibu, California, according to a person familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified. It will feature seminars on technology and entrepreneurialism, as well as a video address from Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff. Diamandis said last week that the company was taking precautions to hold the event safely. Anyone attending in person would have to take a nose-swab test 72 hours before arrival and each day during the conference itself. He was closely tracking infection rates and regulatory guidance, he said. "Many of our members definitely want to get together in person (if possible)," he wrote in an email to Bloomberg.
One day later, though, Diamandis changed his mind. The company canceled the in-person program for most people scheduled to attend Abundance 360, according to a message to staff reviewed by Bloomberg. The summit will be limited to about 16 people who paid $30,000 for special events and coaching, internal documents show. (Although that, too, could be cancelled depending on the health situation, Diamandis wrote in an email to Bloomberg.) Everyone else will get access to online programs. Of the many important things lost this year, conferences are pretty far down the list. But for the organizations that put on the events, the coronavirus pandemic has severely altered their operations. Cancellations in the U.S. this year will cost as much as $22 billion, according to estimates from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, a trade group. Most conferences are sticking to online-only through early next year, including CES, the largest technology industry conference typically held in January, or are postponing until the second half of the year, said Heather Keenan, president of Key Events, a meeting and events-planning firm. Some are exploring hybrid events with the choice of online or in person starting in May, she said.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.