The global Collision Conference, which took to Toronto for the first time last year, will no longer take place this year amid concerns about COVID-19, the coronavirus. Instead, it will adapt to take place virtually, in an online format.
Leveraging its own software, which is typically used to allow attendees to network, connect, and chat during and leading up to the event via apps, and provides talks live online, the show will rebrand as Collision from Home this year. The software has historically been used only for those who couldn't attend in person. For 2020, it will welcome all guests who can "attend" remotely.
"Though the software was originally built to enhance attendees' offline experience," says Collision in a prepared statement, "we believe we are in a good position to develop it to a point where we can host Collision from Home."
During Web Summit 2018," writes Paddy Cosgrace, founder and CEO of Collision,"we noticed some attendees who were not in Lisbon but were nevertheless using our web and mobile apps for networking, connecting and chatting with exhibitors and attendees. These attendees watched many of our talks and participated in workshops. And they did it all remotely."
Knowing that it won't be a perfect solution, Collision is offering all those who purchased tickets for the conference this year to automatically transfer the fees to the 2021 event, which is scheduled to return to Toronto. And for this year, anyone who already holds a ticket to Collision will be able to log in and "attend" for free. If they so prefer, ticket holders are also eligible for a refund instead of the ticket transfer, in line with the refund policy set out in the terms and conditions.
"We are confident we have all the necessary tools and technology to effectively execute Collision from Home and will later announce the exact structure of the conference."
The decision was made given the uncertainty facing public events around the world as COVID-19 continues to progress,and following discussions with the city of Toronto and the advice of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). The show organizers decided to act with caution given the international nature of the tech industry and size and scope of the conference. Collision typically attracts show-goers from almost every country in the world.
"While disappointed, we determined the time to make this decision was now, rather than closer to our June in-person event," says the company.
Toronto has been supportive of the decision and will host the event when it returns in person in 2021, when it will take place from June 21-24, 2021 at the Enercare Centre.
It's an interesting strategy to adapt to the times and could be a guinea pig of sorts to test the waters on how and if virtual conferences could take place in the future. As such a large show, however, attracting upwards of 30,000 attendees, it will be interesting to see if the software and connectivity would be able to support so many people trying to log into a live keynote or panel, for example, at the same time. Even Amazon has crashed, after all, on busy days like Prime Day.
But with the right set-up, Collision could still be a success as people watch from their homes and offices instead of sitting in crowded rooms within a massive venue.
Of course, nothing takes the place of face-to-face interaction and networking. But it's a bold and commendable move to ensure that show-goers are still able to access the valuable content from the show.
"Crises like COVID-19 demand responsibility and creativity," says Cosgrave. "We want to do our part and we hope others will too."
Several other tech shows have canceled in the wake of COVID-19 concerns, including Mobile World Congress, Munich High End 2020, and the Facebook Developer F8 conference. The Montreal audiofest, which typically attracts about 2,000 people, mainly from Canada, has confirmed that it will move ahead as planned for the end of March.