On-line conferencing – you can’t beat the real thing

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SAN ANTONIO (Chemicals Confidential)–When times are hard and travel budgets are cut, conferences struggle to get the delegates. So consultant Dewitts moved its pre-NPRA Houston conference online, and our own Peter Taffe switched his booking from “the top boutique hotel in the US” to listening to the conference papers online.

What was it like, and could it compare to attending a real live conference? Well the simple answer is no.
“Dewitts see it as one-off. It might be the sort of thing we need to do at the moment, but you can’t beat the real thing,” Peter told me in the ICIS suite at NPRA today, after taking days to wrestle with the presentations from the comfort of his own desk in London. 

“The conference slides were hosted on the DeWitt web site and you are given a password to enter and listen to the papers in your own time. There was no live question and answer session but you were encouraged to contact the speakers.”

“A positive was that you could listen to the papers without the cost of travelling, but downloading all the slides was not easy.”

“A big problem I found with an on-line presentation is that you get disturbed at your desk by people coming to talk to you or the phone ringing. If you attend a conference, then you can give the papers your undivided attention.”

So it looks as if there’s still some mileage left in the old conference format of travel and face-to-face networking.

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