When do you think we will be able to travel again to conferences?

Hey, Everyone,

I read this piece about vacation travel:

From it:

“The lockdown is probably as strict as it’s ever been, particularly in the Europe, US and so on,” says Chris Goater, head of corporate communications at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global aviation trade body. “We’re hopeful that there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” although “we do expect long-haul to be the last thing to recover.”

I am curious, when do you think we will be able to get back to tech conferences?

My prediction:

I suspect here in the US we will see domestic travel happening more after May. I suspect international travel will occur closer to the end of the year.

What do you think?

Informal polls of colleagues around the globe tend to think they won’t be able to get vaccinated until late summer or the fall. Given that most conferences are mutli-national, I don’t see them making a big come back until next year.

There is also a comfort factor. Before I go into a crowded Las Vegas convention center, I want to know that the majority of attendees are vaccinated, even if I already am. So we have to wait until a good majority of the world is immune first.

Heck at this point, I’m just hoping I can go on vacation in the fall and not have to wear a mask all the time but I’m not that optimistic yet.

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I agree that the big cloud conferences will take longer to come back online, simply due to their size and logistics, but I’ll bet we see a proliferation of smaller events later this summer that are easier to spin-up. There’s a bit of irony in there.

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I’ve already heard from my team that they have NO desire to attend any in person events this summer (ie Re:Inforce). So that tells me all I need to know. :grinning:

And to be honest, getting a break from Vegas is nice. Although kinda missing it now.

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I bet my money right there as well, @ForkYoRepo.

Well… I don’t miss it at all hahaha. I miss meeting my peers in these kinds of events, though.

Great point, @marykay25!

I think this is going to be a key factor. While many people are getting vaccinated, the rise of the variants I think is still going to generate uncertainty in people.

For example, here in the US the British variant is likely to be the dominant strain the next month. Now, some of the vaccines seem to have a good immune response, which is great. The other variants (e.g. Brazil, South Africa), the science isn’t quite there yet to determine vaccine efficacy.

When we open up international travel it will cause a big question for the potential of variants spreading more rapidly globally.

I think this is going to put conferences in a tough position: do you require vaccinated staff and attendees? There are all kinds of legal and ethical questions around that. :slight_smile:

@jonobacon, I’m curious about what you think is going to happen to small/local meetups. Are they going to return only whenever big tech conferences return as well?

Great question! :slight_smile:

I am not entirely sure. I suspect local meetups will start to happen fairly soon and they will evaluate base on the level of local community spread. Also, most meetups will attract a local audience, so they are likely to be safer for folks.

I also suspect that meetups will require social distancing and mask wearing for a while, just to double-check that everyone is safe.

The big question in my mind is when airports open up and vaccine availability is widespread. I am curious to see how events will deal with those who either don’t want to get vaccinated or are unable to due to health or other reasons.

As I say, this will be a bit of a logistical and ethical dilemma.

I am very much of the mind that conferences likely wont be happening in person during the 2021 conference season. With vaccine rollouts differing globally it just doesn’t seem feasible. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s after the first of the year before we start seeing in person conference plans.

But, along that same vein, I am SO EXCITED for when we can conference in person again. I’ve loved the flexibility of online conferences because it’s made some available to me that previously I wouldn’t have been able to attend in person, but the environment is certainly very different. A conference in person is a whole experience.

I have been lucky in that I have now received both vaccine doses so I’m just now planning to see my parents in person for the first time since December 2019. So once I’ve made it past those milestones I’ll probably have a keener eye on travel.

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@bnwoods, I’m so happy for you!! I’m also part of the lucky group and I also can, finally, see my folks again. I can’t wait for that moment!

Back to the original topic, I’ve seen some musical/events venues testing a “Covid Vaccine Passport” in order to get access to it, as you can see here. Do you think the same is going to be adopted by the tech conference industry? How do you feel about it?

I’m all for it really. Something like that or continuing to require masks (or both :joy:) would make me more comfortable with an in person event.

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I noticed KubeCon NA is still proceeding so far as in-person (KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America | Linux Foundation Events ) , although they sent out a survey asking if people preferred in-person or virtual, so we’ll see.

For me personally, I’m not planning on any international travel in 2021, but we’ll see how things go.

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Looks like AWS is considering in-person Re:Inforce. I’m also betting that they try to do RE:Invent in person this year. I assume it will be scaled back though.

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At least here in Texas, the mandate for mask usage in indoor spaces was lifted. Although ultimately the business owner has the power to require a mask, and most do, it’s really hard to enforce. I’m curious about how an event that requires mask usage would go.

But I bet we’ll see bigger events, like KubeCon or Re:inforce/invent happening in some shape or form, in person, by the end of the year.