August 11, 2020 / Abby Roberts

4 Benefits of Hosting (and Attending) a Virtual Conference

Some organizations might have originally investigated virtual conferences as a replacement for conferences held at a physical location—but as the capabilities of virtual conferences come to rival their physical counterparts, wouldn’t it make sense to view these new arrangements in light of their own qualities? Virtual conferences, such as our upcoming PSX 2020, have their own distinct strengths, independent from their utility as a backup measure.

1. Lower costs

As mentioned in a prior blog post, registration for PSX 2020 costs significantly less than previous years, in large part to account for the Product Stewardship Society’s reduced expenses through an all-virtual format. Attending virtually is also a cost-effective means of networking and achieving professional development. During such an event, hosts don’t have to book a venue, busy keynote speakers can appear by video call, and attendees pay less to register.

2. Environmental sustainability

One of the principal goals of a product stewardship professionals work is managing the environmental impacts of products and materials throughout their entire life cycle. In fact, sustainability and reduced environmental harm are the subjects of many of this year’s PSX sessions.

Over 300 people attended PSX last year, which means more than 600 trips by airplane, car, and other means of transportation were required to get attendees, staff, sponsors, and equipment to and from the conference, regardless of other activities that caused environmental impact. In the future, organizations conscious of their environmental sustainability will expand their virtual offerings, as technological advancements make it easier than ever before to synchronize organization and professional values with logistic concerns.

3. Unique features of virtual platforms

Virtual conferences often offer features rivaling those of conferences held in person. Some virtual platforms offer customizable booths, with links available to connect attendees to helpful information, and text or video chatrooms where attendees can speak with vendors in a one-on-one environment. These platforms may also offer staff, speakers, and vendors the ability to have some fun with booths and presentations through the inclusion of memorable videos, images, poll questions, and trivia. Often, event hosts make virtual session recordings available soon after the conference ends, making it easy for attendees to refresh their memory or catch up on sessions they missed.

PSX 2020 will offer a virtual lobby, webcast auditorium, and exhibition hall, providing many chances for attendees to talk to each other, staff, and visitors in an easy-to-use virtual environment. Plus, all sessions from PSX will be available in the Society’s 2021 On Demand library, a free benefit for the Society’s Premium members.

4. Accessibility

Attendees of a virtual conference may hail from anywhere in the world and don’t have to leave their home to connect with each other. They are better able to schedule according to their time, transportation, childcare, and other logistical concerns. Staff and attendees with disabilities will not have to navigate an unfamiliar building that may not accommodate their needs. It is never difficult to find the right room or venue.

With PSX 2020 going virtual, all the tools someone might need to network with other professionals or develop skills are at your fingertips. You might still wish to attend a conference in person for your own reasons, but as technology advances, virtual experiences like PSX 2020 will complement live experiences on the strength of their own merits, rather than simply act as replacements.

About PSX 2020

PSX 2020, formerly known as the Product Stewardship Conference, will be held virtually from September 15–17, 2020. For more information about PSX 2020 and to register visit the conference website.

Abby Roberts

Abby Roberts is AIHA's editorial assistant.


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