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The future of events: Deliver an experience, or go online

A look at how’s Introduced conference will be different May 12, and our bet on how the pandemic has changed events.

Reading Terminal Market, home to the #PTW18 Signature Event. (Courtesy photo)

Written by Technically Media CEO Chris Wink,’s Culture Builder newsletter features tips on growing powerful teams and dynamic workplaces. Below is the latest edition we published. Sign up to get the next one.

A big-shot corporate event strategist told me the future of events is very simple: We’ll travel for events that can only take place in person. Otherwise, get it done better online.

It’s a lot like the future of retail: Deliver an experience or let ecommerce handle it.

That bodes well for the biggest events — and biggest retailers, yes. That also can mean smaller-scale and local events can thrive too, just like how you might travel to a charming string of small shops in a neighborhood. Whatever you do, focus on the experience.

This is top of mind for me, as brings back a very different version of our conference Introduced, a day focused on building better companies for culture builders like you to be held in person May 12. The IRL component will be held in Philadelphia during the 12th annual Philly Tech Week presented by Comcast, alongside dozens of other events including the Developers Conference. I want you to attend the event; I also want to share why we’re hosting the conference the way we are.

Register for Introduced

Confronting COVID-19 social distancing, virtual events skyrocketed. No surprise many were of low-quality. It was too seismic a shift reflecting too many priorities for anything other than to be true. We at are pretty experienced at producing events, yet the events we produced were a real mixed bag of quality. It quickly became clear that Zoom fatigue was prevalent not because the tool was inherently bad, but because we were being forced to overuse the tool due to a pandemic.

Like work, virtual events are best for their efficiency. In-person events are best for their serendipity. That’s where the experience comes in.

Back in spring 2019, we had 500 people at our last in-person Introduced conference. Lots of people sat quietly in conference rooms while they listened politely to experts talk about trends and best practices in company building and operations. Afterward, they’d gather in small groups to ask the experts followups. The other magical moments were when the still-new Flyers mascot Gritty made a surprise appearance, and where attendees self-organized conversations over lunch. In short, the pure content delivery of professional development was important but not anywhere near as special as the small-group activities.

Those memories deeply inform our first step back for in-person events.

The in-person component of Introduced on May 12 will be entirely made of interactive small-group sessions, including topic-based breakouts and facilitated “hot seat” discussions so attendees can dig into their specific programs. That day will follow pre-recorded discussions that attendees can choose to watch when and where they will. We’ll then invite all attendees to continue the conversation on’s Slack.

To add to the experience, we’ve combined Introduced with our legendary Signature Event, a networking reception filled with locally-built, interactive technology. This year it will take place at the Cira Green, a rooftop park with a view of the Philadelphia skyline.

Come for the small group discussions; stay for the rooftop party with interactive technology, drinks and food. That’s the kind of experience that can only take in-person.

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