We start planning conferences ten months ahead of time. So when we chose the theme Brave New World for the 2020 ReForum, we had no idea how apt it would be. We were thinking about radical changes to recycling markets, widespread consensus on re-thinking single use plastics and new EPR programs starting soon, not global upheaval.
It turned out to be a Brave New World for the conference format as well. Navigated through a world with zero predictability, we first postponed the event until September. As things progressed, we began to doubt that things would be back to ‘normal’ by then and decided to try a virtual event. Definitely an adventure.
It’s not the same as an in-person event. Everyone involved missed the personal contact, the catching up over coffees, the getting to know new people and picking up ideas from other conference goers. The virtual event tried to add that aspect, and succeeded to an extent, but it’s never the same.
On the other hand, we were able to access speakers who wouldn’t otherwise have had the time to travel in and to reach participants from farther afield as well. Every session was recorded, so people normally frustrated by being unable to attend both concurrent sessions could now watch a recording and not miss out.
Overall, participation was good, slightly lower than our regular conferences, and the reviews were generally positive. It was indeed an adventure.