• Bill Petrie

The Consequence of Meeting in Person

Some things can't be replicated virtually

As I stood up to write the brandivate blog this week (yes, I’m using a standing desk), I kept thinking back to the Promotions East show last week. Fret not; I won’t belabor the point of how the group at SAAGNY and the planning committee did a fantastic job reimagining what had become JAS – Just Another Show. However, as I continued to reflect on the week, it hit me that there was a natural consequence to meeting so many people in person. The consequence isn’t exposure to COVID, getting the flu, or even adding a few extra pounds when dining with people.

The natural consequence of meeting in person is the building of trust is accelerated.

Before I go any further, my above statement shouldn’t denigrate in any way, shape, or form the great virtual platforms and events that have done a truly remarkable job sustaining human contact in unprecedented times. As we navigate a rapidly evolving future, those platforms and events have a place – and an important one. Candidly, I love being able to pop into a meeting to chat with my business partner without driving for an hour or to share a beverage with a friend from another state.

However, there is a certain magic in meeting without the obstacles of screens, technological issues, video cameras, virtual backgrounds, and tinny microphones. Thinking about the time I spent in Atlantic City – and the people I spent that time with – made it evident to me that it was much easier to build rapport, camaraderie, and trust in person. On the show floor, as well as in the hallways, restaurants, and bars, people forged meaningful bonds that were accelerated because it was in person. In other words, the value of the event was as much about fostering relationships as it was about merchandise.

I can tell you firsthand that I was able to bond with people on a much deeper level – and in a much shorter time – than I ever could through a virtual meeting. Handshakes, hugs, and building memories that become inside jokes for years are experiences that simply can’t be replicated sitting behind a screen.

So, if you want to know why I’m so bullish on in-person events like Promotions East, ASI Orlando, PPAI Expo, PromoCruise by Promocations, and other events, here it is: the sheer amount of trust that’s built at those in-person experiences is what creates loyalty, forges deep bonds, and sets the table for business growth where everyone has a personal stake.

With Promotions East in the rearview mirror for 2022, I am already champing at the bit for PPAI Expo in 2023 – and I hope to (literally) see you there.

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