A meeting of minds has always mattered. Universities, for example, are primarily places where this occurs, as we reach back into history to recover the genius of the past to consider options for the future.; where students encounter fellow students and wiser professors who aid them in their quest to become better citizens and people.
Even professionals use this same method to focus on the future, convening in central geographic locations to hash out the problems they – and sometimes we – are having.
There are, thankfully, important economic gains in two ways, from such meetings.
In the first sense, meetings are often about improving the economy in some way. This can be either about making business better for the company involved, improving social causes such as poverty, combatting sexist attitudes in the workplace, etc. All these have positive impact on economy: for example, more women in business correlates with a better business; poverty reduction is obviously better.
These can be aided by conventions, since people are forced into a single area to focus on a single topic. This is beneficial since you’re “forced” into not being distracted by a zillion other things.
Second, big conventions improve the economy more directly. For example, Cape Town conference venues brought in a lot of money to the country and to the province. To take one popular example, the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) contributed R2.99 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP), as well as R1.05 billion to the Western Cape economy. This has ripple effects: more jobs were created, more tourists attended (families of international participants, for example), hotels were used and so on. This means more can be done to help environmentally important areas, since conventions would only make sense to take place in safe, eco-friendly places – not ones detrimental to environment.
In today’s digital age, one would think that less geographical engagements were necessary. Yet, as indicated, geography can be an aid more so than, say, Skype conference calls and instant emails. Meeting potential clients and colleagues face-to-face is always better than faceless emails; and, even Skype isn’t a way to actually meet new people so much as maintain relationships with current ones. Usually, we can exchange pleasantries before engaging but Skype and online interactions make that slightly difficult. This doesn’t mean we should never Skype and so on, only we should let it mean the death of conferences. Of course, travel always has costs to the environment, but in the long-run, if travel is going to occur anyway, let us make sure it is actually toward something beneficial.
Add to that fact, as we’ve seen, what conferences can do for countries and cities, and we have added incentive to do better conferences – not less. We should allow plenty of internet access, for those attending and those who wished they attended but were unable to.
Conferences venues matter because conferences matter and it’s good to know they can add in tangible ways to the world.
Image Credit: CTICC Homepage