The Coronavirus Claims Another Conference: PTC’s LiveWorx
Roopinder Tara posted on March 19, 2020 |
Annual user meeting and conference will be ‘reimagined’ as a virtual event.

Break on me, PTC. LiveWorx, PTC’s big party/user meeting/conference, which this year signed country legend Keith Urban for its closing party, will now only be an online event. It is not known if Keith Urban will be heard from. (Picture courtesy of PTC.)

The bad news for the thousands of PTC software users hoping to attend their annual user meeting/conference/party, LiveWorx in Boston, is that PTC has cancelled the physical event.

The good news is LiveWorx will still be live. PTC will transform as much of the event as it can to an online event. And it will be free. And you will get most, if not all, of your money back. Users who paid as much as $1299 for the “Delux” pass, plus additional fees for training courses, will get every dollar back. Exhibitors will get their charges reversed—unless they want charges to apply to LiveWorx 2021, May of next year in Boston. Hotels will be giving full refunds, too. Your airline ticket? You have to check with your airline as each has a different policy.  See PTC’s announcement here for all the details, which includes FAQs. 

We have yet to see anyone pull off a successful online transformation of an industry conference or trade show. The popularity of big tradeshows waned as the Web waxed in the 1990s and this trend continues to modern times. The virtual conference was invented by event organizers who sought to hang on to a dying business. The virtual conference had one big benefit: no travel. It also had one big disadvantage: no travel. What the event organizers were selling as an advantage was stealing from users their once annual chance to travel on the company dime. When that disappeared, so did their interest in what they were travelling to see.

But, clearly, everything has changes. Users have to be concerned now about how the risk of COVID-19 increases in a big gathering. The initial coronavirus outbreak in Boston is blamed on a Biogen company leadership meeting with only 175 employees. LiveWorx has over 4,000 attendees and this year was to be its biggest. Country legend Keith Urban was going to play at the closing party. Also at risk are the family, friends and coworkers that users are coming back to. The virus has taken the fun out of travel and, in its place, left only worry. 

This is the biggest CAD event that had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus so far. It follows a string of cancellations of tradeshows that started with the massive MWC in Barcelona and continued with the even more massive Austin’s South by Southwest, NVIDIA’s GTC, and several others. The cancellations are picking up speed. This week, the architects of AIA cancelled their annual convention and SME cancelled a couple (AeroDef and Rapid + TCT).

Given the current level of worry about gatherings, we don’t expect any show, event or conference in March or April to continue. Even if the event organizers remain hopeful, accepting registrations on the event websites, the pressure to cancel is mounting. If they don’t take the initiative to cancel it, their host city will, which is what happened when the city of Austin surprised Southwest by Southwest organizers by shutting it down.

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