One suggestion to reduce travel requirements (but retain in-person benefits) is to adopt hub conferencing where a main event is hosted somewhere, but simultaneous online participation is coordinated in many satellite locations. I’m wondering which approach would give the better user experience for those online participants:
A) a number of large national hubs (e.g. rail-accessible university lecture theatres); or
B) a much larger number of small, local round-table groups, each with a ‘Meeting Owl’ (etc) in the middle of the table?
This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot. I think a number of large equal-status hubs would be ideal in theory, but the logistics and practicalities (and costs) seem very daunting to me as an academic meeting organiser. It is much easier for me to see how we could put together smaller round-table hubs that make use of cheap or free university room bookings. These could either form the entire conference- a fully ‘distributed conference’ model- or could be add-ons to one large central hub – a ‘spoke-and-hub’ conference model. One big problem is how to properly incoporate social aspects, allowing people in different hubs to meet and get to know each other, so I’d be very keen to hear ideas or suggestions on how to do that.