In-person events in 2020 were ostensibly canceled, leaving in their wake shadowy virtual versions of their IRL former selves—and everyone’s lanyard collection ephemerally frozen like some sort of “Being John Malkovich” LinkedIn time capsule.
Those who have done the industry “circuit”—traveling to the bounds of their sanity to learn, experience, absorb, thought lead, thought follow, network and celebrate—know the drill all too well: It starts in Vegas every January with CES, then meanders through the rest of the year with stops in Austin for SXSW, Cannes in June—and ending up at sunrise, wearing Mickey Mouse ears, face down in a sand trap on the 16th hole at the majestic Rosen Shingle Creek hotel in Orlando (there’s a golf course there, right? We wouldn’t know).
Before the pandemic, it became kind of a cliché for road-warrior veterans to bemoan going to industry events—at times directly in front of those that would work overtime just for the opportunity to go. And now, well, the notion of high-fiving that long-lost buddy you haven’t seen since the same time last year when boarding a Delta red-eye seems like a distant memory.
Alas, those that have been known to bellyache over the prospect of padding their Diamond Medallion status would likely give up all their miles to fly standby on a single-engine Cessna with four eight-hour layovers—as soon as the population is inoculated.
But as we stare dead-eyed at yet another virtual slate of events while we juggle the trappings of our WFH-WiFi-ring-light-dystopia—and the promise of a COVID-19 vaccine—what remains to be seen is: When can we high-five again?
Time will tell, but as a grizzled vet, our best guess is that Cannes Lions 2022 is going to be cathartic—and that the Carlton terrace will literally start selling bathtubs of rosé.
(Oh, and you should probably book your apartment NOW.)