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How trucking has adapted to virtual events during the pandemic

Dec. 9, 2020
The industry has relied on conferences, conventions, seminars, and more to share information, learn new technologies and build relationships. With COVID-19, we’ve had to adjust how we learn and stay connected.

If you had told me at the beginning of 2020 that I would not be able to attend trucking industry related events for 12 months, I would not have believed you. And then came COVID-19, and life as we knew it changed for everyone.

The trucking industry has relied on conferences, conventions, meetings, seminars, etc. to share information, train folks on new and existing technology as well as strengthen current relationships and build new ones. However, since late March we have been unable to gather as we are doing our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

When the stay-at-home orders were initially put in place, many trucking industry events were simply canceled as event organizers did not have enough time to pivot and develop a new plan. But not too long afterwards we saw live events switch to virtual ones with the help of technology that allowed for virtual meetings. And I have to say I have been very impressed with the robustness of the content of those meetings. The caliber of speakers has been on par with what we have become accustomed to at live events and they provided insightful commentary on a wide range of topics.

While I certainly miss the live events and networking in person, it occurred to me that I have probably been more focused on the meetings and their content in the virtual world. I am sure that many of you are like me and have found yourself involved in very interesting discussions during event breaks that somehow ended up extending past the time when the break ended. How many times have you failed to make it back to a meeting because you were so engrossed in a conversation with a supplier, fleet manager, OEM representative, industry consultant, etc.? I am ashamed to admit the number of times that has happened to me.

These virtual meetings have allowed me to really focus on the content and I feel like I have gained a lot of new knowledge as a result of attending them. NACFE staff members have made a concerted effort to attend as many of these meetings as possible to both keep up to date but also to show our support of the trucking industry. One of our leaders shared he has even attended three events – simultaneously!

Don’t get me wrong, I can't wait to be on the road again meeting with people face to face and maybe even letting a conversation during a break keep me from getting back to a session. But I think the trucking industry needs to be commended for the creative, innovative ways it has made sure that important information is getting shared even as we are keeping our distance from each other.

Hope to actually see many of you sometime in 2021 – but only when we are sure it is safe.

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

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