In BC (before COVID) times, when you joined an overseas conference, you had to take a lot into account. Making reservations, taking time to travel, time for the conference, exchanging currencies, making sure your own work at home has nothing left marked ‘urgent’, making sure people won’t contact you for something that ‘won’t take long’, et cetera et cetera. And this doesn’t even take into consideration the secondary things like adjusting to time zones—especially when you cross the Pacific—or catching up on paperwork that piled up on your desk while you were gone.
Since Japanese universities start their academic year in April, there is a lot to do until the end of June, and the AIR Forum is usually held right in the middle of that crunch time in May/June. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to participate at an AIR Forum, and when I returned from the overseas trip, I experienced first-hand that ‘catching up on paperwork’ part mentioned earlier, which was more than I anticipated. This was one of the main reasons why I usually skipped one of the biggest events in the IR calendar.
But in DC (during COVID) times nowadays, most of those problems are gone. We are used to working from home, communicating with colleagues online, and attending these big events that have also moved to the virtual space. For the second time, the 2021 AIR Forum was held virtually from 25–28 May, and more than 1200 participants joined the online forum.