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Editor’s note-This feature highlights what are currently scheduled as virtual events in 2021. For an overview of 2021 in-person events, see this issue’s Datebook page.

Industry events, conferences and exhibitions have not been immune from COVID-19, as witnessed by the number of gatherings canceled due to global travel restrictions and social distancing measures.  

However, many event organizers looked to digital solutions, quickly pivoting away from in-person and toward virtual events to keep the momentum going from their previous well-attended shows and conferences. According to Eventbrite, a global self-service ticketing platform, business and professional online events increased 1,100 percent when comparing April 2020 with April 2019.

Indeed, some believe virtual conferences and exhibitions will be the “new normal,” although in-person events are not going away altogether (see our Datebook page), and combo platters that allow participants to attend in the flesh or over the internet are also being served.

Organizers and trade associations need not consider all-virtual events as lacking. “When done right, virtual events offer a personalized branded experience, are highly cost-effective and enhance the audience reach of an organization,” reads a press release from W7Worldwide, a Saudi Arabian marketing communication agency that focuses on the supply chain industry. “. . . Transitioning from physical to digital can be a difficult choice, but unlike live events, virtual events allow you to accommodate audiences who otherwise would not have been able to attend due to budget or travel limitations.”


W7Worldwide director and co-founder Abdulrahman Inayat extends the notion further when he says, “The value of face-to-face interaction will never go away, but in the current times going virtual must be a necessary part of your event program.”

He continues: “Thanks to today’s technology, major industry events, conferences and exhibitions can continue to take place by pivoting to a virtual format. Treat your virtual event with the same thought and strategy that you apply to live events. While the means for achieving your goals may be different virtually, if you lead with strong content, facilitate engagement, and keep your audience in mind, you cannot go wrong.”

Putting those words into action, W7Worldwide released a guide with “the seven key steps to creating a successful virtual event in the COVID-19 era and beyond.” Read the full report here.

What follows are virtual events that are aimed at Global Trade Magazine’s audience and are scheduled throughout 2021.

IMTS Spark

Now through March 15

One of the manufacturing industry’s most anticipated events, the International Manufacturing Technology Show, has, because of the COVID crisis, gone from being an in-person event to becoming an ongoing, fully virtual showcase of leaders in manufacturing technology. 

Midwest Association of Rail Shippers Annual Winter Meeting 

January 20 

The typical MARS Winter Meeting would draw more than 800, in-person attendees, but these are obviously not typical times, according to the association’s president, Stefan Loeb. “Our highest priority is the health and safety of our members, so MARS decided that hosting a virtual Winter Meeting was the safest and most prudent choice. A concentrated meeting with an all-star agenda provides the best opportunity for creating value for our membership in these unprecedented times.” The half-day meeting’s “all-stars” include: Keith Creel, president and CEO, Canadian Pacific; Kathryn Farmer, president and CEO of BNSF; and Paul Titterton, senior vice president and COO of North American rail with GATX Corporation.

Temperature Control & Logistics Forum 

January 26-28

Presented 100 percent online for the first time, the forum includes a day of pre-qualified meetings and two days of thought-provoking keynotes, case studies and panel discussions.

Evolve: The Next Generation of Oil & Gas

January 27-28

Digital Wildcatters and Freightwaves present this one-of-a-kind virtual event for oil and gas professionals. Cutting-edge technologies, innovative startups and disruptive strategies will be discussed by some of the industry’s brightest minds. Despite being online-only, the event will include multiple opportunities to network with industry peers.  

International Conference on Supply Chain Management and Logistics

February 1-2

The digital program features scientists, academics and industry pros discussing the most recent innovations, trends and concerns as well as practical challenges encountered and solutions adopted in SCM and logistics.

Global Supply Chain Week

February 22-March 3

During this full week of supply chain insights, you’ll hear from different sectors of the supply chain universe: automotive; food and perishables; retail; manufacturing; consumer packaged goods and more. 

Omnitracs Outlook 2021 Virtual User Conference

February 23-24

“Redesigned with you in mind,” Omnitracs’ fifth annual user conference is expected to draw more than 900 professionals in transportation and fleet management. Thought-provoking sessions, great networking opportunities and exciting entertainment can be accessed from the comfort of your office or home.

GreenTech in Shipping Global Forum

February 24-25

Green technologies, green ports, green fuels and much more (green) are covered at the forum that comes direct from Hamburg, Germany.

Logistics 21

February 25-27

The New Delhi, India, exhibition on logistics solutions is usually in-person, but the global pandemic has the supply chain management-focused event going virtual this time. Emphasis is placed on the industry’s direct impact on the efficiency of the business in India as well as newer technologies that cut costs and/or boost efficiency.


February 25-March 5

The world’s largest container shipping gathering, the Transpacific Maritime Conference will explore COVID-19’s unprecedented impact on logistics and supply chains. With the theme “Redefining the Future,” TPM21 will include more than 70, in-depth sessions exploring how the future will be different and how you can be prepared.

Intermodal Summit

March TBA 

After the chaos of 2020, find out what will rail and intermodal players will find this year. Here is a hint of what shippers, intermediaries and rail-reliant organizations may find if their reps attend this virtual event: Opportunities for success in 2021 and beyond.

2021 3PL Summit

March TBA

After two to three years of relative calm in the freight brokerage markets, 2020 took a hard turn. This virtual summit highlights the best technology and practices to guide you to success this year. Discussions on multi-modal optimization, customer relations, sales insights, market insights, pricing strategies and much more are delivered by industry leaders and innovators.

SCOPE Virtual Supply Chain Summit

March 1-5

We’ve hosted hundreds of in-person summits, brought together countless executives, facilitated tens of thousands of news partnerships and transformed the supply-chain landscape. Now, we’re doing it all online.”

LOA Symposium

March 30-April 2

The Logistics Officer Association Symposium is dedicated to enabling interactive exchanges among logistics, acquisition and technology professionals from across the Department of Defense, defense industry and academia. For 2021, there will be a continued focus on Leadership, Innovation, Velocity, Excellence (L.I.V.E.) with the theme of the symposium being “Under Attack: Agile Logistics for the Future Fight.”

DroneWaves Summit

April TBA

What role will drones play in the supply chains of the future and how will you prepare? Learn the answer from drone manufacturers, shippers and more that are utilizing these devices to completely revolutionize transportation at the first and last miles of supply chains. 

Enterprise Fleet Summit

April TBA

It’s a virtual examination of the components of a successful enterprise fleet. Solving the puzzle will include a look back at the most successful strategies that were used to manage the 2020 volatility. But attendees will also look forward at what the enterprise fleet landscape will look like in the future.


April 12-16

For the first time in ProMat’s 35-year history, the annual event in Chicago was canceled. “However, because supply chains are more vital to global commerce than ever before,” report the organizers, “ProMat will continue to deliver the unrivaled solution-sourcing, education and networking it is known for through a state-of-the-art digital expo–ProMat Digital Experience (ProMatDX).” Industry professionals will come together to find manufacturing and supply chain solutions, problem-solve, connect with peers and learn the latest trends and innovations.

GreenTech in Shipping USA Virtual Forum

April 20-21, 2021

This conference feature topics such as environmental regulations and sustainable development, ports and green technologies, future fuels, engineering solutions for better efficiency, repair, retrofit, and ship modifications, ballast water treatment solutions and more.

2021 JRC 

April 20-21 

The international Joint Rail Conference is considered intermodal’s premier technical event in the U.S. as it includes all disciplines for freight and passenger rail transportation: mechanical, electrical, civil and systems engineering as well as rail safety, planning, design, manufacturing, financing, operations and management.

International Conference on Logistics and Supply Chain

April 22-23

The most recent innovations, trends, and concerns—as well as practical challenges encountered and solutions adopted in the logistics and supply chain fields—are discussed by academics, researchers, and industry professionals. 

International Conference on Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management

April 22-23

Leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of procurement, logistics, and supply chain management during this digital event. 

FreightWaves LIVE @Home: A Virtual Experience


Listen to pioneering entrepreneurs who can see opportunity on the horizon. Watch transportation and supply chain gurus dive into the lessons learned over successful careers. It’s billed as “the place to be for anyone looking to grow their career and their impact in the world of supply chains, logistics and transportation.”

World Class Supply Chain Summit

May 5

CN and Laurier, in partnership with the Milton Chamber of Commerce, had planned a fifth annual, in-person summit in Milton, Ontario, Canada, with the theme “Vision 2030: SCM for a new decade.” Though it will now be a virtual summit, the agenda remains the same: Leading academics, speakers and panelists provide their insights on supply chain and logistics–in Canada and throughout the world.

PS V-Forum

May 31-June 1

The Pharma Supply Chain & Logistics V (as in virtual) Forum had, in its in-person form, been one of the leading conferences focusing on covering all the aspects of the supply chain and logistics and their integration with AI and blockchain. The online version aims to be the same thanks to another impressive lineup of industry leaders and one-on-one interactions.

Owner-operator Summit

June TBA

In addition to being drivers—and the backbone of the logistics and supply chain industry because they keep shelves stocked across the country—truck owner-operators are also business owners who must manage their books day-in and day-out. This one-day virtual summit is designed to provide them with the knowledge and insights to improve operations. 

Logistics and Warehouses-A New Consumer Avatar?

June 10

Over the next few years, the share of warehouses in the total investment in real estate in Russia is expected to grow. It’s a segment that has shown itself to be stable and reliable for investors, in contrast to offices and retail, which were more affected by the pandemic. Learn what the expectations are of market participants, the opportunities that might appear and more at this virtual meeting of the leaders of the real estate market.

ProPak Asia

June 16-19

Virtual and at BITEC in Bangkok, Thailand

The 29th International Processing and Packaging Exhibition for Asia is actually a “hybrid” event that can be attended in-person or virtually. ProPak Asia is the region’s top international trade event for food, drink and pharmaceutical processing and packaging technology, and it also includes the: 20th International Beverage & Brewing Processing & Packaging Technology Exhibition; 28th International Pharmaceutical & Cosmetics Processing & Packaging Technology Exhibition; 15th International Laboratory Equipment, Instrument, Test & Measurement and Quality Control Exhibition; 10th International Coding, Marking & Labelling Technology Exhibition; 9th International Packaging Materials Exhibitions; and 5th International Coldchain, Logistics, Warehousing & Factory Technology Exhibition.

IANA Intermodal Expo

EXPO: The Business of Intermodal is Here

September 12-14, Long Beach, California

This event will take place in person on September 12-14, 2021 at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center with the theme “The Business of Intermodal is Here.” Educational webinars, virtual panel discussions, market updates, and industry leader interviews round out the program to prepare you, your colleagues, and your business for the future of intermodal.

SCTECH2021 Conference

October 4-7

Registration for this European conference, which is billed as a vibrant meeting place for supply chain and technology decision-makers, not only includes entry to the virtual 2021event but access to a recording of the 2020 run. Learn about supply chain trends so you can make informed technology-selection decisions.