I've attended a few genealogy conferences in my day. Not a lot, maybe a dozen or so in total. But I've been to enough to know that each one has it's own character. Some are all business, professional through and through. Others are very casual, like a group of old friends getting together for a social hour. Most fall somewhere in between.
I've attended online webinars a time or two as well. For the most part, my impression of them is the same... some are all business, others are like chatting with a friend. The tone/character definitely depends on the person giving the webinar.
From a purely social standpoint, I enjoy getting to see my genealogy buddies and catching up on their lives and their research when I see them face to face at conferences. Online chats and webinars will never equal live conferences for me when it comes to socializing.
On the other hand, I must confess to feeling annoyed when I have to commit time and money on an entire conference when all I am interested in is one or two sessions and lunch with my friends. Oh, for cafeteria-style registration! What a lovely idea :-)
Inevitably, for any given conference session there will be 3 offerings to choose from and they will either be 3 I'm not interested in or I will be interested in all 3 and be forced to make a choice. And no matter what I choose, the folks who chose the other presentations will have always made a better choice than I did. Oh, for digitally recorded, on-demand presentations as options! What a genius idea :-)
You know how they always have the tables and booths set up for vendors to sell their wares at conferences? I just love to spend time shopping there! Except that then I have to cart an arm full of heavy books around all day or risk having them sell out by the time I return. And you know they'll sell out, it happens to me every time I take a chance. Oh, for a knight in shining armor (or six-pack abs) to carry my books for me! What a delightful idea :-)
Why is it that the one presentation of the whole conference I'm most interested in is always on a different floor and across the building from where ever I am? In spite of my best efforts I end up walking in late and not finding a seat. Why does this always happen to me? Oh, for Scotty's transporter! What a clever idea :-)
I guess you could say I have a love/hate relationship with genealogy conferences, mixed feelings certainly. Now if I had my way I'd design a conference implementing my lovely, genius, delightful, and clever ideas. It would have to be a fantasy conference though because everyone knows chivalry is dead ;-)