Charles Dickens answered this question years ago: "Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true." Indeed, we need to be brave agents of change for our students' sake. We need to be true believers that we can make a difference in our students' lives. To remain true and brave we need inspiration.
In my view, inspiration comes from the energy accumulated and transmitted among the conference participants. Face-to-face conferences are a powerful source of motivation for teachers. The sense of shared inspiration and excitement cannot be live-streamed.
I believe that face-to-face events will also remain popular because they offer opportunities for interaction during the workshops and talks as well as for networking on coffee breaks. Physical presence at an event is a chance to meet inspirational leaders and speakers, to chat with them and ask questions after their presentations.
If you ask me, magic is what teachers do everyday to change their teaching and students' learning for better. In its turn, great ELT events have a similar transformational impact on educators. These miraculous processes of teaching, learning and information exchange have an inevitable human touch to them and cannot be sent in an attachment, downloaded or life-streamed.