Conferences matter. Since the beginning of time man has congregated to celebrate, learn, share ideas and socialize. The advent of social media does not replace the human desire to be part of a community. Even the recent years of recession could not stop the most desirable conferences from growing (SXSW exploded from 2009 to 2012). People want to come together, and when a meeting has impact.... they come back year after year (and bring their friends!).
Some have argued that traditional live meetings are "old school" and have outlived their usefulness, but I disagree. Boring live meetings that are not challenging the experience of attendees are the problem. In a recent conversation with an association executive in charge of a large convention, she said "While our numbers are dropping, our board is not ready to try anything new this year". If not now, when?