Conference Season in a COVID-19 World? – May 20th, 2020


Issue #24: Conference Season in a COVID-19 World?

I love travelling for industry conferences, easily one of my favorite parts of the job. Getting out of the office and connecting with new and old industry contacts is always a valuable experience. Not to mention, as a software professional, one of the few times I actually need to wear a suit.
It’s usually right around this time that I start to register for or get asked to speak at some of the mortgage industry fall conferences and conventions. MBA Annual; ALTA ONE; the various technology shows or local events. By now, the agendas are coming together and we’re starting to make travel plans.

This year, obviously, will be different and it’s not looking like we’ll have a guaranteed “free and clear” by October or November. So I’m asking a lot of questions right now—few of which have obvious answers.
The most obvious of the obvious questions is “will the conferences happen?” A few say, tentatively, “full speed ahead.” Others aren’t sure yet. Still others have “gone digital”…which breeds more questions.
How much is a digital conference worth? Sure, one saves the travel costs, but it seems to me that a digital conference only really provides about 1 or 2 of the elements I look for in a conference. Sure, there’s the content. And, to a digital degree, there’s some networking. But the exhibit halls; the ability to “bump into” new prospects; the social rituals which help us to truly bond with clients and partners…all missing. So how much should it cost to “attend” what sure feels like another webinar?

And if a conference happens, will it make a difference where it’s held? Would I pass on a show in New York but allow myself to board an airplane to go to, say, Salt Lake City? Would I board any airplane, for that matter? Or stay in a hotel? Would an Air BNB be safter?
If that conference happens on site, live, what will the organizers do to keep attendees safe? Will they limit attendees? Will we wear masks? Will there be exhibit booths?
If the conferences don’t happen “live,” when will the next truly “live” conference be? January? Next May? Fall of 2021?

You can use the words “the new normal” all you like. To me, there’s nothing “normal” about the questions we’re asking ourselves these days.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about the fall conferences: are you attending? Are you sponsoring or exhibiting? Are you doing the same for the “virtual shows?”

If you’ve got some insight on these questions or other questions of your own, send them to me and I’ll compile them here in a future Deeper Thoughts! Just email me at
Stay safe, everyone!

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