Dear ESPA Members,

Important 2021 Annual Conference Update

After considerable evaluation of the current environment with COVID and with our members, ESPA has decided to transition it’s Annual Conference to be virtual.

Our industry has certainly been devastated by the COVID pandemic and we know our ESPA Members have been struggling during this time.  But brighter times are ahead and we know that our members are looking forward to the rebound and getting back to face-to face meetings which is near and dear to all of us!  Our ESPA members are resourceful and highly skilled problem solvers that can bring a high level of expertise and perspective to our meeting planners.  Our education is focused on supporting you as you help planners face new challenges while planning COVID-era events.

Who would be better to show how to successfully and properly run a convention with social distance and safety factors in mind?  We know ESPA would be the top choice to demonstrate and show others that it can be done.  However, as we look ahead to planning our own January event, we have many factors to consider.  We need to evaluate if our in-person Conference is in the best interest of our members at this time.  What rises to the top of our evaluation process is the ESPA leadership’s commitment to stay true to our primary mission …to prepare members, through education and networking, for their pivotal role in innovative and successful event execution.  Our objective is always to keep our members connected and to deliver content, education and peer networking in the best way that we can.

With this mission in mind, ESPA recently conducted a poll of members to learn their ability to attend the in-person Annual Conference in January.  The results demonstrated widespread limitations on member budgets and travel which would significantly hamper ESPA’s ability to deliver education and networking benefits to a wide audience of our member base.  After considering the full picture of where our members are – some now a department of one juggling multiple roles, some laid off or furloughed – it was clear to the leadership that to best serve our members, a virtual Annual Conference will simply reach more people, and carry a lower cost for member participation.  This objective, coupled with the outlook for COVID public health impacts and safety being unknown as we head into the end of the year, led us to this decision.

And so, going virtual in January 2021 is a decision we will embrace!   It’s time to get energized knowing that we will all gather over two days Thursday / Friday January 21-22, for our services-centric event.  Virtually or in-person, our members will be “together.”

Education will focus on new and changing event services topics including learnings and best practices for COVID-era events.  We may even be incorporating a localized in-person component to the event.  Stay tuned for more information.  But in the meantime, please click over to your calendars and block off January 21-22. This is your time to meet, learn and re-connect with your ESPA peers!

We will look forward to meeting again live in our host city of Kansas City in January 2022 – and we can’t wait.

Thank you for your continued support and engagement in ESPA.  We are #ServicesStrong!

Jamie Huckleberry
Director of Event Services
David L Lawrence Convention Center / SMG
ESPA President

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