Convention Photography of attendees waiting to enter General Session

Conventions, Meetings and Conferences are coming back in 2021 in the United States!

Conventions, Meetings and Conferences are coming back in 2021. I can say this with confidence because I have already booked and secured five already through November.

Event Photography of man holding sign with beear in hand in front of DINGLE PENINSULA, KERRY

Event Photography of man holding sign with beer in hand in front of DINGLE PENINSULA, KERRY

Looking back at March 2020, will always be a memory engrained in my psyche. The last meeting was cancelled March 11th and the calls and emails just kept coming. My last Corporate Event PhotographyConvention Photography | Conference & Event Photography assignment for the country of Ireland. I have worked with Hillarie McGuinness who represents Ireland’s National Trade Events & Luxury Travel, for about two years and travel to 9 major cities each year with her. The hope is that 2022 will get me back with this incredible group again as Europe can put the pandemic behind them.

So, what’s happening now in the meeting Industry in United States?

For starters, many meeting planners are getting busy with logistics. Those in the know, realize booking space is often a few years out to get the best dates needed for the yearly conventions, conferences, and industry tradeshow event.

Tradeshow attendees walking past exhibits

Tradeshow and Exhibitor Photography of Siemens Hearing Audiology Now booth.

Though the pandemic caused a disruption on all levels many hotels, venues and convention centers are working with groups to help them achieve their meeting needs. Now virtual is still a component and may be the new hybrid for conventions but still in person meetings at Hotels, Conventions centers and venues will continue to grow as the virus slows.

My first Convention Photography assignment is June 13-16th in San Antonio is 7×24 Exchange International.  Meetings are coming back to San Antonio.

Conveniton-Conference-Photography of Michael James Massimino former NASA astronaut speaking at 7x24 Exchange Conference

Conveniton-Conference-Photography of Michael James Massimino former NASA astronaut speaking at 7×24 Exchange Conference ©Joseph Rodriguez | Proimagesphoto.com

7×24 Exchange International holds their conferences twice a year nationally. This organization provides an educational forum focusing on challenges faced by mission critical industry professionals. Members are a diverse group as the industry itself. Aerospace, energy, financial services, government, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, media, technology and more.

7×24 Exchange International is committed to addressing the challenges of energy efficiency and sustainability, providing continued value to member companies and conference participants, and giving back through its social responsibility initiative.

2020 saw both of their meetings cancelled. June 2020 was supposed to be in Phoenix, AZ, and the Fall meeting in, Orlando, FL. Brandon Dolci is the Senior Director of Conferences for 7×24 Exchange International has been hiring me since 2003.

This year’s meeting is at the beautiful JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa with modern event space and conference rooms for any meeting or convention.

Meeting Photography of breakout room at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa.

Meeting Photography of breakout room at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa.©Joseph Rodriguez | proimagesphoto.com

I love this hotel because of the space it offers for not just guests, but for the meeting industry. The ballroom is huge. Total event space is 267823 sq ft and their largest space boasts 6300 sq ft and if you need breakout rooms, well, how’s 52 of them sound?

Saying I am excited to get back to what I love is an understatement. Being a Convention and Tradeshow Photographer, Covering a speaker on stage and creating strong images for my clients is exciting to me. Taking images from the start of a Convention to the end of the Convention is telling a story. Many of the photos I take are used in social and marketing applications and often in the apps, and schedules created.

Before we get too comfortable getting back to meetings.

It is important to note that the meeting industry is coming back but we need to also be careful to follow COVID protocol at your convention, tradeshow, or event.

Please note these are my recommendations and I am not a doctor.

  • Try to be 6 feet apart from others. I know it’s hard but we must try.
  • Wear your mask, when possible, even if you have had your vaccine.
  • Wash your hands often during the day.
  • Avoid grabbing the bathroom door handle where many come in and out.
  • Carry sanitizer with you.
  • Fist bump, elbow bump as much as possible.
  • If you have not gotten a shot. CDC recommends wearing a mask.
  • Refrain from using someone else’s pen, phone, or computers.

Why is In Person meetings on the rise in 2021 even with all the protocols in place?

We are at a point in meetings and conventions where we need to get back to in person face to face meetings and conferences. NorthStar Meetings Group’s latest survey found that 81 percent of meeting planners will hold their in-person event sometime this year. 81 percent of the meeting planners will hold their next in-person event in 2022. Approximately 59% will fall in the second half of 2021. About 19 percent will hold their in-person meetings in 2022.

Just a mention about Europe meeting planners during this COVID time of ours.

Meeting planners in the U.K. and Europe are cautious about getting back to in person meetings and are still doing virtual and hybrid meetings, this was talked and written about in the U.K. PULSE Survey

Recently I read that Maritz Global Events is reporting signs of recovery as well. Company President David Peckinpaugh recently stated.

“We recently delivered registration and on-site solutions for two in-person trade shows, and we are seeing increased sourcing volume for future meetings and incentives”

“Our data shows that we will begin seeing an uptick in late summer and early fall, with a more robust recovery happening in 2022.”

This is positive and can help us to make plans for meetings more confidently.

Is Vaccine Rollouts making a difference?

Vaccine Rollouts are a start and recent new data suggest it has made a difference. In Texas 1 out of 3 Texan are now fully vaccinated. I am not a doctor and my knowledge is limited so I will share what I have researched.

Gallup just put out this newsworthy article.

  • In U.S., 64% vaccinated, 12% plan to be
  • 78% of those not planning to get vaccinated are unlikely to change their mind

Graph showing three-quarters of the US Audlts Vaccinated Against COVID-19 or Plan to be.

As of the May 18-23 survey, 60% of U.S. adults report they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 4% have been partially vaccinated, 12% plan to be vaccinated and 24% do not plan to be vaccinated.

Among those not planning to be vaccinated, 78% say they are unlikely to reconsider their plans, including 51% who say they are “not likely at all” to change their mind and get vaccinated. That leaves one in five vaccine-reluctant adults open to reconsidering, with 2% saying they are very likely and 19% saying they are somewhat likely to change their mind and get vaccinated — equivalent to 5% of all U.S. adults.

To help people get the vaccine, some pretty thinking outside the box ideas have been popping up, like brewer Anheuser-Busch is offering Americans free beer if the nation meets Biden’s goal.

Free beer for a vaccine that can save your life? Where’s this line? I had my shots already and plan to wear my mask while working this coming weekend.

After all I am a Convention Photographer and my workspace is around people, a lot of people so I am well in the thick of the crowd but I practice safe measures and protocols.

Why do we need face to face meetings, conventions, and conferences?

Having face to face with your peers in your industry is critical on many levels.

Here is my personal list of why face to face meetings is important.

  • Face-to-face conventions, meetings, conferences or more productive because they are focused.

Think about this, in person meetings often are more positive and productive. Meeting face to face creates more ideas than a virtual meeting.

  • Technology at meetings is constantly evolving and improve our ability to meet and network at higher levels.

As a Corporate Photographer for meetings, I have seen conference attendees use their phones, tablets, and Laptops more, to look at the conference schedules and events. Also, social media usage skyrockets which relates to many mentions of the meeting they are at. Meeting attendees post their favorite speakers on their LinkedIn and other social media accounts. So being in person is an integral part of any meeting.

  • Building Strong Relationships

Face to face meetings is vital for long-term business relationships. Meeting your client shows that you value their business and time. Reconnecting at a convention or tradeshow with a client always brings positive results and helps create a bond and often friendship.

  • Loyalty and Trust

When you create the face-to-face interaction and find a common goal a trust happens and loyalty follows.

These are just some of many reasons why need to get back to in person meetings on all levels. This past year has created a different way of doing business and yet many still need to meet in person.

So, meetings are coming back and I hope by 2022 it will triple in size, the pandemic will be behind us and we can go back to doing what we love. If you have any thoughts or feedback please share. Looking for a convention, meeting or event photographer? Send an email at joseph@proimagesphoto.com

Be safe and remember to wash your hands often, try to stand at least 6 feet part if you can. 2021 can be as productive as we want it to be if we stay focused on what is important and know we have great opportunities ahead. Subscribe to my news / blog.

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