National Convention Update
The IPMS/USA Executive Board and the 2020 National Convention Planning Committee are still moving forward with planning and on-time execution of the 2020 convention. We are well aware of the plethora of challenges ahead of us in the next 90 days. There are many more unknowns than there are knowns at the moment. However, with the facts on-hand we feel the convention can still be held.
The #1 consideration in planning is the health and well-being of all of our members. Some of you have reached out to me stating that since you are in a high-risk age or health group you are not willing to risk being exposed to COVID-19. We fully understand this and agree that if you are in a high-risk category, we feel that you are probably better off not coming even if all restrictions are lifted by late July.
I have read many opinions on public forums over the past several weeks regarding the status of this summer's convention. As a convention planner, the biggest item I pay attention to is the contract that IPMS/USA committed to with the hosting hotel, Embassy Suites, and their parent company, Atrium Hospitality. These contracts are generally written in favor of the hotel, i.e., the financial burden is on the guest (IPMS/USA) to produce the numbers expected for the hotel to make a profit. We could have balked at the contract when it was presented in 2018 but then the week we picked would have went to the next organization looking to host a convention. In other words, we have to play by the hospitality industry's rules. If IPMS/USA were to back out of the contract without cause the financial burden on our society to be very substantial. Luckily, Embassy Suites in San Marcos is fully aware of the current COVID-19 situation - and in fact they are taking it in the shorts like all other hotels around the country - and have verbally agreed to work with us to execute a successful convention regardless of the contract language. This is good news for IPMS/USA. I am committed to working with Embassy Suites since they have been so good in working with us during the past couple of years to make our show a success.
The biggest wild card that both the General Manager (of Embassy Suites) and I see at the moment are government-imposed restrictions on crowd sizes and public gatherings. This is the biggest factor we are keeping an eye on and is what will eventually dictate if we are FORCED to cancel. If there are public gathering restrictions or reductions in maximum occupancy rules in the local city and county, we will assess if we can still execute a convention based on the details of potential restrictions. AS OF RIGHT NOW THERE ARE NO RESTRICTIONS EXTENDING TO THE DATES OF THE CONVENTION. There may be many opinions and conjecture regarding restrictions in-place during the convention but as of today, they remain conjecture. I am not planning a convention based on conjecture and opinion...only facts.
A lot of what the committee will plan in the coming months will be based on the numbers we see for pre-registrations and other convention related purchases. If we see extremely low numbers - like we are seeing so far - we will scale back what we are spending money on. I have no more details on this other than we are looking at options that may produce a smaller-size convention than others in the past. It pains me to plan this way because I think I am the most excited IPMS member regarding this convention but I have to face the reality of what is happening in the world today. It's not fair but it is happening. We will deal with it.
Refunds: If you have spent money so far and if you want to spend money registering in the short-term be assured that IPMS/USA will refund any money if we are FORCED to cancel due to the public gathering restrictions I mention above.
Unfortunately, there remain many more questions than we have answers for at the moment. I wish I had a crystal ball that could tell me/us exactly what the conditions on the ground will be this summer but I don't...the team has to plan with the best information it has at the moment. This is what we will do.