Gain’s team recently returned from our first in-person conference in quite some time. The first week in June marked the first non-remote IASA Annual Conference in three years.
The high-level recap was that it was, as always, phenomenal. Not only does the organization do a first-class job of hosting, but the attendees are, quite simply, our people. (IASA = Insurance Accounting and Systems Association; you’d be hard pressed to dial up a better description of Gain’s target audience.).
We caught up with many current customers and new prospects. Lots of fun and very productive.
Here are my takeaways from the experience:
- First and foremost – it’s wonderful to see people in person. Remote meetings are great in so many ways, but there is no substitute for human connection. It’s incredibly gratifying to meet people whom we’ve been supporting (in some cases for years) but had never met.
- Still – the world is not completely back to normal. Covid still casts a long shadow – a lot of our customers have not normalized their travel policies. And, the week of the conference, Baltimore was identified as a high-risk area for the latest variant. The upshot was that attendance was down by approximately half.
- Likewise, vendor participation was down. There’s an obvious interdependency between the willingness of vendors and sponsors to attend and exhibit (and subsidize the event) and the level of attendance.
- It doesn’t look this part of the world will get back to its prior state in the near future. There are so many reasons for this – Covid variants, the poor economy, and, perhaps most impactful, the idea that business might have fundamentally changed. The pandemic showed us the possibilities of remote work, and a byproduct is that in-person interactions are valued less now.
As someone who believes personal relationships are fundamental to establishing trust, empathy, and commitment in business, I’m disappointed that opportunities to meet are fewer. This isn’t to say that it’s impossible to build this foundation in other ways – and we certainly should remember that there are upsides to the possibilities of remote work – but the world is a little different now.