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ASAE Chooses Hybrid Format for Annual Meeting in August

Despite greater vaccine availability and Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s full opening of businesses and venues, the association for associations will not host all its event attendees in Dallas.

On March 3, the American Society of Association Executives announced that its 2021 Annual Meeting & Exposition, originally scheduled for August 14-17 at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas, “will be held virtually alongside smaller regional hub meetings that can safely take place in person around the country.” In other words, it will be a hybrid event.

This is the second annual meeting that ASAE will conduct primarily through electronic means. Last year, the association was unable to hold the event, which also would have been its 100th anniversary celebration, at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Instead, the event became a fully virtual experience over the same dates, drawing a record 14,108 association professionals, sponsors, and exhibitors—71 percent of whom were first-time participants.

ASAE’s decision not to conduct a large in-person meeting in Texas this August comes at an eventful moment in the year-old Covid-19 pandemic. First, President Joe Biden said this week that with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine ready for use, there is now enough supply to inoculate nearly every American by the end of May. A day later, Biden called the decision by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to lift all mask requirements and capacity restrictions on businesses and venues “premature” and “Neanderthal thinking.”

AM0321TSAEstevenstout.pngSteven Stout, executive director of the Texas Society of Association Executives, told MeetingsNet on March 3 that “as the governor lifts the mandates, we agree that everyone should continue to exercise responsibility for their own safety and the safety of those around them. We encourage every organization [that’s considering holding an in-person meeting] to check with their leadership, their host venues, and local government recommendations in making decisions that create a safe and welcoming environment for all of their members, attendees, stakeholders, and the community at large.”

“As has been the case throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, ASAE’s first priority in all meetings and events decisions is the safety and welfare of our participants,” said ASAE President and CEO Susan Robertson, CAE. “The ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition is the largest meeting on our calendar each year. Logistically, a lot of planning goes into every aspect of the meeting to ensure its success and, right now, there are too many variables outside our control that could impact our attendees’ meeting experience. While we’re all eager for a full-bore return to face-to-face meetings, we’re excited to create some options in August for our attendees to access top-level content virtually or reunite with their colleagues and partners in a safe, controllable environment.”

Regional hub locations for the ASAE annual meeting have not yet been determined, but Dallas and other ASAE Alliance Partner destinations are likely to serve as regional hubs. Registration for the reconfigured 2021 event will open May 3, and more details will be posted to the ASAE website at that time.

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