September 30 was a newsworthy day for the meetings and events industry—which, given the effect the Covid pandemic has had on the business, is saying something. That day, both the American Society of Association Executives and the International Association for Exhibitions and Events announced that their upcoming in-person shows will require all participants to present proof of Covid vaccination in order to complete their registrations and enter the meeting facilities.
The announcements follow that of the Professional Convention Management Association, which several weeks ago instituted a vaccine mandate for its annual Convening Leaders conference to be held in Las Vegas in January. Both IAEE’s annual meeting & exhibition, known as Expo! Expo!, and ASAE’s Technology Exploration Conference are set for the first half of December—less than 10 weeks away.
In a press release, IAEE noted that “all [in-person] attendees and exhibitors must be fully vaccinated and present proof of vaccination, which may be submitted through the secure health platform Fern Health Check powered by ShareMy.Health.” Further, the show’s health & safety guide on the IAEE website states that “participants must submit a vaccine record that shows your final dose was received BEFORE November 22, 2021.” IAEE will also conduct daily health screenings at the venue’s entrance each day and will require all participants to wear masks.
“The IAEE Board of Directors voted unanimously for the vaccine requirement and believes this is the right decision for our trade-show community at this time,” said 2021 IAEE Chairperson Bob McLean, CPA, CAE, CEM, executive vice president of the Promotional Products Association International. “We are looking forward to experiencing the best and safest Expo! Expo! possible this year in Philadelphia.”
When asked if ASAE relied on member surveys, focus groups, or simply internal discussions to make its decision, Michelle Mason, president and CEO of ASAE, said that “it was really a combination of factors. The policy is also based on guidance and recommendations issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health authorities. We are following the science, which overwhelmingly says that the vaccines approved by the FDA have been determined to be critical in reducing the community prevalence of Covid-19.”
“ASAE has also certainly taken note of the vaccination requirements for the federal government announced in July, as well as the momentum in the private sector to take steps to keep employees and customers safe and protect the economy from further Covid-induced damage. ASAE’s policy was vetted by legal counsel and approved by the ASAE Board of Directors prior to implementation.”
As of October 7, ASAE’s system for verifying attendees’ proof of vaccination had not been announced. “We are working on implementing a technology solution to enable meeting registrants to submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination during the online registration process, and we will communicate the availability of that option as soon as possible,” Mason said. “We are looking at a couple of possible solutions, both of which verify against state records to ensure that what’s being supplied on the vaccination card actually is on record with state health departments. Both also require registrants to upload photos along with proof of vaccination.”
Aside from that, “reaction from the ASAE community has been overwhelmingly supportive since the policy was announced,” Mason noted. “We’ve even heard from other association leaders that they plan to use the ASAE policy as a model for their own organizations. The vast majority of our members are interested in policies and guidelines that can enhance their safety while attending an in-person event.”
One safety-related complication that remains for in-person events with a vaccine mandate: Facility workers and outside suppliers do not have to abide the mandate unless they voluntarily agree or the stipulation is written into a supplier’s contract for that event. In light of this, PCMA released this statement ahead of its January Convening Leaders event: “While the goal is to have everyone who works to create the meeting be vaccinated, we are still investigating what PCMA can legally require of other organizations’ employees. We will update this section with more information as it becomes available.”
For more details on gaining supplier adherence to an event’s vaccine mandate, read this MeetingsNet article.