(From Feb Hearts Talk) by Tanya Kean, Events Manager
Everyone is hoping to attend RWA’s 30th anniversary conference at the Gold Coast in person, but as 2020 has shown us all, nothing is a sure thing and plans need to be flexible and adaptable to the ever-changing travel and social distancing restrictions.
As Events Manager I am faced with making difficult and often frustrating decisions based on guesswork, planning for an uncertain future and using information that is out of date as soon as I use it. I know, I have never faced planning an event under these circumstances and I’ve got to say it’s not a fun experience!! In our 30 year history, planning for the conference has never had to factor in a global pandemic.
Under normal circumstances we would invite our international guests up to two years before the event, lock in our contracts at least a year in advance and have the workshop program rough draft ready eight months out from conference. Not this year!
The ‘what if’s’, ‘maybes’ and ‘I just don’t know’ and trying to untangle the knots of programming, amending contracts several times and inviting presenters that may not be able to travel is not what I signed up for! But, having said that I’ve found a new found ability to think outside of the box and a range of skills I never envisaged I’d gain as Events Manager. Not only do I need a plan B but also a C, D and E.
2021 sees RWA achieve 30 years as an organisation, a milestone worth a spectacular conference program. I am determined the conference will be one that celebrates everything we have achieved in the past thirty years as well as look forward to the years to come. The big question is; how will that look?
I wanted to give members an update on where conference planning is currently sitting.
- The conference planning team is very much working towards a physical conference. (I want to see my peeps!)
- The Gold Coast venue has detailed it’s Covid safe plan, which states they must comply with the Queensland government policy of the number of people per square metre rule. Currently, this means we can have maximum attendees as per their room capacity. This may change and we may have to restrict numbers, details will be updated in the March issue of Heart’s Talk, when registrations are due to open.
- The most likely scenario from government advice, (keep in mind, this is one plan and could change at any time) would be that local presenters will be able to attend as well as Australian and possibly New Zealand members. Local border restrictions notwithstanding.
- Due to the Australian government advice that overseas travellers comply with mandatory 14 day quarantine even after the vaccine is rolled out, it is likely our international guests will not be able to attend the conference. The team is waiting until June 30 before making a final decision to allow any changes to government policy.
- The conference planning team is exploring the possibility of replacing some of our international presenters with local presenters, in the event our international presenters are unable to attend.
- Our international pitch partners have been contacted and we are in discussions regarding taking virtual pitches similar to the 2020 virtual pitch program. (via zoom etc)
- There will be a Covid safe plan for all attendees. Mandatory masks and QR code tracking may be a possibility at registration!
So to recap, the 2021 Gold Coast conference is still being planned as a physical conference, but with a modified presentation format. Up until the first day of the conference, plans are likely to change, as Covid impacts those plans. Please bear with the team as we navigate through the changes and try to work through the process to ensure we have the best possible conference to celebrate this awesome milestone.
PLEASE NOTE: The 2021 Gold Coast Conference as of 8 April 2021 has Early Bird Tickets selling and most scheduling complete. To get the latest news subscribe to this blog. Remember to update your Grenadine app so all scheduling is up-to-date.