2021 Spring Travel Forum to be Virtual

(March 4, 2021) KTIA will not be hosting an in-person Spring Travel Forum (STF) this year. Anyone reading this has had to make important and difficult decisions over the last year and to do so in consideration of unprecedented and uncertain conditions. Put KTIA in that same boat right alongside you. And as you also know, multiple factors go into these kinds of decisions and we want to share the full set of considerations with you regarding STF.

A major part of the consideration is the degree of COVID-19 uncertainty that still exists – cases are down, but are appearing to plateau; vaccine distribution is accelerating, but predictions vary about when a significant percentage of the general public (members) will be vaccinated; and then there are continuing questions about virus variants. These points take nothing away from the many positive developments with the pandemic and vaccines, nor from our obvious desire to get back to normal with in-person conferences. Nonetheless, they present enough uncertainties and unknowns that we want to wait until there is a more solid health and safety footing before resuming in-person events.  

There is a second set of factors in our decision, which also includes deciding to not attempt to hold a hybrid conference. Those factors relate to the strong likelihood of a significantly smaller attendance with a conference that always has a relatively small attendance in normal times (approximately 200), and the resulting diluted value for those who do attend, including for our exhibitors and sponsors. Attendance and value considerations, which also apply to a hybrid conference, also carry with them financial implications for KTIA at a time that we can ill-afford financial losses. The financial element is especially acute with a hybrid conference due to the higher costs they require. 

Woven throughout the thoughts above and core to our always present commitment to put our members first and foremost, are considerations from members' perspectives. There is still a struggle for many, both to ensure the health and safety of themselves and their employees, as well as to regain their businesses’ financial health. Those struggles are why we expect attendance to be down. Additionally, we want to be sensitive to not press members for attendance and support at a time that many will be hard pressed to provide it in the form of permitting employees to attend a gathering and also in the expenditure of travel and registration funds.

We have begun planning a robust set of virtual offerings as a substitute for STF. We are well aware of Zoom fatigue and we are committed to overcoming that as we did with our October Virtual Summit, which received an 87.33% positive rating by participants. Also, we are fully optimistic about holding our normal in-person annual conference in November so be sure to save the date for November 10-12 in Louisville. The pent-up demand by members to get together, combined with having conserved financial resources to be invested in the annual conference, promises to make it the most memorable event in KTIA history.