GALA 2020: The State of Affairs
Two months ago, when we postponed GALA's annual conference from March to September, we had no idea what a profound impact the novel coronavirus would have around the world. What’s more, the persistent uncertainty created by the pandemic makes planning for the future a tough challenge. Even the best minds in science and medicine can’t tell us what will happen, so we are left to make contingency plans and hope for the best. It's important to me, the GALA Team, and the Board of Directors that our members understand we're being pro-active, conscientious, and thorough in our approach to this challenge.
What I want you to know right now are three things: 1) we are working on this challenge daily, 2) we are in touch with critical stakeholders, 3) the safety of our delegates is our top priority.
As an event organizer, there are many factors to consider in a situation like this, especially when your audience is comprised of delegates from more than 50 countries. There are public health factors such as the rate of transmission, the status of COVID and antibody testing, and critical care capacity in communities around the world. There are policy factors such as mandated quarantines, closed borders, and the availability of travel visas. And there are business factors, such as corporate travel bans, vendor contracts, cancellation fees, and budgets.
With all this in mind, the GALA team and board have been making contingency plans for the September 2020 conference. If we could write the script, we would postpone the conference and offer our carefully selected content virtually instead. But the decision to postpone is not ours alone. We must reach a mutually agreeable solution with our host-venue, the Manchester Grand Hyatt.
For the moment, we cannot say with certainty what our conference plans will be, but we want you to know that we are actively working on solutions. The GALA conference is our biggest event of the year and a source of half of the association’s revenues. It is also a popular and well-liked event in the industry. Please know that we are as eager as you are to have answers and a plan. We will keep you informed as we make progress, and we promise to be transparent about the decisions we make.
Thanks for your patience.
Wishing you good health from my kitchen-office near Seattle,