2020 Convention Recap

Please check out the following information from the 2020 NALTO®/NAPR Annual Convention held in Tampa, Florida! 

Thanks to all of our attendees, sponsors and exhibitors.  You make the Convention GREAT! 

Click here to view this year's onsite program.

2020 NALTO®/NAPR Annual Convention Recap: 
COVID-tion 2020 – No Longer the Old Normal

by Bob Bregant, NAPR President 

It is tradition for the President to write a recap of the annual NAPR Convention. This year’s event came at a historically unique time where society literally transitioned from the old to the new normal.

I arrived at the Kansas City airport Tuesday, March 10, went through security and boarded my plane under the old assumptions of normal, until I pulled out the wet wipes that my wife insisted, I carry and cleaned my seatbelt, tray and armrests. I noticed no one else around me doing the same, even though the media had been promoting this precaution for days. I felt a little embarrassed to wipe and figured my seatmates thought I was being paranoid. The old normal.

On the day prior to the Convention, both association boards held their meetings. That day we saw the first sign of things to come as our keynote speaker, a practicing physician, requested to change her presentation from in-person to remote. Our organizers scrambled to implement the necessary technology to allow for her remote presentation. This seemed like a big ask by the speaker at the time, but as I sit in my home office today, my wife and daughter, both teachers, are working with their administration to implement remote classes for the remainder of the year. The new normal predicted at Convention.

Wednesday evening the Convention kicked off with a reasonably strong attendance, given the uneasiness that had begun to pervade the nation, everyone in attendance nervously positive. Though “social distancing” was not yet a formal recommendation, we replaced handshakes with fist bumps. Still, downtown Tampa appeared normal as attendees went out to dinner and bars were filled with conventioneers.

Thursday was the day that society began to change. Sports leagues began postponing seasons and March Madness was cancelled. The convention hotel was 100% booked, due to a basketball tournament being held in the adjacent arena. By day’s end, we were told bookings were down to 35%. Our day started off with the remote keynote speaker, but otherwise the event progressed normally. Social distancing was still not a “thing,” so our lunch event was crowded. The first mention of COVID-19 as a part of the agenda occurred during our Networking event. NALTO President Matt Erickson had a great suggestion to start the session with a discussion of how the virus outbreak might affect our industry. The conversation was very enlightening and began to open our eyes to the new normal.

The Thursday Casino Night event went off as planned, despite questions of sharing cards and chips. A lively group continued on the outdoor bar terrace after. The old normal was still difficult to let go. Someone jokingly remarked that they were reminded of the movie, Independence Day, when a crowd of partiers danced on the roof of an urban sky scraper while the aliens prepared to invade.

Friday was the end of the old normal. The shortened morning activities, including a second remote keynote, reflected the social distancing recommendation as attendees began to sit further apart. Then we left for home and the new normal sunk in. The airport was bustling, but people were sitting apart and using wet wipes on everything. I got home and left all my luggage outside so that I could clean everything before bringing it inside.

That was Friday March 13, the end of the old normal. My wife and I were scheduled to leave Sunday, March 15, for a Spring Break vacation with two Canadian couples. Everyone was still on board until Thursday, March 12, when we agreed we should probably postpone, since we had no idea whether restaurants and events would be open, and there was some question of how travel might be restricted. We really considered going anyway, since we thought the whole virus thing might be overblown. By Saturday it was obvious we had made the right decision.

Since Saturday, March 14, social distancing is not just a thing—it’s the thing. Trips to the grocery store feel like a bad idea, but we need necessities. People walk around with a suspicious eye on one another, hoping not to even bump shopping carts. I am fortunate that I have worked from home for the last nine years, so the old normal is still the new normal for me in that respect. But now I am sharing workspace and time with my wife and daughter who are scrambling to teach restless third graders and high school students using Zoom and online strategies they have never used.

The last week, the weather has been gloomy in Kansas City, which has not helped our mental state. We are trying to start this week off with more structure, scheduling a workout at a regular time, getting away from the overeating and drinking that we excused last week, since we were supposed to be on vacation.

So far, my business has not been negatively impacted. Candidates are still responding to job postings, no one that accepted a position in the last two weeks has backed out due to the “unknowns” of the future, clients are still responding normally. How long will the old normal continue in this regard, I have no idea. All I know is I need to get on the treadmill and quit watching the news, so I can keep my head normal.

Note: I would like to thank all the NAPR and NALTO members that attended the Convention. And I especially want to extend our appreciation to the Vendor Sponsors and exhibitors that joined us. Everyone that came to Tampa had to make a personal decision whether they should attend, based on the information we had at the time. If the event would have been scheduled a week earlier, there would have been very few concerns. A week later, and there would have been no doubt it would have been cancelled. Convention 2020 occurred at the exact time when the old normal became the new normal. I will remember it as the last time I felt normal for quite some time. Be safe everyone - and keep your distance. Hope your business is going well.

Next year’s convention will be held virtually February 17-19, 2021. We look forward to hosting you!