This week is IT Expo, one of my favorite conferences of the year. And for the first time in a long time, with the last time being due to a cancelled red eye flight over ten years ago, I'm not going. And, unlike that aborted trip, this time it was my choice, and that choice was despite offers from clients to pay for my room, and offers from friends at TMC to continue my moderating streak of many years.
Did I want to attend? Yes. But a series of factors weighed in, and given this is a personal choice, I made the hard decision months ago that I wouldn't attend this year, as much as I wanted to.
1) Travel days-the reduction in non-stop flights to Miami over the spring and summer months started in May. Coupled with already a lack of non-stop flights and only non-stops on airlines without WiFi all means either a long travel day or a lost travel day on an airline like Frontier. Cheap yes. Productivity no. Given I have clients the world over, stretching from the UK, to Israel, Australia and of course the USA on both coasts it poses big challenges to be disconnected for two travel days and three or four business days while being on the floor.
2) COVID isn't over. Yes I'm vaccinated, but I'm also in a risk group age wise, and as a type two diabetic, still not willing to risk being at a very large event of thousands of people where Covid testing isn't required before entry on-site or before travel.
Have I been traveling over the past few months? Yes. But those trips often required pre-travel testing, onsite arrival testing, consistent temperature screening, hand sanitization between entries to restaurants, hotels, wineries and even my oxygen levels being tested using a pulse oximeter and more. Candidly, my experience in Mexico and Hawaii blew away the levels of safety. The same with winery visits in Paso Robles and Santa Barbara where everyone I know has been vaccinated as long or longer than me. I can't say I know that to be the case at trade shows or conferences.
3) Florida - the state has been one of the most relaxed and liberal minded states in the USA surrounding Covid since the start of the pandemic. The stats for Florida will often vary widely, but that's due to the transient nature of the residents and visitors. You have people who reside in the state part time, and in turn by now they have left as it's too hot. You have others who visit on long weekends or come to the coastal regions for sun and sand from cooler climate markets. The international nature of Florida with travelers who have residency permits, but can come from the Latin and South American countries also lends itself to higher risk of spreading Covid in a state where the rules are relaxed. Just look at photos from the beaches where mask wearing was so limited it wasn't funny.
Do I wish Rich Tehrani, Dave Rodriguez and the team all the success possible this year. Without question. A great turnout of exhibitors and attendees who pay to be there is essential for the survival of the event and in reality the industry, but my health, especially as the father to a six year old son, I need to be around for a long time, and attending events like IT Expo in the future.
So my message is clear. You should be there, unless you have factors in your life that cause you to hit pause, and make a personal choice, over a business reason for being there or not.
Enjoy the show!!