A Superlative Success
By Sue Lichtenfels
By all counts and accounts, the 2021 PCB Virtual Conference was a superlative success. It was my absolute pleasure to work with the amazing planning team: Tom Burgunder, Gigi Beatty, Melissa Carney, Suzanne Erb, Mary Ann Grignon, Chris Hunsinger, Bob Lichtenfels, Rose Martin, Kelsey Nicolay, Irene Rehman, Pam Shaw, Tony Swartz, and Jackie Wissinger, as well as Doug Hunsinger and the ACB volunteers.
We strove to make this year’s conference the best ever with the greatest number of registrants, diversity of topics and speakers, nation-wide exhibitors, and increased financial sponsorship. Thanks to the dedication of our team and the generosity of our supporters, we were able to exceed expectations.
While we all worked extremely hard, an equally important contributor to the success was our virtual setting. We did not face the many challenges of a physical conference site such as transporting equipment, scheduling meeting room space, filling our contracted block of guest rooms, reaching the guaranteed food and beverage expense, and paying for hotel A/V services. More importantly, our attendees didn’t have to pay for hotel, food, and transportation, spend hours traveling, and take time off work. The virtual setting allowed us to eliminate the attendees’ costs, reach more people in the comfort of home or work, serve those who have health or financial restrictions, provide a variety of ways to access conference programming, and decrease PCB’s financial risk. The virtual setting enabled us to attract presenters from around the world and across the country for free. Likewise, we were able to attract exhibitors and sponsors on the national stage which have rarely participated at on-site conferences. Planning a virtual conference turns out to be much easier and inclusive than a physical conference.
While I have tendered my resignation as the PCB Conference Coordinator because of medical and personal challenges, I wanted to share some thoughts about future conferences. Our last in-person conference only attracted 81 attendees, while the 2021 event registered 153 individuals, a 93% increase. Many times, over the past year and a half I’ve heard people say the pandemic was a blessing because it changed some of the ways we think or do things. Discovering the success PCB can have with holding virtual conferences is one of those blessings. It would be a shame if PCB went back to the same old way of holding conferences.