LAS VEGAS — Perhaps the most telling comment I can make about how the annual conference hosted by Receivables Management Association International (RMAI) went these past few days is the number of times I heard people asking one another, “So, what is the next conference you’re going to?” People were asking if they were going to see each other next month at NCBA’s show in Orlando or Michigan ACA’s conference on Mackinac Island, or if they would be coming back to Las Vegas in July for ACA’s annual event. While the itch to get out of the house and on the road again was scratched for a lot of people thanks to RMAI, the event also reignited the desire that many of us have to be able to regularly see our friends and colleagues in person.
Full credit goes to RMAI for the great job it did at managing its event under less-than-ideal circumstances. Many of the events were moved outside to help minimize potential issues related to indoor gatherings and people were spread out in bigger ballrooms for educational sessions and the exhibit hall to encourage social distancing. RMAI made the right decision to postpone its conference from its usual early February timeslot and everyone who attended the event was happy they did.
Who knows how long we are going to keep having to wear masks and social distance and take all the precautions we need to take on a daily basis to try and stay safe. It was encouraging to see people trying to figure out a way to make things work in this new normal and taking steps to try and bring back all the things that we used to take for granted — remember when you thought there were too many conferences in this industry every year?
For a few days, and for the first time in a long time, things felt a little bit like normal again. Certainly everyone who was at the event needed to make adjustments, but everyone did so willingly because we saw the bigger picture. Virtual happy hours and webinars have been great substitutes for the past year, but it is impossible to recreate walking down a hallway and running into someone you haven’t seen in forever and having a quick conversation to catch up.
To those I got the chance to spend time with this week in Vegas, it was great seeing you and I hope we get to do it again very soon!