SURVEY SAYS: When It Will Be Safe to Attend In-Person Conferences?

PLANSPONSOR NewsDash readers offer their opinions about attending in-person conferences.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “Assuming safety precautions are still taken, when do you think it will be safe to attend in-person conferences again?”

Sixty-one percent of respondents work in a plan sponsor role, 17.1 each are recordkeepers/TPAs/investment consultants and advisers/consultants and 2.4% each are attorneys and CPAs.

More than one-third of responding readers said it will not be safe to attend in-person conferences again until sometime in 2022. September 2021 was selected by 12.2% of respondents as being safe to attend in-person conferences again, assuming safety precautions are taken. March, April and May were each selected by 4.9% of readers. And nearly one-in-10 each (9.8%) selected June, July, August and October.

The majority of respondents who chose to leave comments about attending in-person conferences in 2021 said it will depend on the effectiveness of vaccines and vaccine distribution. Several people expressed a belief that businesses have seen the cost savings and ease of hosting conferences virtually and will not return to in-person conferences. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “That’s putting a lot of trust in a lot of people I don’t know… Can you tell I have trust issues?”

A big thank you to all who participated in the survey!


Only after I have been vaccinated. I think it should be a requirement for all attendees.

I already think it is safe if people take precautions. But then, I’ve been a 100% telecommuter for over 10 years now, and I would take most any risk to spend some time out of the house with other people!

Although I’m optimistic about the vaccine and a more normal 2021, I recognize it is going to take time to roll it out to the general public and get enough people vaccinated to make travel worth the risk. There is still so much we don’t know about this virus and the impact it has on our body even if you have no/minor symptoms. The medical field needs time to do more research to understand these impacts and know how to treat.

Concerned about when a vaccine is available and taken by enough people to make going to a conference safe again.

The best safety precaution will be a vaccine, as it doesn’t require ongoing vigilance to stay apart from people, wear a mask, and wash your hands.

To be honest, I am not scared of catching COVID. I chose June not because I think it will be “safe” but for the following reasons: 1) Hopefully the mask mandates will end by then…it is not easy to network with people when you cannot see their facial expressions. 2) I’d prefer not to be quarantined by the health department due to an “exposure”

Even though it will be safe, I am not sure there will be many in-person conferences as businesses have found that they are able to hold these virtually and reach a larger audience at a cheaper cost. I can also see companies reducing budgets to send people to in-person conferences.

I feel that the vaccine rollout will take longer than people expect in addition to the resistance by some to take the vaccine. I do not anticipate attending an in-person conference until 2022. Personally, I would err on the side of being cautious when it comes to traveling for work since it is not required.

I think business travel, as we know it, has changed forever. It is, for the most part, unnecessary and the same functions can be handled virtually. It’s more efficient for everyone and we used the money we saved on travel to add staff. I don’t see that changing in the near term.

I just believe that things will settle down by April. I don’t accept any “new normal” way of thinking. We can take needed precautions but still live our lives.

I really miss in-person conferences. It is a nice break from regular work and the networking opportunities are wonderful. Virtual just isn’t the same. Unfortunately, I probably won’t get to attend another in-person conference, but for a good reason. I expect to retire in 2021! 🙂

Not sure about vaccine’s effectiveness until it is actually out there in mass, only then I will comfortable to travel.

I’ll attend once I can be vaccinated.

If all goes well with vaccine, it sounds like most people will be able to have it by next summer. However, with two doses needed and some time before we are sure of its efficacy, I don’t see any need to travel for work until late 2021 at the earliest.

The pandemic has provided a clear understanding of the cost savings of attending conferences on-line. For organizations that invest in keeping their employees updated on educational opportunities, I am not sure they will invest in travel costs in the future when a clear case has been demonstrated for how this can be done online. Additionally, the reduction in use of fossil fuels benefits our environment. Too many benefits to go back to the old ways for most businesses.

We’ll have to get a majority (>75%) of the population vaccinated in order for it to be effective. I don’t see this happening until at least late 2021.

While a vaccine is on the horizon, distribution will be challenging. I also think there needs to be additional information on how effective it is long term and none of that can be known quickly.

Depends on the effective distribution of a vaccine.

That’s putting a lot of trust in a lot of people I don’t know… Can you tell I have trust issues?

I think it’s about everyone who wants to be vaccinated against Covid can get the vaccine. Then people will generally feel safe.

I did not budget for myself to attend in 2021, so it will likely be March 2022 for me.

The advent of a vaccine doesn’t mean everyone will get one. I will wait to see how the virus is controlled and new cases diminish.


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) or its affiliates.