The 2020 Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo will be a virtual event this year, hosted online as opposed to an in-person gathering, organizers announced Wednesday, July 1.
The online event is still set to take place Nov. 2-5, 2020 as originally planned for the physical expo.
The National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) announced the 2020 Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo (OHCE) will be presented virtually in response to health concerns related to the COVID pandemic this week. According to the ARVC, the decision was announced following a vote by the ARVC Board of Directors.
“By nature, campground owners, operators and staff thrive on human contact—a major factor in the consideration when determining the option of an in-person event, but ultimately, the current and potential risks and concerns associated with the COVID pandemic, combined with member feedback from two recent surveys, led to this decision,” said Paul Bambei, president and CEO of ARVC. “Additionally, many of the features ARVC contracted with the host hotel and convention center would be severely limited or unavailable, creating an in-person atmosphere that was not optimal.”
ARVC leaders said they are excited about the unique possibilities that using a “state-of-the-art platform” for a virtual OHCE will offer both attendees and supplier vendors.
“The ARVC team is confident we can produce a unique virtual event that will rival any previous OHCE—an event that will be remembered for years to come as a responsible alternative in the age of COVID and a unique and positive experience for our industry,” Bambei said. “Our team has literally hit the ground running and is already planning to make this year’s event an experience that attendees will find extremely valuable. From listening to our members, it seems there is a wide variety of experiences with virtual events—some good, some not so good. I strongly believe that after attendees experience OHCE2020, the perception of virtual events will be forever changed.”
ARVC is working with Conference Direct, a conference technology company, and is looking forward to exploring the options and tools available, the association announced.
OHCE2020, originally planned to be held in Daytona Beach, Fla., is typically a four-day event, including more than 40 educational seminars, a trade show with more than 120 vendors, tours of local campgrounds, ARVC’s Awards of Excellence program and more.
“People are craving experiences more than ever, and campground owners and operators need to know how to provide that peaceful feeling of escapism while creating the safest atmosphere possible,” said Paula Horwitz, ARVC executive director of education and events. “Just like we would have at an in-person OHCE, our expert speaker lineup at this year’s virtual event will provide engaging learning opportunities designed to provide the instructions and insights campground owners, managers and their employees need to take their campground to the next level.”
The ARVC said the virtual event will decrease costs for both attendees and organizers, as registration and participation fees will be adjusted. The organization is hopeful that more people than traditionally expected will be able to participate in the online format.
“We are excited to be able to bring OHCE right into your office, living room or wherever you learn best, and focus on making this year’s event the best ever,” Horwitz said. “One of the key hurdles to any in-person event is that folks have to travel, so now that we are making this event virtual we can reach a larger audience and allow even more interested attendees to join us in learning and networking.”
More details on the event will be announced soon, including instructions on how to register for the virtual OHCE2020 event. If a person or company had previously registered for the in-person event, please contact the ARVC events department at 303-681-0401.
“We will be making a series of announcements in the coming days and weeks that I believe will have you sharing in our excitement,” Bambei said. “From fully interactive and engaging education sessions (not just listening to talking heads) to unique and entertaining networking events and innovative ways for everyone to access it all, ARVC has a plan in the works for an event unlike anything our industry has ever seen or experienced.”
Last year ARVC reworked thr OHCE to include an improved Welcome Reception, Takeaway Tours, Paws for A Break puppy cuddling stations, membership awards luncheon, reservation management panel, a bingo card to incentivize expo booth visits, interactive Campfire Sessions during the expo and more, to create a unique OHCE experience. Going to a virtual platform will force ARVC to innovate even more new ways to create memorable social moments for our attendees.
“Necessity is the mother of invention, so this is an opportunity for us to use new avenues and technology to create amazing ways to entertain and interact with our attendees. We are sure we will find creative and fun ways to blow your minds,” Horwitz said. “As our move to a virtual conference proves, what worked seven months ago may be obsolete now, so you need to adjust your thinking to survive and thrive.”