The ALISE Board of Directors has made the decision to transition this year’s conference into a fully virtual format. The Board considered this decision over a number of months and meetings, holding conversations with the ALISE Conference Program Planning Committee co-chairs and with the staff. We also conducted a survey of the membership and prior year conference attendees to inform this decision. The feedback from all parties made it clear that while the vaccination rate is increasing by the week, concerns over health and safety remain, thus driving our decision to hold a virtual conference in 2021. Another important consideration in the decision is the potential travel restrictions for those outside of the United States, which would make it difficult to speak at or attend the in-person conference in Milwaukee, WI. As ALISE seeks to increase our representation of members and speakers outside of the United States and Canada, as noted in our 2021-2025 Strategic Plan, these travel restrictions present a challenge that are completely outside of our control or influence. Ultimately, the decision to deliver the 2021 annual conference in a virtual format was the moral and ethical decision to make.
As we have all learned over the last 15 months, virtual events do present a number of opportunities that we would not have previously realized with strictly in-person events. One of the positive outcomes is the ability for people to attend the conference from across the globe. This virtual event will make it possible for attendees to collaborate virtually with peers from around the world. In addition, virtual events offer savings in time and travel costs, which is particularly important during a time when institutions may not be covering funding for conference attendance travel. Additional plusses for virtual events include increased accessibility, less impact on the environment, and the ability to attend more sessions or view content on-demand during or after the live event.
The ALISE Conference Program Planning Committee and staff have reviewed the feedback from the 2020 virtual conference, both positive and negative, and have been working diligently to identify a virtual event platform that will best meet our needs and expectations. ALISE will offer attendees the opportunity to meet new colleagues and engage in formal and informal networking with the potential to form career and research alliances. Once a platform is selected and the agenda finalized, we’ll share details on the virtual networking events and provide tips and articles on how to successfully network in a virtual setting.
As the schedule is developed, many factors are being taken into consideration to provide for an optimal virtual conference experience. The conference will still be held over the same week that had been originally planned, September 20-24, 2021. All sessions and events will be recorded, and registrants will be able to view presentations on-demand, after the conference. To allow for attendee and speaker interaction, the program will offer live Q&A.
As we continue to review the call for paper submissions, we want to assure all submitters that they will be notified of their status on time. We will work closely with all accepted speakers to ensure they have full confidence in presenting in a virtual format.
We will be announcing the virtual conference registration rates soon and registration is scheduled to open by June 1st. The virtual conference registration fees will be less than our usual in-person registration rates, with reductions ranging from approximately 20-57% based on the registration type.
Although a virtual conference allows for some cost savings as compared to an in-person event, production of a virtual conference requires specific technology and production support. The conference registration fees and the generous support of our sponsors, exhibitors, and advertisers not only address the costs involved with the conference production, but also support ALISE’s annual budget, as the ALISE Annual Conference provides a majority of the association’s annual revenue. The revenue earned as part of the annual conference provides funding for ALISE’s member benefits; publications, including JELIS and the ALISE Statistical Reports; webinars; and general operations. As a Board, we are charged with being stewards of ALISE and its financial assets. The Board-approved budget and registration rates allow ALISE to offer significant discounts for those attending the virtual conference, while also ensuring ALISE’s sustainability as an association. Ultimately, our plan allows ALISE to fulfill its mission as the global leader in education for the information professions.
We are excited to present to you the sessions and events that the ALISE Annual Conference normally offers each year, just within a virtually setting! We hope you join us this September!