Disclaimer: You will notice in this post I probably have way more questions than I do insight. 

Scenario OF THE DAY

You are a conference planner and have been postponing conferences for your clients from 2020 until 2021 with the notion that a vaccine would make meeting face-to-face possible.    There now appears to be a vaccine that will start to be distributed in the early part of 2021, how does this impact how you plan your 2021 events?

As a seasoned planner, I am used to answering questions regarding new registration platforms, trends in food and beverage and how we stretch a budget to include 100 more attendees.  Over this last year, the questions have all changed; now we offer solutions to contract terms in venue contracts, how to serve food in a safe way and explain how to hold hybrid meetings.  Always with the same consensus, once there is a vaccine this can all get back to “normal”.  (Using the world “normal” these days very loosely.)

Well over the last few weeks we have seen a handful of pharmaceutical companies announce that their Covid-19 vaccine is having success…a vaccine to combat the symptoms of this worldwide pandemic.  Soooooooo now what…Are you going to get in line to receive it…how about your company, are they going to mandate you have it in order to return to the office?  And the larger question for meeting organizers…can we mandate our attendees have the vaccine before they come to our conference?


Head spinning yet?

Well I tackled the easiest of all those questions, can your company mandate you receive the vaccine to go back into the office?

I did my research, and it is legal for companies to mandate having the vaccine to come back to the office, with a few modifications for religious and health reasons, so the answer is YES, they can. 

You can find out more in the articles linked here:

“Why the US president can’t mandate a Covid-19 vaccine”

“Can Employers Force Their Employees to Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine?”

“Can your employer require you to take a COVID-19 vaccine?”


Now back to hospitality

Are conferences going to go the route of asking attendees to have the vaccine?  If so, is this going to be another step in the registration process?  But the bigger question, is this even legal? 

Another observation, the vaccine is out for distribution, some may choose to get it, some may not, how long after the start of vaccine distribution do we still require facemasks and social distancing during our face-to-face events?  Will there be recommendations/mandates or rules and regulations in place, as there are now, on what we can and cannot do at face-to-face events even with vaccines in place.

And let’s not forget, if we ask our attendees to have the vaccine do, we ask our venues to prove their staff has had the vaccine?

I think I need another cup of coffee!

In conclusion, as planners, we advise our clients on many different things but the new topic on the Pandemic Horizon is “Does an entity hosting a conference have the ability to require face-to-face attendees have a vaccine?”

Look forward to reading your comments and thoughts below.

1 Comment

Jenny Needham · November 30, 2020 at 10:13 pm

Great insight into a topic that is going to b pecoming more prevelent in the industry. Outcomes and next steps will be interesting to see once we have more information on a vaccine. Thank you for this update and I look forward to seeing what comes next.

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