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Chapter Conventions Conference Call Transcript about Coronavirus Impact

Posted by Frank Augustosky on 03/18/20

UPMA Chapter Presidents,

Thank you all for getting on the telecom and allowing me some of your valuable time to discuss an issue that I don’t believe any of us ever thought we would be facing.    

I wish that I could wave a magic wand, or that God would immediately answer my prayers to make this all go away, but I don’t have a magic wand and unfortunately from my human brain standpoint God doesn’t work as fast as I would like and since He is in control and will cause things to happen when He believes the time is right and it needs to be done we just need to move forward under the current conditions.

So, with all of that said, since the Coronavirus is here at the present time and given the fact that none of the experts are really able to give us a definitive timeline as to when the pandemic may go away, or at least slow down enough to allow us to resume our normal operations, we need to tackle the issue of our upcoming chapter conventions as best we can.

Hopefully all of you have seen the email I sent out earlier today, or the posting on the website, or the postings on Facebook regarding the indefinite postponement of the Chapter Member Representative (CMR) Academies.    I was really saddened to have to take this action but for the safety and security of our members and the people our members might come into contact with I felt I had no other choice.   As I stated in my email, the two academies that we were able to conduct were very well received and the materials covered have, from the evaluation forms we received, indicated it will have a positive effect on our CMR program and ultimately our Adverse Action Program going forward.    Thank you to all that attended and to John Sertich and the attorneys that attended for sharing their expertise and knowledge with our people.   We WILL get the two other sessions scheduled at some point down the road.

Today Gerri Swarm and I have been in communication with the corporate people from Marriott International and the sales and catering people at the Marriott Grand in St. Louis to see if there was any way we could postpone the start of the National Convention to allow the dust to settle a little more and to get us clearly through what President Trump and Dr. Fauchi from the National Institute of Health are saying may not end until sometime in July, or August.    The reason I was seeking that information was to give our members more time to get past what will hopefully be the worst of this pandemic and also to allow those of you that may be looking at moving your convention dates more time to get those plans made and the plans put into motion.

Unfortunately, they are not able to accommodate any change in date at this time, so we will plan to go forward with the National Convention taking place from August 1-7, 2020.  

Now, the one thing that is not an option is for you not to have a chapter convention.   Whether that convention format be what you are normally used to doing, or if you need to scale it back in some way that is up to you.   The bottom line is all 52 chapters need to have a convention before the National Convention in St. Louis.

First and foremost, look at the decisions being made by the governor of you state, or Commonwealth, and what the local officials are saying in the area where you are having your convention to help determine what you will do going forward.   Do the restrictions on meeting size prohibit you from going forward?   If not, poll your membership, especially those that may attend the convention (or, that are already registered) to get a feeling from them if they are comfortable coming to the convention at this time.  Or, would they prefer to have you postpone it if at all possible.    If they are comfortable attending, then it is up to you as the president and working with the Executive Board of your chapter as to how you feel you want to go ahead with the planning and implementation of those plans.   Speaking for myself, at this time, if you have the convention and I am scheduled to attend, I will be there.   However, we will work through this on a case by case basis.  I obviously cannot speak for all the members of the executive board.    We will need to work with them individually as we move through this to determine who will be in attendance.

If you are unable, for whatever reason, to go forward with your convention at this time, please reach out to me, or Gerri, at the national office and we will help you work through the process.    After some discussion, perhaps we can assist you in looking at some alternatives and may be able to come up with something that you just had not thought of before.   Again, I think we just need to do that on a one-on-one basis rather than work on it a group setting like this.  

 If you are having trouble modifying contracts, etc., Gerri has stated she is more than willing to help with that.   Many times, if we help the hotels (especially the larger companies) take a look at the amount of business we as an organization do with them on an annual basis, they are going to likely be more forgiving in allowing you to make changes.   

Again, If you find you must change your convention date, please work through me and Gerri to get that accomplished and to make sure that we are kept in the loop on what is going on.    We will help you communicate with whichever Executive Board member is assigned to your chapter convention to make necessary changes as we go along.    My goal is to make this as painless as it can possibly be for everyone involved, although I am not naïve enough to believe that there will not be issues now, or in the future.

Thank you for your time and now I will open the floor up to anyone that may have a question.

Hearing no further questions I want to once again thank you for getting on the telecom tonight and I look forward to working through this with you so that we can all do what is best for our membership at this time.       

Daniel Heins
National President