CHICAGO, IL—The National Association of Realtors® announced Wednesday that the 2020 REALTORS® Conference & Expo, previously scheduled from November 13-16 in New Orleans, will be transitioned to a fully virtual format in light of ongoing health and safety concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. NAR completed the first-ever virtual iteration of its Legislative Meetings from May 12-14, where 28,000 participating Realtors® nearly tripled the annual conference’s average attendance.
“Uncertainty has in many ways defined 2020. While positive indicators begin to show our economy is rebounding and treatment options for COVID-19 are proving more effective, so much remains unknown about this virus and the circumstances we will face as a nation come this fall,” said NAR President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co., Inc., in San Francisco, CA. “In order to prioritize the health and safety of our members, staff and sponsors, NAR looks forward to hosting a fully virtual REALTORS® Conference & Expo this November.
“Coming off the success and record-breaking participation of our Legislative Meetings, we’re confident that this format will ensure the widest reach possible, providing more accessible and affordable participation opportunities for all of our 1.4 million Realtor® members.”
Late last month NAR’s research group conducted multiple surveys to gauge member and association staff’s willingness to attend an in-person conference this November. More than two thirds, or 67%, of members emerged as “net detractors” when asked about their willingness to travel to New Orleans. In the survey, which was sent via email to 55,223 NAR members and generated 4,135 unique responses, these detractors noted lingering safety concerns when traveling, their expectation to still be avoiding crowds in November, and the unlikelihood of a vaccine being available by that time.
“While maintaining our primary focus on the safety and wellbeing of our members, NAR has used the circumstances surrounding this pandemic to consider how we can evolve and better prepare for the markets of the future,” said NAR CEO Bob Goldberg. “Decades of investments in technology and a commitment to organizational growth allowed NAR to execute an overwhelmingly effective and fully virtual legislative conference in May, and we’re excited to build on that experience to provide an even more productive and engaging virtual Conference & Expo this November.”
NAR will announce more details, including registration information, in the coming weeks. The virtual format will allow NAR’s full organizational governance processes to proceed as normal during the conference, which will also include relevant speakers, energizing live-streamed content, networking opportunities and an industry expo.