As many of you know, last year we hosted the first-ever PFRE Conference at Southpoint Resort, in Las Vegas, Nevada. This was a risky and ambitious venture, but when everything was said and done, we believe that the event was a great success. There was plenty of excitement in Las Vegas with much learning, inspiration, and many new friendships formed. I was also pleased to receive positive feedback on the evaluation forms that were sent out to conference participants.
Like any first time event, there were challenges along the way, but with the thoughtful feedback we received, we felt that we had not only laid the foundation on which to build an annual gathering of real estate photographers, vendors, industry leaders, and like-minded professionals from around the world, but we also had clear direction on what was necessary to create an even better event in 2020.
Well, 2020 is here, and we've seen our world go off the rails a bit with a pandemic that has directly or indirectly affected almost everyone around the globe. Needless to say, given these tumultuous times, we've had to re-think how to move forward with this year's PFRE Conference. We've spent countless hours trying to think this through and have examined many options but no matter how we analyzed it, we could only come up with three potential options.
The first option was to cancel the 2020 event altogether and head back to Vegas in 2021 or, possibly hold off on making any decision and wait until the dust settles. At first, both of these options seemed reasonable. The more we thought about it though, moving forward with our conference--an event devoted to professional development--started making more sense. After all, it seemed to us that we all still need to learn and sharpen our skills and in fact, one of the few benefits of the slowdown in our work, due to the pandemic, is that we were given time to work ON our business, even though we weren't able to work IN our business as much as usual.
The second option was to push forward and hope that the pandemic eased off in time to allow for fall travel. As I'm sure you can appreciate, this option was quickly ruled out after the severity of the pandemic became more clear--especially over the past few weeks during which we've seen a second surge of cases throughout North America, including a significant spike in the US Southwest which of course, includes Las Vegas. Even if the pandemic did ease up a bit, there were way too many unknown variables at play (Would borders be open in time? Would large gatherings even be allowed? Even if they were to be permitted, would people feel comfortable traveling and gathering in large groups? What changes would be made to air travel? At what cost? What would the liabilities be to hosts, vendors, attendees, etc.?). We can tell you that while we're still very much committed to returning to Las Vegas to hold an in-person event, we can only do so when it's safe and responsible for our staff and attendees. That being said, moving forward with an in-person event this November just didn't make sense.
With these first two ideas off the table, we began to look at alternative options. So, with PFRE's ongoing commitment to professional development being front of mind, we're excited to announce that we will be taking the 2020 PFRE Conference online!
Over the past few months, we've spoken to some very bright people in the area of online education. The more that we talked to them, the more we realized that it was possible to create an amazing online experience that would keep the momentum going from our first conference, while also becoming a complement to future in-person events. In our conversations with these industry leaders, we've been increasingly encouraged that we can come together as a community, in a virtual format.
Our encouragement and excitement intensified when reaching out to folks who we thought would make great speakers/presenters, and we've been blown away by their enthusiasm to get involved! We already have a great list of presenters lined up and we will continue to build out the roster as time goes on. While we're not in a position to share details just yet, it's important to us to give you all as much advanced notice as possible.
We're confident that our virtual format will allow PFRE to reach more people and create even more networking opportunities, all while making it very affordable for anyone who wants to participate.
What we can tell you about the PFRE Virtual Conference is that its focus will be more on the inner workings and tactics of how to improve one's real estate photography while strengthening one's businesses processes.
The spirit behind PFRE's inaugural conference was more focused on inspiration and bringing the community together in person. We had some of the most notable figures in our industry speaking at the event, and I think it really hit the mark in this regard.
One of the consistent bits of feedback that we received was that there was an interest for more technical, hands-on learning that could be used in one's day-to-day work. I'm very confident that anyone who registers for this year's event will see this "hands-on" approach. In fact, one of the things that most excites me about an online event is that by going virtual, we literally open up a world of possibilities, as time zones and borders are no longer an issue. Therefore, we can have more presenters covering more topics, and we can dig deeper into the technical aspects of our business such as gear, lighting, editing, branding, composition, pricing, video, legal/copyright, marketing, SEO, portfolio review, drone/aerial, color correction, and more.
There is a ton of work to do but it is well underway and I can't wait to share updates as things progress! In the meantime, if there are people in our industry whom you would like to see as presenters for this year's event and/or any specific topics that you'd like to see covered, please leave your suggestions in the comments section!