The return to in-person academic conferences in Canada in 2023 after nearly two years at a distance is sure to be a wholesome mix of excitement to feign normalcy, as well as outright apprehension as discussion groups, buffets, and one-on-one networking sessions, are reintroduced.
For those in the academic world, if you haven’t hit the conferencing circuit yet, this article will help you prepare yourself for what are in store for you at all the biggest international conferences in Canada 2023.
- Traveling To Conference Venues
No more socially distanced planes, trains, and buses. Both availability and seating have mostly returned to pre-pandemic levels. Conference-goers must prepare to embrace middle seats, longer lines at airport security lines, and the growing hustle and bustle. Conference-goers will also find the flights eerily similar to how they felt before the onset of the pandemic.
What are the main differences?
- Masks are mandatory, and people are more visibly nervous.
- Planes seem and feel immaculate, which is what most people hope will continue well after the pandemic is well and truly finished.
- Hotels & Accommodation
Checking into hotels, once a mundane task will feel somewhat different with increased customer service and enthusiastic reciprocal of appreciation. While masks are still used in conference rooms, many floor stickers and plastic partitions are no longer used during hotel registration.
That said, while it’s all a matter of personal preference, here are some things that conference-goers might wish to inform themselves about before choosing the right accommodation for a conference.
In some hotels, cleaning is no longer a daily service (or sometimes even offered). Those conference-goers for whom turndown service is important should request it directly. For items like clean towels or trash service, these usually happen at a minimum on demand, as needed. Each hotel varies, however, so conference-goers should enquire before proceeding and also prepare for differences in their conference experience.
- Room Service
Many hotels have removed the majority of paperwork and guarantees that once sat on the bedside and in desk drawers. Those conference-goers who plan to use room service for morning coffee or a late dinner should make it a point to ask if room service is available and, if so, how the menu can be accessed.
- Other Amenities
Conference-goers should expect changes in the hours of operation or even the availability of seemingly standard hotel amenities, including spas, gift shops, fitness centers/gyms, on-premises restaurants, pools, etc. They should also always make sure to ask for status at check-in if these are services they traditionally use during their hotel stays.
- Conference Registrations
This step could prove to be the most confusing for conference attendees, especially if the conference requires participants to exhibit any proof of vaccination before registration. Although there are numerous mobile apps that make it pretty easy to upload screenshots of vaccination certificates and other personal data, once they’re at the conference venue, conference-goers will find this is an extra step that they have to surpass before being allowed to register themselves.
Before they arrive, conference attendees should pay attention to the conference communications they receive ahead of the start of the event. Chances are they’ll receive detailed instructions on how to make sure they’re up to date every step of the way. If they’re lagging behind, their conference check-in experience will be more complicated than necessary.
For the sake of awareness, conference-goers should rest assured these are not difficult steps, but they are new, different, and additional. And, if they’re not caught when they arrive, conference-goers will find these steps to be more cumbersome and confusing than necessary.
- Presenting At Upcoming Conferences
For large conferences, the ballroom for general sessions and keynote addresses may look the same as before Covid-19, but although masks are often required at the entrance, chairs are generally now socially distanced, which allows participants to remove their masks during the sessions.
To confirm this, it is important to ask the conference admins or volunteers on-site or to read up on information displayed on the conference website before arriving.
- Breaks Between Sessions & The Sessions Themselves At Upcoming Conferences
Since many conferences require proof of vaccination for attendance, masks are often removed in conference rooms. Water, coffee, and tea services, as well as snack bars and fruit, will return to conferences. However, those conference-goers who have specific dietary needs or need snacks throughout the day should fill their tote bag with a few snackable items, energy bars, and a bottle of refillable water. Although snacks are returning to international conferences, they are not guaranteed for every conference.
- Dining At Upcoming Conferences
This isn’t for every upcoming conference in Canada in 2023, but conference-goers shouldn’t be surprised when they walk into the lobby and see buffets or even several buffets. The conference meals at future conferences will involve more stations to keep lines shorter with fewer gathering opportunities.
In the larger ballrooms, the seats are again close together, but attendees will notice that many participants leave a chair between people who are not part of their group. Buffets are to be enjoyed, but it’s a good idea to stay diligent about hand washing and using hand sanitizer throughout these experiences shared with the masses.
- Networking & Participating In Social Events
Conference sponsors are investing more than ever in creating covid-safe experiences for participants to mix, network, and develop professional relationships with their peers and others. Those attendees who can attend must make sure not to miss out on them, but not be surprised if, after close to two years of being in isolation, the excitement is quickly offset by exhaustion. Conference-goers should relax on their first conference and return to their rooms to unwind.
- Interacting With Peers, Vendors, & Superiors
Interestingly, particularly for conferences that require submission of proof of vaccinations and current health status through something like a mobile verification app, many of the more intimate academic conferencing dinners allow guests to be without a mask throughout meals. For smaller engagements, attendees should just ask the host if they are unsure of the protocol. “Is the mark required or not?” promises to be a query that will become a mainstay amongst travelers, conference-goers, and all people attending functions, celebrations, dinners, or any other type of event, in the future.
- Aspects Of Significance (Worth Being Aware Of)
Conference-goers should recognize that people are anxious and probably aren’t entirely themselves (unless they are), so they’re sure to see loud complaints, visible frustrations, and heightened responses in the most basic situations. So, detailed below are some tips to help conference-goers be prepared to take on upcoming conferences like absolute pros –
- Packing Everything Of Need
Attendees should bring everything they might need. Staffing and supply chain issues impact everything, including all facets of travel. If it’s allergy season and attendees anticipate needing tissues, they should bring them along as chances are the simplest items will be out of stock at airport newsstands, shops, and hotels.
- Carrying Out Thorough Research
In order to eliminate frustration before it happens, conference attendees should research –
- hotel and conference venue safety guidelines,
- mandatory masking requirements,
- as well as the hours of operation for everything.
- Controlling Emotions & Responses
Conference-goers should make an active effort to manage their responses because now more than ever, at academic conferences, tolerance, grace, and adaptability are crucial. A good dose of ignorance of seemingly egregious behaviors contributes greatly to a wholesome and enjoyable travel experience.
- Being Appreciative
Every person working in the service industry has been on the wrong side of a grumpy traveler. Conference-goers should remember to be the light by remaining grateful and express their appreciation for the services they have received, as no service is too small during this unprecedented time in history.
- Remaining Mindful
Nothing is as essential as getting home safely, so conference-goers should stay diligent, keep their mental balance, drink fluids and rest as much as they can.
- Post Conferencing
Once home, there will be a big sigh of relief for conference-goers. But also, a week to ten days of lingering, they’re bound to fear wondering if they had caught anything on the way back. This is perfectly normal. In fact, most people think these very thoughts daily every time they come home from anywhere, be it work, the mall, a restaurant, the grocery store, or otherwise. This is kind of the new normal, so conference-goers should embrace this and not let their emotions get too far ahead of themselves.