Q&A with Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce CEO Sue Dick on return of signature conference

From the Tallahassee Democrat

The annual conference hosted by the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce is making a comeback after the COVID-19 pandemic thwarted plans last year to host the signature event.

In just under two months, roughly 500 attendees are expected to attend the much-anticipated event taking place from Aug. 13 to Aug. 15 at the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island.

Chamber President and CEO Sue Dick spoke with the Tallahassee Democrat regarding the conference and what attendees can expect, particularly in light of the pandemic.

Q&A with Sue Dick:

Q: What’s it like planning one of the largest business events for Tallahassee’s community during an ongoing pandemic?

A: When COVID hit our community in 2020, we made the switch to virtual and worked to create interactive, informative sessions that would allow our members and business community to engage and learn.

As businesses and venues began to reopen and vaccines arrived, we moved to small hybrid events that allowed for in-person attendance as well as providing digital access. Over the last few months, we’ve moved into more in-person-only programming and this is how we have been planning for conference.

There are added logistical considerations and details when planning an event of this size. Our team members along with the staff at the host hotel are working hand in hand to ensure a safe environment for those who choose to attend.

We have also maintained constant communications with other Chambers from across the country on best practices.

Strong registration numbers show us that our safe and measured approach is valued and trusted.

Q: What will be the same compared to recent conferences?

A: We believe this year’s conference will be our best yet. The agenda features nationally acclaimed keynote speakers for the general sessions as well as the opportunity for attendees to choose from eight breakout sessions which feature local experts and panelists.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to browse exhibits as well as network with other attendees during different times throughout the weekend.

Q: What will be different as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: There are several protocols in place throughout the conference and within the hotel to help keep our attendees safe and healthy.

Currently, guests are required to wear face coverings in all indoor public spaces (lobby, elevators, hotel room hallways, etc.). There are also several enhancements to the cleaning practice throughout the hotel including the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting high-traffic areas like restrooms and elevators as well as hand-sanitizing stations located throughout the hotel and at the entry to hotel meeting rooms.

Additionally, we will encourage social distancing, associates will wear face coverings, we will reduce the number of people sitting at each table and we will change the layout of some of the event meeting room setups and food and beverage stations.

Q: How many attendees are currently registered for the Conference?

A: As of Wednesday, 491. (Dick said she expects to reach 500.)