We Meet Again: Insurers Return to the Public Space
In what may be an indicator, the Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association held its Annual Marketplace in person in November—and the San Diego event drew its second-highest turnout ever. Many organizers are planning for an in-person component to their meetings in 2022.
- Kim Bjorheim
- January 2022
The WSIA Annual Marketplace
Brady R. Kelley, WSIA executive director, wears a green wristband to signal that he is ready for handshakes at the conference. Kelley said that more than 4,500 people attended the conference in person. While that number is down slightly from the 5,049 attendees in 2019, the 2021 conference ranks only second behind the 2019 conference in most attendees ever for the annual event. Kelley said that the high number of attendees surprised him considering the circumstances. “I think that's a sign that the members are super enthused to be together and the market is doing pretty well.”
Conference organizers provided color-coded wristbands for attendees to signal their individual comfort levels with physical contact and social distancing.
Brenda (Ballard) Austenfeld, managing director, RT Specialty, and treasurer, WSIA board of directors, is interviewed by AM Best TV's John Weber. (Ballard) Austenfeld said that much planning and thought went into how to safely handle a large gathering. “We're thrilled to be here, we're so excited that all the precautions were taken and we look forward to the next one,” she said.
The conference had to comply with California law, which requires proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival. Both vaccination verification and COVID-19 tests were handled on-site as part of the registration process for the conference.
The WSIA Annual Marketplace was held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt and Marriott Marquis San Diego. The outdoor space between the two adjacent hotels provided multiple meeting spaces and also was the location for the tent housing the conference registration and on-site vaccine verification.
Two conference attendees hug while a masked hotel staffer replaces a bottle of hand sanitizer on a conference table in the background. Face masks were optional for guests and most conference attendees chose not to wear them. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test was required for all conference attendees.