InsureTech Connect has postponed its annual (now virtual) fall conference by one month, four days before it was scheduled to go live.

ITC, which produces one of the world’s largest insurance technology conferences, will now run from Oct. 19- Oct. 21, rather than the originally scheduled Sept. 21-Sept. 23. The reason for the change: to give virtual attendees more time to sign up for virtual networking opportunities.

“With more time comes better connections,” ITC co-founder and CEO Jay Weintraub told Carrier Management via email. “With more connections comes the outcomes we all want to see.”

COVID Challenges

Like most organizations that produce annual events and conferences, ITC has had a challenging 2020 thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced organizations to postpone or cancel their gatherings, or shift them online.

In July, ITC took the online route. The group announced it would turn its annual Las Vegas production into a month-long virtual extravaganza. Its ITC World Tour has included various events online from Sept. 1 to Sept. 18, and those have run as scheduled. In place of the annual conference itself, ITC has planned ITC Global, dubbed a “24-Hours a Day Immersive Experience.”

ITC Global has attracted significant interest. According to Weintraub, 9,127 people signed up as of this week, well beyond the 7,000 attendees who took part in the 2019 conference in Las Vegas.

“Were it just about eyeballs on sessions, we were in great shape,” Weintraub said.

Planning for Virtual Networking

In triggering the one-month delay, the decision stemmed from a focus on previous years’ networking data.

Weintraub said that ITC analyzed meeting [networking] request data from 2017, which came in low, and 2018, which produced higher numbers, to calculate if participants had proper time to sign up for this year’s virtual version.

“What we saw was total meeting request volume per registrant was lower and accepted meeting percentages were lower,” Weintraub said. “It is fair to say other factors also influenced this, but combined with anecdotal information we came away believing that the differences were in large part because of when we opened networking.”

The other element has involved translating data from personal meetings into what the needs are for virtual networking opportunities.

“In person, the same number of conversations may have still taken place on average between 2017 and 2018 because people were physically together and able to make the conversations happen. In the virtual world, the tech layer is all they have,” Weintraub said. “Similarly, it is very possible the same number of conversations would take place this year given the various interaction elements built into the platform—e.g., chat and video conferencing capabilities—had we not postponed. But given that we are entrusted this opportunity to play our part for the industry, we felt it best to try and set people up for success as best as possible.”

In other words, as Weintraub summarized: “People need time, more than we had given them.”