After a year-and-a-half of mostly conducting business by way of Zoom calls, webinars and an endless flow of digital notifications, insurance professionals and entrepreneurs were eager to see one another in person at InsureTech Connect 2021.

Hugs and handshakes were abound during the Oct. 4-6 event, held at the cavernous Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. ITC was one of a number of major insurance conferences to return to an in-person or hybrid format over the last several months, joining Global Insurance Symposium, the Combined Claims Conference and others.

One change from before the pandemic: As per Las Vegas regulations, people were required to wear masks for indoor public spaces. ITC attendees in Vegas also had to attest that they were vaccinated for COVID-19.

Still, about 6,000 people attended in person, as insurance executives, entrepreneurs and tech-savvy investors converged to network and learn of the latest trends in InsurTech.

ITC featured workshops, dozens of forums and a lively exhibition floor. For those who couldn’t attend in person, the conference included a digital element with live and recorded streams of forum discussions.

Jay Weintraub, CEO of Connectiv, an organizer of ITC, said it was hard to remember a more excited and engaged group of attendees.

“I believe those who attended this year were among the best we have ever had,” Weintraub said.

Weintraub, an ITC co-founder, said that outside of the conference’s first year, it’s hard to remember a more excited or engaged group.

“We knew that people were looking forward to meeting again. We did not expect the number of people who reached out to us during and after the event to say thank you for making ITC in-person this year,” Weintraub said.

For Keith Wolfe, President of U.S. Property & Casualty at Swiss Re, attending ITC was nothing short of “pandemonium.”

“It’s a lot of running around, but it feels good,” Wolfe said. “I’ve realized there’s some people I literally have now seen that I haven’t seen in two years — from my own organization.”

Eileen Potter, Solutions Marketing Manager at ABBYY, a data intelligence company that enables agencies to automate their business, said it was amazing to reconvene with friends she’s made during her 25 years in insurance.

“I feel pretty proud of the insurance industry and what we’ve been able to accomplish virtually, but there really is nothing like seeing people face-to-face, even if we’re masked up a good bit of the time,” Potter said.

Tony Grosso, Chief Marketing for EIS, a core administrative software platform for insurance companies, said the company has seen plenty of lead generation from hosting webinars but has struggled to turn digital engagement into sales. Attending ITC allowed Grosso to develop personal relationships with potential customers that have been missing.

“Really that intimacy that I’m looking for is the brand awareness for sure, but also able to have conversations, understand the customer’s pain points, what they’re trying to achieve, and help me explain what we do and see if there’s a match,” Grosso said.

Angela Klett, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development at Nationwide, relies on in-person events like ITC to build trust in prospective partners.

“It helps really to understand where people are coming from if you’re in a negotiation, and a lot of the venture investments that we make come from conferences like this.”

ITC Vegas will return to Mandalay Bay Sept. 20-22, 2022.

*Carrier Management Editor Mark Hollmer contributed to this report and took the photos.