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The IPMS/USA Executive Board and the 2020 National Convention Planning Committee are still moving forward with planning and on-time execution of the 2020 convention. We are well aware of the plethora of challenges ahead of us in the next 90 days. There are many more unknowns than "knowns" at the moment. However, with the facts on-hand we feel the convention can still be held.

The #1 consideration in planning is the health and well-being of all of our members. Some of you have reached out to me stating that since you are in a high-risk age or health group you are not willing to risk being exposed to COVID-19. We fully understand this and agree that if you are in a high-risk category, we feel that you are probably better off not coming even if all restrictions are lifted by late July.

I have read many opinions on public forums over the past several weeks regarding the status of this summer’s convention. As a convention planner, the biggest item I pay attention to is the contract that IPMS/USA committed to with the hosting hotel, Embassy Suites, and their parent company, Atrium Hospitality. These contracts are generally written in favor of the hotel, i.e., the financial burden is on the guest (IPMS/USA) to produce the numbers expected for the hotel to make a profit. We could have balked at the contract when it was presented in 2018 but then the week we picked would have went to the next organization looking to host a convention. In other words, we have to play by the hospitality industry’s rules. If IPMS/USA were to back out of the contract without cause the financial burden on our society would be very substantial. Luckily, Embassy Suites in San Marcos is fully aware of the current COVID-19 situation - and in fact they are taking it in the shorts like all other hotels around the country - and have verbally agreed to work with us to execute a successful convention regardless of the contract language. This is good news for IPMS/USA. I am committed to working with Embassy Suites since they have been so good in working with us during the past couple of years to make our show a success.

The biggest wild card that both the General Manager (of Embassy Suites) and I see at the moment are government-imposed restrictions on crowd sizes and public gatherings. This is the biggest factor we are keeping an eye on and is what will eventually dictate if we are FORCED to cancel. If there are public gathering restrictions or reductions in maximum occupancy rules in the local city and county, we will assess if we can still execute a convention based on the details of potential restrictions. AS OF RIGHT NOW THERE ARE NO RESTRICTIONS EXTENDING TO THE DATES OF THE CONVENTION. There may be many opinions and conjecture regarding restrictions in-place during the convention but as of today, they remain conjecture. I am not planning a convention based on conjecture and opinion…only facts.

A lot of what the committee will plan in the coming months will be based on the numbers we see for pre-registrations and other convention related purchases. If we see low numbers - like we are seeing so far - we will scale back what we are spending money on. I have no more details on this other than we are looking at options that may produce a smaller-size convention than others in the past. It pains me to plan this way because I think I am the most excited IPMS member regarding this convention but I have to face the reality of what is happening in the world today. It’s not fair but it is happening. We will deal with it.

Refunds: If you have spent money so far or if you want to spend money registering in the short-term be assured that IPMS/USA will refund any money if we are FORCED to cancel due to the public gathering restrictions I mention above.

Unfortunately, there remain many more questions than we have answers for at the moment. I wish I had a crystal ball that could tell me/us exactly what the conditions on the ground will be this summer...but I don’t…the team has to plan with the best information it has at the moment. This is what we will do.

I stand by to answer any questions any one of our members have regarding the 2020 convention. Please e-mail me at: [email protected]

Best Regards

 

Len Pilhofer – IPMS# 49932

Director, IPMS/USA National Convention 2020

www.nats2020.com

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Is there any chance it could simply be postponed until next year? This what the Santa Fe Railway Historical & Modeling Society have done. Their 2020 convention, which was to have been held in Albuquerque in late June, will now be held there next year.

I note too, that IPMS North Central Texas has cancelled ScaleFest, which was to have been June 6.

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The 2021 Convention is already awarded to Las Vegas. I don't  think we want two National Conventions in one year. 

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Move the next 3 conventions back one year, Texas next year, Las Vegas 2022 and Omaha 2023.

 

Mike

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There is already a contract in place with Vegas for 2021.   If not a contract, there is likely some agreement with Omaha for 2022.  How good are the IPMS’s lawyers?

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Both have contracts, so we would be wrangling with three different hotels, a mess that not many would want to get into. 

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Good point Ed. The legal ramifications and fiduciary issues are readily apparent. Taking Len Philhofer’s COVID-19 report,  I may have to bow of the Nats out due to a weaker heart problem (atrial fibrillation) which I cannot at this time, reschedule a future surgery at this time to correct it. The past results from this condition have left my immune system more vulnerable, and near 70 years of age my recovery is not all that great, unfortunately. Stay safe everyone.

Best regards,

Mark

 

 

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9 hours ago, MRechlicz said:

Move the next 3 conventions back one year, Texas next year, Las Vegas 2022 and Omaha 2023.

 

Mike

A great idea.

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1 hour ago, SkyKing said:

A great idea.

Unfortunately this is a lot harder done than said.  Each convention should have signed contracts for their set dates.  And to even begin, to assume that each facility has the same/similar dates the following years that are available, etc.

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6 hours ago, gkwan99 said:

Unfortunately this is a lot harder done than said.  Each convention should have signed contracts for their set dates.  And to even begin, to assume that each facility has the same/similar dates the following years that are available, etc.

Well, there’s no harm in trying.

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Earlier in the year, Len had asked anyone cancelling hotel reservations in the Embassy Suites to contact him so he could give the reservation to someone else.  I emailed him directly on the subject but have not heard back from him.  I would bet he is swamped but I could use an answer.  I want to give the hotel appropriate notification so that they can fill the room, but would rather have a prime room go to another IPMS member if they want it. 

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On 4/27/2020 at 10:14 AM, EFGrune said:

There is already a contract in place with Vegas for 2021.   If not a contract, there is likely some agreement with Omaha for 2022.  How good are the IPMS’s lawyers?

Another idea:  Instead of trying to change three convention dates and contracts, just change one.  Leave Vegas and Omaha as they are.  If 2020 gets cancelled, move it to 2023.  If the hotel is forced to cancel 2020, that gets us off the hook in San Marcos.   That “ get out of  contract free” card is only applicable this year, so can’t be played in 2021 and 2022.  We keep those dates and contracts, and are free to sign a new one in 2023.

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I have so many variables in play with this event but Scale Aviation Modeller will do out best to support our 22nd US Nationals in San Marcos.

1. The obvious one is will it go ahead and at this time no one can say what the situation will be in two and a half months.I wonder if there is a cut off date for a decision?

2. Can I get there, I was booked in to fly from Heathrow to Austin but that flight has been cancelled till at least the end of June and will probably will be longer as Austin is not an entry point for Europeans under current rules.

3. Can I get into the country at all the US borders are closed to us Brits.

4. So if the borders are relaxed and I cannot get into Austin. can I get an alternative flight and drive down from Dallas. My understanding is that is only a 3 hour drive. But would be my longest drive on what you incorrectly call the right side of the road : ). 

The worst news is that I doubt many European manufactutrers will make it across as the Czech republic has banned its nationals from leaving the country which could rule out seeing all my friends from Eduard, Special Hobby and Aries till at least E Day in September. And again that is if they A. Allow Public Gatherings, B Let us Brits into the country.

 

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All

           My .02 cents for what it's worth. RC Boater hit the nail on the head. If it does get cancelled then move it to 23. But provided it gets cancelled by the hotel or local authorities. Now here is another no win factor for IPMS. Attendance, Vendors may and have pulled out, pre reg and actual walkins I would bet would be down due to fear and also genuine concerns of quite a few of our embers being up their in age and risk factors . So even if the facility goes ahead and lets it continue does IPMS have an out in the contract with these genuine concerns of loosing big bucks due to low attendance. Either way its a no win for us as an organization. Cancel and loose the convention, or hold hit and loose $$$$$. 

 

Jim

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IF it's held, I plan on attending. I've been going to the Nats whenever I could afford to and get off from work since 1978. That's not going to change.

I do expect, even under the best of circumstances, a much smaller Nats. Even without considering the health issues, many people's finances have been thrown for a loop due to all of the shut downs. They simply will not be able to afford to attend. Also, if the airlines do get back to more normal schedules, it'll still be tough for many to afford to fly, IF they can find a flight on the still limited flight schedules. The only up side is that gas is much cheaper and it's less costly to drive in (as I plan to).

Perhaps this will make for a "more intimate" Nats? One where with fewer models you feel like you may actually have time to see them all? One that feels like you're not fighting a tidal flow trying to get down an aisle in the model room or vendors room? And perhaps one with a little more appreciation for the event itself and the people you get to see there only once a year!

One thing that will have to be addressed is HOW do you judge AND keep social distancing? The rest of the time it's pretty easy to keep a bit of distance between each other, but it'll be tough on judging teams!

Will it lose money? Perhaps......and not that we want that to happen....but IPMS can get past such a thing easier now than in past times. But it also means that future Nats (and ALL model shows) will have to rethink almost every aspect of how things are done, and is it possible to hold the same type of show given new social paradigms? Personally, I believe much of what's happened has been a gross over reaction and things can go on "as normal" for the most part...but those are just MY feelings...and there's a significant number of our members with greater concerns than myself. We'll HAVE to take those concerns into consideration!

 

Gil :smiley16:

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I agree with much of what Jim and Gil have said. Here is another consideration. Anyone in health care has to consider the possibility that they are a vector of this disease! Even you if tested negative the week before, you could have been exposed and contracted it, and therefore be able to spread it ( whether you were symptomatic or not) if you worked the day before you left. You could test negative and quarantine yourself until the convention, bearing in mind that there is a 15% false negative rate for the test! 

Working as I am in a hospital where we have had and do have and probably will continue to have Covid 19 cases, do I put other IPMS members at risk by attending, especially, as Gil points out, during judging? And while a recently reported statistic says health care workers are no more likely to get sick from Covid 19 than non- health care workers, that is not the same as saying they are no more likely to be carriers. I have also not heard any health expert say that if you have antibodies, you cannot be a carrier. There is just too little known to determine, for certain, what is safe! 

A lot to think about. 

Nick

Edited by Nick Filippone

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Bingo, Nick!  I had an appointment with my doctor on Tuesday, and we discussed COVID-19.  Her words to me?  "We simply still don't know what we don't know!"

Cheers!

Ralph

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What is the date that they have to make the decision for either go or no go for the convention?

 

Mike

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1 hour ago, MRechlicz said:

What is the date that they have to make the decision for either go or no go for the convention?

 

Mike

As I understand,  should the organizing committee cancel the convention while the city/county is open for business, the organizing committee will forfeit any deposits and are contractually liable for agreed to charges (tours, etc.). In addition they have already bought t-shirts and trophies with 2020 dates that are a lost expense if the show is canceled for any reason

The city/county/state can close at anytime.     Expenses, deposits should then  be refundable. 

Our local show, Scalefest, was postponed about 6 weeks out    We had sold 2 vendor tables, due to vendor uncertainty.  We need about 80 tables to cover the hall rental   If we canceled outright while the city was open we would default our deposit plus be liable for the whole hall rental    We were given the option of rescheduling up to a year out without loosing the deposit.  
Unfortunately the Nats dont have that option to reschedule    

 

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It really is a pickle but If the city stays open then really IPMS and the planing hosts have no other choice then to go forward with it and hope to not lose too much money with decreased numbers both in attendants and Vendors. 

   Gil brings up an interesting thought about judging with the whole distancing issues. I do believe there is a way with 3 team members to stay away from each other. The trick is in how to keep other teams from bumping into each other while out on the floor. It may require some organization of staggering categories while being judged so as to allow a one category space between teams. We will have to see the layout but "usually" they go fairly close in number sequence so we could assign categories with spacing allowances.

 

Jim

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I personally think the awarded conventions should all push back one year.  The attendees mostly tend to be higher risk individuals.  I would expect attendance to be way off even if a decision is made to move forward.  

I don't want to see the organization take a hit so perhaps a gofundme account can be set up to help offset any short term loss.  We could all certainly afford to help out given the reduction in travel expenses.  

update.. I would be very happy to send in my registration fees and then some to support you guys down in Texas.  What a nightmare.

Dave

Edited by DWaples

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        As mentioned before , it's not as simple as that. You can't push dates around when contracts with venues have been signed. Plus the venue (In this case San Marcos) needs to make money to offset their loss the past 6 to 8 weeks so if they can be open they will expect their signed contracts to be upheld. If IPMS were to cancel it would be a huge hit on the society and one that a Go fund me wouldn't make up for.  IPMS can't even rely on continued membership (people  let thiers lapse and only reup if the convention is close) Let alone banking on a Go Fund me effort. Granted Dave your gesture is noble, I just don't see it taking place on the scale needed for the reason given above.

      I'll use some rough numbers. Our expense for just the convention center a couple years ago was around 25K. Now factor in lost room nights for the hotel and the loss of the food requirement. Now add in the monies that IPMS would owe for table set up, already purchased awards and (possibly) T shirts plus AV equipment rentals that were forced upon us at an exorbitant rate of around 11K for just one evening. You start closing in on a 100K bill pretty fast. And these conventions routinely pass the 100K mark in expenses. 

      So yes numbers probably will be down but even if they are down some kind of cash flow will come in to offset the loss expected and then IPMS will have to make up the difference. Granted its a bad situation but what choice is there? IPMS cancels and loses half of the monies in the coffers or hold it and take the lumps.

     The only way IPMS escapes in some degree is if the local government says people can't gather in more than a certain amount of people or conventions can't take place. That would force the convention center to cancel. Then it's out of IPMS's hands and then possible to get out of some or all of the already signed contracts. Then the center could offer up a deal for 2023. But with the start of gradual reopening of the economy I don't see the city saying it's closed 10 weeks from now after being close for the past 8 weeks.

 

Jim

     

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Jim’s remarks are correct if ominous. The only thing I would add is an admittedly morbid possibility that might get us off the hook somewhat ( I am sure others have thought of this, also):  If things open up, and we see another surge of cases, there may be a reintroduction of restrictions on gathering size, for example. Certainly, from a humanitarian point of view, we do not hope for this. Furthermore, such a circumstance would throw many other of our future events into doubt until an effective vaccine is available. Hence, until such time, how wise is it for any events to be planned and invested in? Even if such events are permitted, will attendance be prohibitively low out of understandable fear of contagion. It is bad enough that one has to take one’s life into one’s hands to pay one’s bills.Additionally,  I assume no one wants to be the cause of anyone’s demise. A model convention just isn’t that important. 

Testing and tracking may help, but we seem to be a long way from being able to do enough of that. And none of the eggheads can yet answer such questions as: Can you still be a carrier if you’ve had it? Can you get it again and, if so, how soon?

These are issues that each of us must wrestle with as individuals and as responsible members of this venerable organization. The next couple of months may help us all decide what to do.

Regards, Nick

 

 

 

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Hi,

A few points and I will be quick.  My comments are as a Modeler, IPMS Member, and a Vendor.   

  1. Postpone the convention until 2023.   Getting the already bought items like shirts, awards, etc for this years convention in 2023 would be a unique way to remember this time.   So, all of it can be used and we all will have a great story to tell.   
  2. Who here wants to take responsibility for someone healthy coming to the convention, getting the bug and either having the virus themselves or worse spreading it when they get home.   Sure, some of you want to play fast and loose with it but until there is a therapy and/or a vaccine, it is a medical risk for everyone.  
  3. In reality, while we all love to come to the NATS for the various reasons, it is not required to attend...it is for enjoyment.  Yes there are many risky enjoyments that Many of us participate in.   None of us will go flying without a preflight and none of us would go skydiving without checking the gear.   If someone, with expertise told you there may be a hidden problem somewhere with the Plane or the chute rig, would you chance it??   No, no sane individual would.  

My wife and I are not in any of the risk categories for COVID-19, but our Doctors, including our Daughter who is a US Navy Doctor, say unnecessary exposure to others is to be avoided....period.   To do otherwise is to take unnecessary risk.......and its is with your life people!

 

Gary,GT Resin

 

 

 

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Gary if I may answer your points.

   1) We can't postpone/cancel UNLESS you want to organization to eat a 100k bill. We (IPMS) would have to pay the convention center, decorators (IE Tables) not to mention AV costs , food requirements by backing out of the contract that was signed 2 years ago . Plus add in awards that are already manufactured WITH DATES ON THEM.  

  2) No one here or in IPMS would be taking responsibility for anyone attending, that is on the individual attending. It is your choice to go or not. We all have taken a chance every year by attending and catching anything that may be out there. We do not live in a sterile world. So no one is playing "Fast and Loose". Living is a medical risk until death happens.

 3) Agreed it is not required to attend , so again you have the freedom of choice to come or not. 

What I do take exception to is this. Your assumption that anyone who decides to go if the convention is held in somehow insane because they may not agree with your opinion. We all take calculated Risks in life. I drove 5k miles last year to attend, and I would say the odds of being involved in an accident were greater than the odds of catching something and dying of it this year. 

Do I want the convention canceled? Well at the end of the day my or anyone else's opinion doesn't really matter. What matters are contracts and how local governments decide to do business which directly affects those contracts.

 

Jim

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