It's a safe bet stress levels were unusually high at Autotask earlier this week. Like millions of Americans, the Albany, N.Y.-based Autotask executive team closely monitored Hurricane Irma as it tore through Florida before pushing into Georgia and Alabama.
More than a casual observer, Autotask leaders faced a critical inflection point. Amid the biggest disaster recovery effort in U.S. history, the company had to decide whether to press ahead with its Autotask Community Live conference -- set to start September 17 in Hollywood, Florida.
Early reports suggest the conference hotel -- The Diplomat Beach Resort Hollywood -- escaped the storm largely unscathed. Like most businesses in that part of town, the hotel closed briefly during the storm but has since reopened. Limited services are up and running through Friday, and full service is expected by Saturday, Sept. 16, according to a note on the resort's website.
Autotask Community Live 2017: No Delay
Autotask on September 11 confirmed plans to press forward with the event. According to a company statement that day:
"Hurricane Irma has now passed, and while its impact will be felt across Florida for some time, we do not anticipate any disruption to our Autotask Community Live partner conference next week. We look forward to seeing everyone at the welcome reception on Sunday evening at 7pm.
The Diplomat Resort is in Hollywood, FL, and north of the metro Miami area. We are fortunate that this area was less impacted by the storm, and there have been reports of only minimal damage. The property does remain closed until Wednesday, which may impact attendees planning to arrive before the weekend. We do expect the hotel, and nearby airports, to be fully operational later this week, and recommend attendees book air travel into the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL).
We will continue to provide additional details as we have them. For the latest, please follow our posts on Twitter and within the Autotask Community Live Facebook group. For any other questions, please email [email protected]."
Admittedly, it can be a bit awkward to attend a conference so close to the date and location of a natural disaster. In addition to the social considerations, there are the basic questions about infrastructure (power, broadband, cellular, etc.), transportation (airlines, rental cars, fuel, public transportation, etc.) and the basics (food, food, food).
I certainly weighed those variables when I heard the show was proceeding. I also spoke with a few IT service providers who have feet on the ground in the Miami and Hollywood, Florida, area. All of them assured me that the basic necessities are in place for a successful conference and IT event.
I also took a hard look in my own mirror. Generally speaking, IT media isn't exactly a thriving business market these days. And yet, the IT service provider ecosystem -- and the vendors within -- have given me and my business partner Amy Katz careers that we love.
Skip Autotask Community Live? Not A Chance
Amid that reality, I look forward to attending Autotask Community Live 2017. We'll be blogging and reporting from the conference. But we'll also be extra sensitive and respectful of the challenging times facing the region -- particularly southern and central Florida.
Don't look for us to party. Do look for us to cover the conversation at the conference. Email me if you'd like to potentially meet: [email protected].
PS: Thank you in advance to the people of Hollywood, Florida, who are keeping the lights on and restoring services for visitors like me. See you Sunday.