GSMCON2020 Virtual Transition FAQs

The 2020 Government Social Media Conference is cancelled as an in-person event due to the unfortunate Coronavirus impact in the Seattle-area, and GSMCON2020 will be transitioned to a 100% virtual event.

Updates & Virtual Conference Planning

As of Friday, March 6, 2020, our event is changing to entirely virtual due to recommendation by public health officials in King County, WA that large gatherings be cancelled due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak.

The virtual conference is postponed to a later date in the near future as of Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Please visit our news page for more information on this decision and on the upcoming release of the COVID-19 hub.

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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

We've compiled answers to questions you may have about what happens next for GSMCON2020. Please see if your question is here first, and we're available to answer any other questions you have via email or please call (888) 803-9401 ext. 11.

General Questions

Public health officials in King County, where the convention center is located, not only declared a public health emergency, but also encouraged large event organizers to cancel their events. Among many other impacts, we would have needed to advise attendees who are pregnant, over 60, or have pre-existing health conditions to not come. It wouldn’t have been fair to our speakers, sponsors and staff to continue to hold the event and put others at risk. Several of our keynotes and speakers were already cancelling. We also believe the situation may continue to escalate over the next two weeks, leading local public officials to take more significant actions to contain the virus.

Other than the reasons stated above, the Coronavirus situation showed signs of escalating further in the area, as well as more broadly over the U.S. The situation in King County occurred only over the course of one week. Cancelling when we did allows people to plan accordingly and will have less impact on the venues.

We can’t predict the impacts to the Seattle-area throughout 2020, or the ability of our attendees to travel across the United States for the near future. This situation is unprecedented, and governments and the CDC are beginning to recommend “social distancing measures.” We believe the impacts to the country are just beginning.

It’s unclear how this decision will affect GSMCON and the greater GSM community, but your safety outweighed these implications and this decision was the right thing to do. Financial impacts are pending and are dependent on how the venues will handle our cancellations this close to the conference dates.

Refund, Cancellation & Registration Questions

Every purchaser was required to check a box accepting the terms & conditions prior to submitting their registration. The terms included the cancellation policy, which notes that there were no refunds after Feb. 21. It also explains that if the event needed to be cancelled due to Force Majeure (that’s the provision that refers to acts of God and uncontrollable events), then organizers can retain the entire payment. We also recommended getting travel insurance in case of cancellation.

Despite all that legal language — we recognize how much of an unprecedented impact this unique situation has on government agencies. Therefore, we’re working to offer you some choices, and we hope you will choose to participate in our virtual event.

  • Choice #1 - Participate in the GSMCON2020 Virtual Conference. Do this! We’re pulling in all our friends and partners to make it a great event, we’re getting the social networks involved and many more surprises. We really, really hope you’ll choose this option.
  • Choice #2 - Carry your ticket over to our 2021 conference. This has greater financial impact to the future of GSM, but we know some of you have good reasons for not being able to participate in the virtual conference. You can submit a ticket carry-over request during the month of April 2020, giving us time to set up a process.

    GSMCON2021 will be held at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown in Philadelphia, PA from March 23-25, 2021.

  • Choice #3 - Get a Refund. As a small business that aims to serve government professionals, revenue from GSMCON carries our organization throughout the year and helps us provide so many other services to you. Retaining as many registrations as we can will not only give you the best conference experience possible under these unforeseen conditions, but will also help ensure that we can continue on with GSMCON and our other services to you and your colleagues. If you can’t participate in our virtual event and don’t want to carry your ticket over to our 2021 event, you can submit a refund request during the month of April 2020, giving us time to set up a process. Refund requests will be considered on a case by case basis. We’re working on different options for you right now on the portion of your ticket that may be refunded. We appreciate you giving us time to work through negotiations with the convention center and hotels to know what the bottom line will be. We’ll get clearer answers before you need to make a decision on participating in the virtual event.

No need to take action now – we’ll reach out closer to our virtual event letting you know the process for participating in the virtual conference, carrying over your ticket, or requesting a refund.

We’re currently working with our workshop hosts to assess whether or not we can hold virtual workshops instead. If our solution won’t work for you, you can request a refund during the month of April 2020. Please give us some time and we’ll be in touch.

If you booked within the official GSMCON hotel block, the hotels will cancel your reservation automatically. If you wish to keep your reservation, please reach out to the hotel directly to rebook your reservation. 

If you did not book within the official GSMCON hotel block, you will need to cancel directly with the hotel.

  • Sheraton: (206) 621-9000
  • Hyatt Regency: (206) 973-1234

Attendees need to reach out directly to their airline to cancel, postpone or get credits for your flights. 

We've put together a flight resource page with contact information and COVID-19 details for most airlines.

Registration for the in-person event is currently closed due to the event transitioning to 100% virtual. We will open registration again to accommodate anyone who now wants to register for the virtual conference. Those who originally bought a ticket for the in-person event don’t need to register again — we’ll reach out to you about how to participate in the virtual conference soon.

  • We usually announce the next year’s location during the closing session of the conference, but we understand your need to know as soon as possible. 
  • UPDATE: Many of you have asked if we could bring the event to Seattle in 2021, but we already signed with this east coast location months ago. GSMCON2021 will be held at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown in Philadelphia, PA from March 23-25, 2021. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone in person at GSMCON2021, but we hope you join us, your peers and the social networks for the GSMCON2020 virtual conference first!
  • We know some of you have good reasons for not being able to participate in the virtual conference. You can carry your ticket over to our 2021 event, by submitting a ticket carry-over request during the month of April 2020, giving us time to set up a process.

Virtual Conference (VC) and Virtual Pass (VP) Questions

UPDATE: GSMCON2020 Virtual Conference was postponed to a later date in the near future as of Tuesday, March 17, 2020, due to the impacts of the Coronavirus felt on our communities across the U.S. 

We will be releasing our COVID-19 virtual hub very soon to connect you with your social media peers across the U.S. and help you collaborate on best ways to communicate with your communities. This will be a place where you can share advice, get input and more on dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic. More information will be available soon.

Virtual Pass holders will still get access to view sessions virtually after the event. Typically, sessions are available via the Virtual Pass starting 10 days after the event. Good news is that with the transition, session recordings will be available sooner.

We’re still working out the details, but the full Virtual Conference will be different in that participants get real-time interactive features to communicate with speakers and attendees, and as a bonus will include access to an ongoing virtual hub of resources for social media professionals dealing with Coronavirus outreach in their communities.

The Virtual Pass isn’t cancelled. Virtual Pass participants will still get access to the recorded sessions after the event, sooner than the typical 10 days later. This will be different than full Virtual Conference tickets, which will include real-time interactive features to communicate with speakers and attendees and access to an ongoing virtual hub of Coronavirus resources.

No, but we’re working on making the Virtual Conference an exceptional experience that includes even more than you’d get with the in-person event. We know a virtual experience isn’t the same as in-person, so we’re getting our partners and social networks on board to make it special for you. Please give us some time and we’ll be in touch.

Yes, we’re planning to offer this as an option and will be working on it over the next week. We don’t yet know what the price difference will be, so please give us some time and we’ll be in touch. This is a great option for people who wanted to participate in GSMCON2020, but weren’t able to travel.

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