Dear Forum Friends and Colleagues:
The Forum on Franchising has provided the premier educational and networking opportunity to franchise lawyers through its Annual Meeting for 42 consecutive years. The quality of the Forum's Annual Meeting is unmatched by any organization, anywhere in the world. I recalled my early experience with the Forum at the 1998 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia and the very positive impact it has had on my career in the Fall 2019 edition of The Franchise Lawyer; I expect many of you have similar feelings about the Forum's Annual Meeting, which is truly the crown jewel of our great organization.
To state the obvious, this year is different in so many ways, including the manner in which the Forum's leadership is planning for the 2020 Annual Meeting. Although none of us knows what the world will look like in October 2020 (much less, tomorrow!), one thing is certain: we will have a 2020 Forum on Franchising Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting may look different than in past years, but we feel strongly that it is our duty as leaders of the Forum to deliver to our members a 2020 Annual Meeting that meets our very high standards.
Our strong preference is to conduct the Annual Meeting live and in person at the beautiful and very spacious JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in Phoenix, and we are working hard towards that objective. It probably goes without saying, but the health and safety of our membership is of paramount concern. Therefore, we are engaging with management at the hotel to address a range of issues that we will most certainly still be dealing with in October, including social distancing, safe food service, and enhanced facility sanitization. The location and format of our social and networking events will also be different this year in an effort to minimize close contact and streamline these events. We will likely also provide portions of the meeting in remote format for those individuals who cannot attend the live meeting.
That said, we are, obviously, in a fluid environment where circumstances can change very rapidly. So, in parallel with our planning for a live meeting, we are deeply engaged in contingency planning so that we are able to pivot to a high-quality, comprehensive virtual meeting format in the event that we determine over the course of the next few months that a live meeting is not possible. Our Planning Committee has been meeting on a weekly basis (and otherwise communicating much more frequently than that) to constantly monitor relevant developments and make sure that all contingencies are anticipated.
We plan to open meeting registration (which will be entirely online this year) in early to mid-June. Our early bird discount registration deadline this year will be extended to August 31.
I want to thank the Forum Governing Committee, the meeting Planning Committee (including the meeting co-chairs, Elizabeth Weldon and Gary Batenhorst), and the Past Chairs of the Forum for their thoughtful and constructive input as we have progressed through this Annual Meeting planning season and confronted the unique challenges that have arisen during the process. We are also grateful to DCI, our outside meeting planners, for their expertise and attentiveness.
A very special thanks to our speakers, who are all hard at work on their papers and who will be planning their presentations in the coming weeks. We all look forward to reading your excellent work and seeing you all present a great selection of intensive programs, workshops, and plenaries.
Rest assured that the Forum leadership is closely monitoring developments and will make adjustments, as necessary, that are in the best interests of the Forum as a whole.
My best to you and your families.