The National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) is preparing to host its first in-person event in over two years next week in Irvine, Calif. The association’s Western Regional Meeting will provide the first major, industry-focused opportunity for reverse mortgage professionals to discuss their business with others in an in-person format since 2019, while also offering a full programming schedule discussing the unique issues which affect the business.
NRMLA itself is excited to finally be putting on a new in-person event after years of Zoom meetings and virtual programs, according to the association’s President Steve Irwin.
“Excitement is the mood, generally speaking,” Irwin says. “We’re really looking forward to this gathering.”
Industry excitement appears to be high, as well. Registration is described as “strong” by Irwin, saying that there are over 200 registrants from 23 different states currently scheduled to attend, in total representing more than 90 companies. Registration also appears to be strong so far for the forthcoming Eastern Regional Meeting, taking place in Baltimore, Md. in mid-July.
However, Irwin did want to specifically mention the concerns of some related to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. As the first event taking place since its onset in early 2020, scheduling a live event naturally comes with new concerns and considerations for both organizers and attendees alike.
“I just would like to share with everybody to be mindful of the world around us and the realities,” Irwin explains. “We have not put in any stringent requirements and are keeping a close eye on the situation, but we do recommend that our attendees wear masks, to sanitize their hands and to just be mindful of everybody else’s comfort level when interacting. We just want everybody to stay safe and help stop the spread.”
On the planning front, new concerns and priorities helped to shape the way that these 2022 events are being formed, and the association is not interested in jumping back into the way these events have been planned in the past, Irwin says.
“It’s not our intent to just go replicate what we’ve done before,” he says. “Whether it’s talking about the layout for the space or programming, we try to keep moving forward and to help with what our members want to move the industry forward. What is different this time is [the presence of] hand sanitizer and masks for staff, and extra for attendees. That’s necessarily different. But it’s not plug-and-play [with respect to repeating] what we’ve done before.”
Part of this comes from a conscious desire to minimize the amount of paper that the event will produce, and to that end the association will make event information available through the use of a mobile application called “Eventsential,” which attendees are encouraged to use for attendee and program information.
Maintaining a truly regional focus also seemed like a good place to begin in regards to starting up in-person industry events again, which helped to narrow down the potential venues for both the Western and Eastern Regional Meetings, he says.
In terms of content, one of the things that Irwin hopes attendees will note — particularly in comparison to virtual events that new and existing NRMLA members have become accustomed to — is a greater level of interactivity that is afforded by in-person discussions, he says.
“By design, a lot of our sales-focused sessions are going to be a lot more interactive,” he says. “There will be a lot more attendee engagement and opportunities for dialogue, rather than just delivery of information, making the event and content of the program a lot more interactive and more of an active discussion.”
Programming varies from updating attendees on the current state of the economy and how it impacts the senior demographic; to straightforward discussions about reverse mortgage servicing; and an update on industry advertising practices. Beyond the programming, having the chance to interact directly to see how industry peers really are doing will be a valuable opportunity for attendees, Irwin says.
“We are really looking forward to seeing everybody,” he says. “We’ve got a good program and just want people to travel safe, to be well, and we look forward to seeing them in California.”
The NRMLA Western Regional Meeting will take place at the Irvine Spectrum in Irvine, Calif. On May 22-24. RMD will be in attendance, so feel free to reach out for a meeting or to say hello on-site!