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Friday, June 4, 2021

SEAA 2021 wows nearly 1,000 in the flesh

The Southeast Acquirers Association celebrated its 20th anniversary at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort in Bonita Springs, Fla., on May 24 to 26, 2021, with live music and nearly 1,000 attendees. With COVID restrictions lifting and growing numbers of people vaccinated, the SEAA served as a perfect reunion for payment professionals, event planners stated.

John McCormick, vice president of General Credit Forms and SEAA treasurer, stated he is honored to be part of the growing organization, which he co-founded with Audrey Blackmon and Judy Foster in 2001. "To have our biggest show on the West Coast of Florida was really gratifying," he said. "We registered over 1,000 and were just shy of that number with check-ins. I think we’ll [reach 1,000 attendees] next year in Atlanta, which will be a great celebration for our board and advisory committee."

Derek Vowels, director, partner solutions at Aliaswire and SEAA board member, thanked Cypress Planning Group for their service and support. "COVID protocols kept changing in the days and months leading up to the show," he said. "They had to change food plans daily and find overflow hotels and shuttle services to accommodate attendees, exhibitors and sponsors."

In person, on demand

Vowels said limiting capacity during the event's Demo Day was challenging, but everyone rose to the occasion, including Sean Murray, deBanked chief editor and publisher, and deBanked reporter Johny Fernandez, who each conducted live interviews at the conference. "Attendees can view every breakout session, presentation and popular CBD panel on the app and web portal for the rest of the calendar year," he said. "Going forward, hybrid events that combine face-to-face meetings with recordings will be the norm."

Jamie Garfield, SEAA board member and director of partner sales at Secure Bancard LLC, agreed Demo Day was a showstopper. "We got a lot of submissions and had to turn away some really good options," she said. "We allowed 15 people per room because of COVID protocol and could have easily doubled capacity, but we wanted to respect everyone’s safety."

Garfield thanked advisory and board members for making this year’s show a success and mentioned she has received great reviews from exhibitors about the quality and quantity of leads. Attendees were happy to have access to virtual content after the show, she added.

Giveaways, takeaways

"Attendees who signed up for early bird pricing have access to all of this virtual content after the show," Garfield said. "Not everyone is comfortable traveling yet. There were people who signed up early who didn't want to attend the live conference but wanted to watch everything online afterward, and the $95 rate gives them that access.”

McCormick noted that SEAA past and present members were honored at the conference as follows:

  • Past Board Members: Audrey Blackmon, Margaret Jordan, Elbert Enrique, Claudia Zane, Dee Karawadra and Martin Drake have served on the SEAA Board. 

  • Board Members: Jamie Garfield, Judy Foster, John McCormick, Terry Nawara, Derek Vowels. 

  • Advisory Committee: Andrew Altschuler, Andie Kolb, Jill Miller, John Shipley, Sonny Wooten.

"Former board members Audrey, Dee and Martin attended and were recognized on stage," McCormick said. "And we appreciate Alan Kopelman and David Burney, who have been to every single SEAA, and American Express and General Credit Forms for sponsoring every conference." end of article

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