After careful consideration of health indicators in Austin and extensive discussions, we have made the decision to shift the 2021 ROMBA conference to a fully virtual format.
This decision is not taken lightly. We know it will be disappointing to many of you, and we share your disappointment. However, when looking at the risks and implications of convening a large gathering, particularly in a city where healthcare resources are already stretched to their limits, it became clear that the only viable path forward is a virtual ROMBA for this year.
Several factors have significantly altered the landscape since our May decision to proceed with an in-person conference:
- The CDC has listed the United States at Level 4(Very High Covid-19 Transmission – the highest possible level). The CDC website states: “Avoid travel to these destinations. If you must travel to these destinations, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel.”
- Per Austin Public Health, Austin-Travis County is currently in Stage 5, the highest level of alert of COVID alert, with gatherings discouraged.
- New cases of COVID in Travis County are at their highest levels since their previous peak in January 2021.
- COVID hospitalizations in Travis County are at their highest point to date, leaving only 5 ICU beds available as of Aug. 31.
- The Governor of Texas has banned vaccine mandates, making it impossible for us to ensure all parties in attendance have been vaccinated.
- The Delta variant has proven to be highly contagious, even for vaccinated individuals. If we were to convene a large meeting, we recognize it is extremely likely that some attendees would contract COVID and place further strain on Austin’s already stretched healthcare system or bring the infection back to their own families and communities.
We know ROMBA is very important to our community, and we are working hard to ensure this year’s event continues to educate, inspire, and connect this amazing group of LGBT+ MBA students and professionals.
It’s also important to note that the ROMBA Conference isn’t only for current MBAs. We are continuing to expand programming and networking opportunities for the post-MBA/alumni community through ROMBA, and we look forward to welcoming all of you (whether students or alumni!) when we are able to gather safely in person.
What stays the same?
- Career Expo will still be held virtually on Friday, October 1, from 12-4pm CT.
- All pre-MBA and post-MBA sessions will take place as scheduled the week of Sept 27.
- Now everyone can safely enjoy the full content lineup of the conference!
- The conference agenda on October 7-9 has been shifted to accommodate our virtual format and multiple time zones. For example, the Friday morning breakfast will be replaced by a Welcome Plenary on Thursday evening. A revised agenda will be posted the week of September 7, once everyone has been notified of these updates.
2021 Refunds and Free Registration for ROMBA 2022
We will provide a full refund for your 2021 conference registration fee, including charity party tickets and credit card service charges. As the refund process is extremely manual, thanks in advance for your patience as we work through these. All refunds will be completed by the end of September.
In addition, everyone who registered this year for in-person attendance will be given a free registration – even if you are no longer a student – for next year’s conference in Washington, DC, where we will celebrate our 25th ROMBA.
For anyone who reserved a room within the ROMBA discount block at the Hilton Austin, your room will be canceled automatically; you do not need to take any further action on that.
If you reserved a room at the Hilton Austin outside of our block, i.e., you did not use the link provided in the ROMBA 2021 registration confirmation email, you will need to take action to cancel your room as the hotel won’t be aware that you’re part of the ROMBA conference group and will not automatically cancel your reservation.
If you have booked flights and/or accommodations other than the Hilton Austin ROMBA block, in many instances hotels and airlines continue to offer cancellation policies that provide a refund or a travel credit due to the rise of the Delta variant.
This web page provides up-to-date information on most airline policies for obtaining a refund or travel credit.
Some airlines or other businesses may request proof that your event has been canceled due to COVID to issue a refund or credit. You can use the ROMBA 2021 CANCELLATION CONFIRMATION for TRAVEL form for this purpose.