On Sunday, Oct. 1, in the hours just before Stephen Craig Paddock, whom Las Vegas police report was a 64-year-old resident of Mesquite, Nev., opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest Festival country music concert from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, InsureTech Connect Founder Jay Weintraub and his team were walking the show floor of their own major Las Vegas event.
Despite the carnage that unfolded just up the Strip — the shooting resulted in 59 dead and more than 500 people injured — InsureTech Connect will begin today as planned at Caesars Palace.
Billed as "the world's largest insurtech event," Weintraub, who is founder and CEO of NextCustomer, a b2b events company, expects about 3,000 insurance-industry executives, entrepreneurs and investors to attend InsureTech Connect. It follows that organizers were quick to reassure attendees via email that everything remains on track.
"While the mood is somber and our hearts go out to the victims of this senseless tragedy, the people of Las Vegas are united in strength and resilience," InsureTech Connect organizers said today in an early morning message. "The Las Vegas airport has reopened as have the streets and the hotels. Our venue remains open, and we expect no change in the schedule of events."
Here are some additional thoughts that Weintraub, pictured at right, shared with PropertyCasualty360 about the impact and significance of InsureTech Connect, which begins today and runs through Wed., Oct. 4.
PC360: What, to you, is most noteworthy about the evolution of InsureTech Connect?
Weintraub: It was probably mid-August 2016, when we really started to feel that we might have something special with InsureTech Connect. This year, that feeling started in May and hasn't let up since.
The quality and diversity of attendees continues to surprise us (in a good way). We certainly believe that insurance innovation is not limited to one product line or a handful of functions within an organization. It is one thing for us to say it, but it is another thing for the industry to validate that hypothesis. And that is what they have done and what I think those in attendance will feel when they interact with fellow industry leaders.
PC360: What are you most looking forward to at this year's event?
Weintraub: Our joking answer is Wednesday at 4 p.m., when sessions end, as that will hopefully mean the team can finally take a breath. And while that is true, I am very much looking forward to the conversations that will take place that may not otherwise have happened had such an expansive group not assembled at the same place and same time. We saw it last year — from startups that received funding to companies that were able to refine their strategy and gain a sense of confidence in their go forward plan by being able to validate ideas based on what they heard. We also love when new technologies are given a fast track to a pilot or implementation, as the results are tangible.
PC360: What do you believe are the top-of-mind issues for this year's InsureTech Connect attendees and exhibitors?
Weintraub: I think people are looking not just for ideas but for answers, and they want to be able to separate out what is hype from what will likely create an impact. The time for exploration isn’t necessarily over, but the time for exploration that doesn’t lead to ideas around implementation probably is or soon will be.
PC360: In your opinion, how can attendees and exhibitors get the most out of this year's event?
Weintraub: Connect. While we are super-proud of our lineup of speakers and the sessions in which they take part, were one to attend only sessions and not meet others, I think they would miss out on at least half of the value that ITC brings. Our commitment to connecting is not just reflected in our name but in the tools we provide our audience to discover others and set meetings, to the large networking breaks we incorporate into the agenda.
PC360: What else would you like people to know about InsureTech Connect 2017?
Weintraub: We are witnessing a truly magical time. We have the whole of the industry committed to change, and it isn’t just lip service. These magical moments in an industry come around so rarely. And, our goal is to help the industry make the most of this time. Tech certainly plays a part, but it is really about the people driving innovation and change that will play the biggest part. InsureTech Connect is not about enabling disruption or highlighting issues within insurance. It is about ensuring that we as an industry can make the most of this magical moment in time and look back with pride.