Traveling for business or pleasure? For the many attendees of GALA 2022 in sunny San Diego, California, the answer was both.

The Globalization and Localization Association’s 2022 conference, which alternated presentations on the language industry with frequent breaks for mingling, drew attendees from across the globe — including an especially high turnout from South America.

In a sign of the times, the conference operated in hybrid fashion. Those participating virtually were able to attend many sessions, including speed networking, online in real time.

The array of add-ons to badges, typically more utilitarian and limited to labels such as “Speaker” and “First-Timer,” was expanded in a nod to the wide range of participants’ possible sentiments about meeting in person. Tongue-in-cheek ribbons informed others if a wearer was “Smiling Behind My Mask,” for instance, or open to elbow-bumps rather than hugs.

Most attendees, however, were eager to be back in person, meeting new people and catching up with colleagues after years apart.

The mood was buoyant, though punctuated with more somber moments — and a GALA “Unconference” session — acknowledging the situation in Ukraine. In particular, nonprofit Translators Without Borders held a fundraiser for its work in Ukraine, and language service provider (LSP) Easyling donated its marketing budget for the conference to Unicef’s efforts with child refugees from Ukraine.

Programming reflected a mix of interests shared by attendees, by and large representatives of LSPs. Behind-the-scenes business presentations touched on marketing, sustainable growth, and M&A. 

Interpreting also featured prominently; from machine interpreting to a reevaluation of the interpreting landscape, which was rocked by Covid-19. Several technology-focused sessions explored different ways to leverage linguistic data, a major topic of interest in the industry.

Outside of the official schedule, attendees expressed optimism about business picking up as pandemic travel restrictions ease — and hope that the next in-person conference will not be too long in coming.



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