Live From Dallas
All together now, sing to the tune of that retro ’70s standard by the Village People : P-C-M-A…P-C-M-A! I’m here in Dallas for the annual Convening Leaders convention, which is doing just that. Along with more than 3,100 senior level attendees is the majority of the coalition of hospitality industry movers and shakers (USTA, ASAE, MPI, PCMA, etc.) that joined together last year to bring home (and to Congress) the Meetings Mean Business campaign.
The mood is upbeat, and has been, since Ben Partin, our meetings and event manager, and I registered on Sunday. Connections are being re-established, ideas are flowing and networking opportunities are thawing even the unseasonably cold weather (17 degrees!).
Sure, there’s probably some spin going on, but I’ve been hearing plenty of “we did better than we expected,” “first quarter looks really good,” and “the phones are ringing.”
All this good news dovetails beautifully with this meeting—and I must say, Dallas has done a wonderful job welcoming and hosting delegates from all over the country—and the world. There’s plenty to see and do here, from sports to shopping and museum-hopping, and the meetings infrastructure keeps getting better and better.
Over the past few years, the city has spent more than $15 billion in new and ongoing development, not the least is the groundbreaking last fall for the long-awaited convention hotel, new Omni, adjacent to the center. With 1,000 rooms and 80,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, it’s projected to open in early 2012 and is aiming for Silver LEED certification.
Living up to its reputation for fun, Dallas hosted The Trails of Texas, their opening night party that showcased all the area has to offer, from music and shopping (think Neiman Marcus) to a homegrown state fair and more. Tonight’s ART-Rageous, in the city’s huge arts district, promises to do more of the same.
Keynote speakers have been superb, from Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, founder of Susan G. Koman for the Cure, to Dr. Kjell Nordstrom, a top management thinker about the state of meetings and travel, to (tomorrow) Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, Blink and Outliers—can’t wait for that one either! An exceptional seminar was the Airlines and Meetings: A CEO Conversation with Gerard Arpey, head of American Airlines, and Gary Kelly, his counterpart at Southwest. Moderated by Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, it was a frank discussion of the industry and its challenges from two very different viewpoints.
Can’t decide which seminar to take tomorrow morning (they’ve all been excellent). But that’s the definition of a good meeting, with plenty of value to take home.
I’m already looking forward to next year in Las Vegas. See you there!