I had the pleasure of attending many of the U.S. state and regional parking and transportation conferences this past fall. With the conference season now behind us, I got to thinking about the extent of work and planning it takes to execute a successful conference event.
The board of directors, committee chairs and members, and conference coordinators make it all look so easy. The rest of us show up on opening day ready to learn and experience all that is new and exciting in our industry, rarely giving a thought to the incredible amount of preparation it takes to provide us with a quality experience. The association volunteers and staff are responsible for so many details: negotiating a reasonable contract for a conference hotel and related services, determining appropriate educational sessions, laying out an optimal tradeshow floor, creating an educational schedule that meets the expectation of attendees, making sure all of the audio-visual requirements are set up or arranged for, determining the appropriate food selections and beverage items for a variety of occasions … the list continues on to include putting out fires—both small and large—as they invariably arise throughout the conference event. Whew.
For participants, it’s nearly invisible. But then, that’s the goal, isn’t it?
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