I am in Toronto today for the ASAE and The Center's 2009 Annual Meeting and Exposition. Its promoters call it "the Super Bowl of Conventions" - and it annually draws a crowd of thousands of association leaders and professionals for five days of meetings, exhibitions, forums, discussions, seminars, classes, and banquets. The convention itself is a major economic event in its host city - and the occasion allows the host to show itself off to the people who will decide where their own groups will hold meetings and stage conventions in over the next decade.
St. Louis is here - in force. We will host the 2011 convention - and I wanted to get the flavor of the event. Frankly, I am having a great time.
The St. Louis delegation is anchored by Kitty Ratcliffe, president of the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission. Kitty and her all-star team are staffing what is, by far, the most popular booth on the convention floor. As I write, there is a line for our display stretched halfway across the arena floor. Our secret weapon? Bears. St. Louis-based Build-a-Bear Workshop has produced the exposition's most sought-after souvenir. We (more accurately, Kitty, her staff, and the bears) are the toast of the convention - and Founder/Chief Executive Bear Maxine Clark's office is fielding calls from other venues begging for bear troupes to represent them. (Sorry, she's ours.) A staffer just pointed out celebremom Candy Spelling, who is supposed to be signing her book at the Los Angeles booth. Ms. Spelling was at the St. Louis booth waiting for a bear.
Did I mention I am having a great time? I'll be home tomorrow.