October 20

Convention Wrap-Up: IMEX

I just got back from attending the IMEX convention in Las Vegas. IMEX stands for….[googles IMEX]… “International Meeting Executives”….I think. Or maybe it’s “Incentive Meeting Executives.” I just don’t know. The important thing is that it’s largest annual convention for meeting planners in the whole country.

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Of course, my job as Director of Tourism has little or nothing to do with meetings. If it involves meeting space, I’m not involved. However, Visit Sacramento always has a booth at IMEX and our convention sales team attends. Some of the meeting planning companies in attendance do overlap into the world of tourism, so I was just there to kind of check it out.

The actual show itself seemed to be pretty productive as far as matching major conventions with new host cities. I know my booth partners from Sacramento seemed pleased. Mostly, I just walked the floor being charming (i.e. doing my “funny voices”).

So it’s basically a convention about conventions which is why it’s held in one of the most conventiony cities in the world. Anyone who travels for work will have to go to Vegas pretty regularly and it will wear you out.

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I’m not really a Vegas person. Its tiresome casinos, soulless celebrity restaurants and promise of actions without consequences seems to bring out the most boorish of behavior from people who are old enough to know better.

Keep in mind, that when I talk about Vegas I only really mean the Strip. I have no idea what happens out there in the real city.

I mean, conventions in Vegas can really go bad for some delegates: They stay out too late, they make make bad choices, they marry a stranger, they lose everything and everyone they’ve ever cared about, they have to endure a Celine Dion show, etc. Luckily, IMEX starts at 10am each day, so attendees kind of get a free pass to get all Vegassy and still have time to recoup the next day.

I avoided the whole thing, by not going out all. I couldn’t really motivate myself to go off on my own and none of my so-called “friends” had any desire to peer pressure me into going anywhere, so while my fellow conventioneers were out having fun crammed down their throats, I was in my room ironing shirts.

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After like two shirts, I thought about venturing out, but then I thought “Naw, I’ll just iron a few more shirts.” And after I ironed all the shirts I thought to myself “Hmm, I wish I brought more shirts.” Luckily – for everyone – I did bring pants, so I moved on to those. An hour later, I had a closet full of perfectly pressed clothes and I was in bed listening to old-timey radio shows. So I’m maybe not really the target market for Vegas.

For comparison, I think my favorite tourism convention I ever went to was in Rapid City, South Dakota. Rapid City has a pretty adorable little downtown and I just wandered into the first pub I could find. I ordered a beer and asked the bartender if they had food. She said they only had frozen pizzas….which I wasn’t opposed to, but before I pulled the trigger on that DiGiorno, the only other person in the bar said “I’m on my way to a party, you want to come along?”

The next thing I know, she hands me a fruit tray so I won’t show up empty-handed and we walk in to a charming old house where there’s an election night party for a guy who’s running for city council. There were a couple guys playing guitar around a fire pit in the back yard, a keg of beer being poured into tiny jelly jars and – after the results came in – a victory song sing-along played on a real piano with all my new friends.

This is the only photo I could find of that night:

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The guy kinda smiling into the camera with the drink in his hand was the guy who won the election. He’s probably governor by now, but who has time to look that up? Anyhow, that was a great night and I wish more conventions were in places like that.

When it comes to a good convention destination, I love the smaller, less flashy places that maybe aren’t as well known or as well put together as Vegas or New Orleans or Orlando, but are overflowing with personality and welcoming locals. I suppose this is why I like Sacramento so much. Sure, we don’t have all-night VIP clubs, toptional pools or a bunch of Gordon Ramsay restaurants, but on the plus side we don’t have all-night VIP clubs, toptional pools or a bunch of Gordon Ramsay restaurants. To each his own, I guess.

All I know is that after two days worth of flashing lights and constant yelling, I couldn’t have been happier than to be greeted with a nice sunrise, some weird low fog and whole bunch of nothing in Sacramento.

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I guess this post ended up being less about IMEX and more about me complaining about Vegas, but hey, it’s my blog.

Viva Las Vegas!

 

 

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