For now my fifth consecutive year, preceded by Las Vegas, Louisville, Chicago, and New Orleans, I was lucky enough to be in attendance at Collinson Media’s now very popular Connect Marketplace, held in Milwaukee, WI. What was incredibly special about this event, other than it being my fifth in a row, was that I had my wife and infant son Eli join me, marking his very first trip by air. My wife was exceptionally brave too as she traveled out to Milwaukee the day after I, doing it alone for Eli’s first trip.
For five years now I’ve walked away impressed and fulfilled. It continues to wow me with the widest gap in what I actually spend to be in attendance and what kind of return I get from the event itself. It costs me next to nothing to be there, predominantly because planner attendance is almost wholly subsidized by the supplier presence. But I guess the lay planner would gladly pay a fair sum to walk away with the kind of top notch education and networking that this conference affords. Names like Laura Ling and Magic Johnson as keynote speakers, and executive level advanced courses for meeting planners and suppliers who are no rookies to the industry.
And of course, their highly effective appointment based reverse trade show allows me to meet with up to forty-four hoteliers and convention bureaus, some of whom I’ve previously met and some for the first time. There is just as much education in learning about new facilities and destinations as there are in breakout sessions. The time is invaluable and I was once again grateful to be in attendance.
To also have my wife and son join me at the welcome toast and the closing reception was also memorable for me. Having been to this show now five years running, I’ve been fortunate enough to make some lasting relationships. And even for folks whom I see just that one time each year, in some senses Connect is like a reunion. Introducing my son to these people was very fulfilling for me and I can’t wait to bring him back next year when Connect descends upon Orlando.