With #FGCAConf09 less than three weeks away, this past Wednesday, Veterans Day, with the day off, conference committee members thought it would be a great opportunity to meet with our contact at the Hilton Garden Inn to finalize all our arrangements for the conference, including logistics and food and beverage. And, believe me, we've selected some awesome menu items.
As we began talking to the sales manager, and making decisions about where the registration table should be, how the meeting room should be set up and all the other details that go into planning any special event, I think the reality and excitement of "we're really going to have a conference" began to sink in. We began discussing other conferences we had attended, what worked for us as attendees, what didn't, and how we were going to make sure our attendees avoided the pitfalls we had endured. I remember feeling trapped at several conferences because there was no place to go outside of the hotel without having some form of transportation. That won't happen in Palm Beach Gardens, where the hotel is within walking distance to shops, restaurants and bars - and ven across the street from one of the area's largest purveyors of adult beverages, if speaker Matt Horbund inspires you to take up wine as a new hobby.
After our meeting at the hotel, we moved on to Downtown at The Gardens, the shopping and entertainment center adjacent to the hotel - remember! Walking distance! - which is hosting our tweetup on Wednesday evening for those coming in for the conference that day. Our event just happens to coincide with DATG's holiday kickoff, and we grew very excited when DATG's VP Tom Guiliana told us that just minutes before we sat down with him he had signed a company to do a spectacular light show on that evening. DATG has given us their center court area for the tweetup event, which will also be open to the public. Conference Committee member Donna Giuliana has become our resident tweetup expert and from her research - someone had to bite the bullet and attend area tweetups to scope out what goes on there - reports that the tweetup community in Palm Beach County is diverse, interesting and friendly. This is, in fact, how we got Matt Horbund as a speaker; Donna met him at a tweetup. See, social media really does work. We are extremely grateful to DATG for their support of our tweetup.
It had been a long afternoon of planning, and it was time for the Conference Committee to take a much needed break. By happy coincidence, it was 5:00 P.M. and we decided adult beverages were in order. It was over our drinks that I said, "Remember when we started this and I asked, 'Where will we find the speakers'? and you guys told me not to worry?" What can I say? They were right. In fact, our cup runneth over. On Wednesday, we picked up two more speakers, which made it necessary to create another session. As I wrote previously, I don't know where else you can get this much bang - so many experts in their field - for your buck. And working with this committee and these speakers, priceless. But that's an experience for another blog.
My point here is that I worried and agonized over where we would find the speakers that I felt members would want and deserved to have at their conference. Working with the committee, we've all learned something about each other that we didn't know beforehand, and they learned that I must always have something to angst over. But this shouldn't have been one of them. I can't begin to express how excited I am over our roster of speakers and can't wait for you to share my excitement at #FGCAConf09.