Second, in order to put on a great event the event has to run well. In order to do that we need to be very organized. We recently changed how we planned for our fall and spring conferences in order to ensure that we were as organized as possible. The things that we could plan for went very well in this regard. Things were on time. Technology worked. People were where they were supposed to be. That may not seem like a big deal but it is. You can have the greatest content, but if you roll it out poorly that’s all people will remember. I think that this is a true testament the teamwork and effort that went into planning and executing the event. Ideas are easy. It’s execution that is hard. The team tasked with executing the plan did a great job executing.
Third, you have to handle the curve balls. While I think we had relatively few last week we did have the room fill up with smoke and the fire alarm go off when the hotel apparently decided to smoke test the sewer in the new bathrooms in an effort to find the leak. Luckily it seemed to clear up relatively quickly after we got them to stop. I know that wasn’t a pleasant environment so I want to thank everyone, members and staff alike, for making do with the situation. The hotel was very apologetic, and I think they may be even more responsive to our requests for next year.
Lastly, in order to ensure that we provide a good conference experience, we need to make sure that we provide members adequate time for both networking with your municipal utility peers and interacting with our associate members. It also has to be a valuable experience for those associate members. We will continue to evaluate that process to ensure that you have that chance both in a formal and informal setting. Yes, I would expect that means hospitality rooms will continue to be around.
We will continue to work on improving the conference experience for our members. In that regard, I have heard a lot of great suggestions from staff, members and associate members. What I find exciting is that almost all of the suggestions are what I would label improvements to good things, not corrections to things that went wrong. I think that’s a big deal because when you aren’t having to worry about things that went wrong you can really focus on making the experience increasingly valuable to everyone involved. That allows us to focus on truly raising the bar in order to improve our members’ experience rather than correcting our errors.
I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to thank the association staff who had such a big part of making last week happen. A few months back I asked Jill Soenen to take on the additional duties of organizing and managing the Energy Conference. Jill did a great job of keeping us all (including me) on target leading up to and during the conference but it was no doubt a total team effort. Many were involved in the preparation doing things like suggesting topics, soliciting speakers, arranging sponsors, and contacting associate members. Others were responsible for helping out during the conference by making sure all the things that need to happen on site did happen without any hitches. And still others were responsible for taking care of business back at the office. For me the best part of the whole thing is the ability be confident that all aspects of any event like this are taken care of.
Once again thanks to all those that were able to attend, to our associate members who had displays in the vendor show, and to our sponsors. I look forward to continue to improve our conferences so that they continue to be valuable experiences for everyone.