In recent months, SNA has received a few inquires from members asking why the Association is holding its 2009 Annual National Conference (ANC) in Las Vegas, given its glitzy and glamorous reputation, one that is at odds with the troubling realities of today’s economy. I would like to take this opportunity to address these concerns.
A couple of years ago, few would have questioned attending a conference in Las Vegas, as the city has taken pains to showcase itself as much more than a haven for gambling enthusiasts. It now has a reputation as both a family vacation destination, as well as a legitimate place to do business. The city has grown to become one of the largest and most affordable cities to host conventions, with more than 9.8 million square feet of meeting and exhibit space citywide and 140,500 hotel rooms. Unfortunately, the slowdown in the economy has understandably caused some of you to give pause about SNA’s choice of this location.
If you had a chance to read your February issue of School Nutrition magazine, I’m sure you were amazed to discover just how much time and coordination goes into planning ANC. In fact, SNA typically selects the location seven to nine years out. So, you may be surprised to hear that the original location for ANC 2009 was actually Salt Lake City!
Although SNA had signed contracts to hold its conference in Utah’s state capital, three years ago, in 2006, the Salt Lake Convention & Visitor’s Bureau broke that contract in order to host a larger national association the same week. The city did not have sufficient hotel and meeting space to support both organizations simultaneously, and after contact from SNA’s legal counsel, it agreed to a financial settlement to pay for the expenses SNA would incur in trying to find a new host site with much less lead time.
This situation left SNA’s management team scrambling to identify and contract conference space in another city in the West, a requirement dictated by the Association’s bylaws regarding conference rotation across the United States. This was not an easy task given such constraints. ANC is simply too large to be hosted in many small and mid-sized cities.
Fortunately, SNA was able to secure exhibit, meeting and hotel space—all under one roof—at the Mandalay Bay Resort. While the mid-July dates when ANC is normally held were not available, the earlier June 29-July 2 dates were deemed a reasonable alternative by SNA leadership representing both operators and industry.
That brings us to where we are today. I am really looking forward to ANC in Las Vegas. Given its own economic struggles, the city is opening its arms to welcome us. The Mandalay Bay has dropped its rates to make it more affordable for ANC participants to attend. I’m seeing news reports almost every day about airfares going down, too. This could turn out to be one of the most affordable ANCs of recent years!
Keep reading this blog—in the days to come, we’ll be posting more information about ANC education sessions, general session speakers, the Final Event and much more about why you can’t miss THIS ANC.
Have you been to Vegas? What are some of your favorite aspects of the city? Share them in the comment section below.
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