The National Apartment Association held their annual convention thislast week in Las Vegas at the incredibly accommodating Mandalay Bay
resort. While this was not the first national convention of sorts that
I had been to, it was my first NAA convention and there were some very
impressive happenings going on this week! I learned many lessons this
weekend through observation, and conversation with many friends, my
coworkers at Career Strategies Inc, and other conference attendees.
- Vegas = PRICEY! Just the price of the food here is off the charts to what you would expect. I remember many time people telling me how cheap a vacation to Vegas was if you weren't the gambling type. These people were either fibbers or have not been here since 1978, but that's certainly not the case now
- A bottle of water in the airport costs $4. I mean, I know we're in a desert, but come on. It's not THAT scarce.
- The best food deal in the airport is on the D concourse at the end of the gate set that ends in D26. There is a Chili's Too restaurant there and you can get a huge bag of chips and big container of salsa for under $4. Plus, they let me refill my water bottle for FREE, thus further proving my point that water isn't all rare out here.
- That if you're chosen to win $1000 keep your cool. One poor guy jumped up on the stage and either he broke his ankle or he dislocated it but either way, a foot shouldn't be facing that way.
- If you want to get people's attention and their business or just their business card, vendors, stop standing behind your booth or being afraid/too lazy to get out there and talk. I thought that part of the prerequisite for being a multifamily vendor was to be "A Good Little Talker," but witnessed all evidence to the contrary this weekend. Learn to Juggle, shoot slingshot cows (Yea to my friends at Ellipse Inc for an awesome trade show booth and team!) or even just say "Hey, Hey you, come here!" They want you to want them.
- The Red8 restaurant in the Winds Casino is some of the best Chinese cuisine I've ever eaten. Ever.
- Multifamily folks can P-A-R-T-Y DOWN! Many of the parties I went to/saw were a whole lot more fun than any party I ever attended while in college. Everyone is full of love for their fellow property management people and it's such an accepting environment! I was impressed at the strong bonds of the groups and how everyone was welcomed. It healed over a couple of those scars from being the outcast in Jr. High.
- The Apartment Guide people can throw a more rockin' party than anyone I've ever met! Their party on Friday night at the House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay was AWESOME: The food- Scrumptious! The band - Very great and so easy to dance to! The open bar - well what really can anyone say about an open bar. Open bar pretty much covers it :)
- To meet a tweeter is to hug. I met a great number of the folks who have been conversing with me over the last year on twitter, and every single one of them, without exception, immediately grabbed me up for a huge hug. As Mark Juleen said, "Twitter buddies don't shake hands; twitter buddies hug!" I witnessed directly this weekend how much "social media" relationships are real. Don't underestimate them.
- Shoes are key. More than your business cards, more than your outfit, if you try to do a conference with out proper foot attire, you will experience a foot centric hell like you cannot imagine. My feet are blistered and bruised and I had to sit down and get off them twice on my way down to my flight gate tonight. In retrospect, I shouldn't have worn the dress sandals, but I'm always much smarter in retrospect than I am in the moment.
- Attendance was down. This is a really sad fact honestly. It was a great conference with some amazing sessions and the vendor expo was awesome, and yet from what I was told, attendance was down by 50% this year. I know it was a tough year out there for everyone in this economy, but those of you who didn't go really missed something remarkable. The more our industry connects at conferences, through twitter and sites like Multifamily Insiders, the stronger we are. I'm hoping that by next year, NAA will have some better advertising and marketing for the event. I was surprised at how little online work was done to promote the conference, and while I know that attendance did suffer due to the economy, I also think that stepping up the marketing a little bit would be advantageous. Please read the comment on the bottom of this post, that number of 50% is NOT correct. It came from several different sources, but none of them were correct. Sometimes as a journalist, checking 3, 4, or even 9 sources isn't enough. My most sincere apologies to both my readers and the great folks at NAA who have informed me that my conference numbers were not correct. "It was actually only down by 20% over the last time we went to Vegas and only 1% over last year's registrations," according to Michelle Childers, who sits on the NSC and was kind enough to share those numbers. Thank you very much, Michelle!
If I didn't get to see you at NAA this year, then let's hold out together for New Orleans next year! I've decided I'll be there. Will you?