After I spent 48 hours in Calgary, it was 24 hours in Portland. AWRA Executive Director
Ken Reid flew in to check out prospective venues for our 2013 annual conference, which I will chair. I decided to accompany him on his visits.
One of the venues was the downtown Hilton (breakfast hosted by Susan Renner and Susan Henberry) which kindly comped me for a Sunday night stay so I would not have to arise early Monday morning and battle rush-hour traffic. The others on our itinerary were the Doubletree (lunch with Jenny Baird) and the Red Lion at Jantzen Beach (Cyndi Holloway).
Our guide for the day was Desiree (Des) Everett of Travel Portland, an organization that functions as Portland’s convention and visitors bureau. Des knows her stuff and was a delightful person.
Ken has been doing this – negotiating with hotels – for about 30 years. It’s amazing to watch him work – a true artiste. He seemingly knows everyone in the business – a great icebreaker – and has a great sense of humor and timing. He knows when to push and when not to, when to joke about something and when to get serious (no room set-up fees, please!), when to slather praise and when to ease up.
Internet charges in the meeting space? No way! Resort fees? Don’t even think about them! Fees to in-house A-V providers if we choose to use another vendor? In your dreams! Unreasonable food and drink minimum? HA!
The day was topped off by a great dinner courtesy of Des and her boss, Mike Smith. It was great learning from them about how Portland is marketed to the outside world. It was especially fascinating to hear how Mike devised a marketing alliance among Portland, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee – a trio of cities that don’t really compete against each other but have similar characteristics. It has worked very well.
Unexpected treat: saw former student Tara Davis at the Doubletree where she was attending a conference.
Check out the food and drink I accumulated – from the Hilton and Travel Portland. I actually benefited from Ken’s inability to take the ‘adult beverages’ back on the plane so he gave me his share. Mary Frances and I will have some cookies for our after-dinner teas for a while.
So who’s the winner? We’ll have to see what the revised bids are.
Homey had a great day and learned a lot – back in Corvallis by 9:30 PM.
“Homey don’t do room set-up fees.” – Ken Reid