I was a little worried about getting to New Orleans for the Professional Convention Management Association's annual meeting. My flight was supposed to be tomorrow (Sunday), a day and time for which we also have a blizzard warning in effect to the tune of 10 inches or so of snow. Normally, not a big deal, but with a morning flight and a tight connection, I was pretty sure I was doomed to spend a lot of time in airports and likely not getting here until Monday. Not acceptable. (Aside: Do check out this conversation on the Meetings Collaborative discussion board about how and if force majeure could apply to a situation where a show faces attrition because people couldn't get there due to the flooding in the Northwest or the interminable snow/sleet/ice in the Northeast. If I were writing those contracts, I'd try to get some language in about it.)
The new thing I learned today was that an airline can be smart. I know, I know, I tend to bash them endlessly, but US Air did a smart thing today when I called and asked if I could switch my flight to this afternoon and beat the storm. They got me on the flight and didn't charge me the $200-plus cost differential, much less the ubiquitous $100 change fee, because it was weather-related. The flights were only half-full anyway, and as I see it, they were saving themselves from having to deal with at least one ticked off person tomorrow, but I really didn't think they'd do it gratis. Thanks, US Air! But, because I just have to grumble, $2 for a bottle of water?
Another note: I was able to find a hotel as I scrambled to pack and get off to the airport a day early that is closer to the convention center, with a really nice room and free wireless Internet,for just about half of what I'm paying for my in-block room I booked for the rest of my stay. I didn't even have to look hard to find it. And I know of several people who booked outside the block for the same reason. I wonder if PCMA is feeling the pinch of all those low-priced rooms just begging for PCMA-goers to book. I feel kind of stupid for paying so much to be in the block when I initially booked my room, but then again, I also feel like it's the right thing to do. But I doubt many attendees who don't know/understand/care about the room block/attrition dilemma will lose any sleep over it--sleep in their out-of-block rooms, that is. With the economy the way it is these days, I wouldn't be surprised if people were actually directed to book outside the block if cheaper rooms were available. I'd be more surprised if they weren't, frankly.
Anyway, I'm so happy to be here. I love New Orleans--she's been very, very good to me, as I talked about in this editorial--and this is the first time I've been here since Katrina. It will be good to get to know her again.