For me, heading to Vegas is always a mixed bag. While it’s not exactly my style, when I’m there I can’t help but marvel at “all things Vegas.” From the indescribable array of people, to the excess of absolutely everything—food, sounds, lights, and activity—it’s impossible for me not to become a spectator of all that surrounds me. Leaving the circus of the casinos and entering the efficient, calm-yet-invigorating atmosphere surrounding Smart Monday at IMEX America 2017, held at the Sands Convention Center, was the sensory equivalent of stepping out of a blizzard and into a dessert.
The organizers really got it right this year. From the meditation room with its tranquil, soothing lighting and chair massages, coupled with guided meditation and comfortable seating, to the thought-provoking educational sessions, there was something for everyone. For those focused on business, free headshots were offered courtesy of the Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. Visit Norfolk captured the hearts of many with its “Paws for a Break” mini dog park, where a variety of dogs played, rolled over for tummy rubs, and eagerly licked attendees who came to visit. Nothing recalibrates and brings a person back to center better than a wet nose and a face lick.
So many warm hugs and huge smiles were shared, squeals of delight and exclamations of, “I didn’t know you were going to be here!” filling the halls, it was hard not to feel buoyed by the energy and enthusiasm. People were talkative and friendly, made eye contact rather than looking down at their phones, and were eager to engage and connect. It felt like a reunion where you simply hadn’t met everyone yet.
With so many people in attendance, it’s also impossible not to run into someone who you’d rather not see. That jolt of uncomfortable is a fantastic reminder of how we want to be treated, how we treat others, the legacy we are creating, and that there is always an opportunity to right a wrong, repair a relationship, and be a bigger person. Challenge yourself to do the hard thing, as that’s almost always also the right thing.
There was a session for everyone. From back-of-the-house tours to learning how to play, offerings were smart, varied, and targeted to all the personalities in attendance. There was clearly some real thought put into the classes, the timing, and the structure of the day. That careful planning paid off as people genuinely took advantage of the abundance of offerings.
As an industry, we can be fragmented, frustrated, competitive, and too busy to make the time to connect with each other. Smart Monday was warm and inviting and energetic and happy and welcoming. For those who attended and made the day what it was, thank you for the wonderful experience. For those who were unable to attend, mark your calendars for next year. It’s worth the trip.