Recently, I had the privilege of visiting Seattle, the city that will be playing host to the Alliance’s more than 800 attendees during our 2013 National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness this February.
As the Alliance’s Director of Meetings and Events, I always visit the host venue for each of our conferences two to three months in advance to get a feel for the space as it relates to our conference schedule, and to choose conference menus and get a general lay of the land.
I hadn’t ever been to Seattle, but I wasn’t shocked to be welcomed by a few rainclouds upon my arrival at Sea-Tac airport. The clouds broke shortly after I made it downtown, however, and I enjoyed sunshine the rest of the day. Here’s hoping we are so lucky in February!
The first thing on my agenda at the hotel was the tasting. I have helped mount a number of the Alliance’s conferences, so I have a pretty good idea what kind of menu items are popular. I always keep our attendees’ preferences in mind (in addition to the Alliance’s budget) when I choose items for the tasting menu.
At the tasting, I was joined by the hotel convention services manager and the hotel chef, who described the menu items – their ingredients, how they’re prepared, etc. – and answered my questions about the food.
I had a chance to sample a bit from each dish on the tasting menu: three first courses, six second courses and three deserts! This is probably the most difficult part of my job here at the Alliance, mostly due to the fact that I need to be rolled out after the meeting.
After the tasting, I chose the conference menus, discussing with the hotel chef various dish modifications to ensure that they’re just right for our attendees. I hope you all like what I chose this year!
Afterwards, the convention services manager and I moved on to the walkthrough, which is a tour of all the spaces in the hotel where our event will be held: the main ballroom, the breakout rooms, our staff office, the meeting foyers, and other spaces.
The walkthrough is extremely important, as it gives me a chance to discuss with the convention services manager how each room should be set, where we want to place certain sessions, information tables, registration, etc. The goal is to ensure it’s as convenient for our group and our schedule as possible.
This may sound simple, but really it is incredible how helpful walking through the space with a firm event schedule in mind is. The process allows you to visualize everything coming together; it’s the last piece of the puzzle.
After the walkthrough, I took a field trip to the campus of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to see where the foundation will be hosting our conference reception.
The trip over to Gates alone was an adventure itself! There is a Seattle Monorail station located just blocks from the conference hotel, and it dropped me only a couple short blocks from the Gates Foundation campus.
The monorail ride took me past the Experience Music Project Museum, which was designed by famous architect Frank O. Gehry. It’s quite the spectacle. Upon exiting the monorail station at my destination I came within steps of the Seattle Space Needle, one of the biggest Seattle tourist attractions. Just peaking at it from afar was pretty neat.
At the Gates Foundation, I was amazed by the cutting-edge, floor-to-ceiling, LEED-certified building, where our reception will take place. Gates is excited to host us and we are grateful to them for inviting all of us to join them in February for what is sure to be a delightful occasion.
That concludes my brief visit to Seattle. It was informative and exciting. I hope that you have a chance to get to Seattle this February for our conference and to see the few sites I was able to take in, as well as the ones I missed (there are quite a few!). If you have not yet registered, make sure to register today!