Be nice, Dallas — and talk up the placePosted 07/12/2012
by Steve Blow
How's your foot? If it's a good one, Dallas needs it.
The city will try hard to put its best foot forward next month when thousands of association executives convene in Dallas. While here, they will be deciding whether to bring their own conventions to town in the future.
If Dallas impresses, it could mean half a billion dollars in new convention business over the next 10 years.
"It's the Super Bowl of meetings," said Phillip Jones, president of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau.
So local tourism officials are looking for hundreds of volunteers to help meet, greet and charm the 5,000 people attending the American Society of Association Executives gathering.
The convention meets Aug. 11-14 - and what a lovely time of year in Dallas.
Oops. There I go, being sarcastic and negative. I'm not supposed to do that. I'm now officially trained to be upbeat and positive about this area.
As part of the preparations for the upcoming convention, I sat in on a class this week with folks training to become Certified Tourism Ambassadors.
So let me try that again: The convention meets Aug. 11-14 - and what a sunny time of year in Dallas!
Ah, yes. Much better.
It is funny how we all tend to bad mouth our own cities. A prophet is without honor in his own hometown - and even the hometown doesn't fare too well.
I must admit that doing the required reading about the area for the Certified Tourism Ambassador class gave me a fresh take on all the area has to offer. I've got to get out more.
My wife and I have often talked about how eagerly we explore museums and quaint corners of the cities we visit on our travels. But here at home, it seems like we seldom find the time or energy to drive across town for an interesting exhibit or to explore fresh territory.
Well, if you want to get enthused about Dallas and its environs again, this is a good time. Local officials are really counting on Dallas folks to outdo themselves in talking up the city and welcoming the association executives.
"One of the strongest selling points about Dallas is our hospitality," said Jones. "We want to ramp that up even more than usual."
About 400 volunteers are needed for a variety of roles, most of which require no other skill than being your own charming self.
Planners are especially hoping to get all the local Certified Tourism Ambassadors out in force. They're trained in local lore. Did you know the ATM was invented in Dallas? Neither did I.
And they're also trained in effective customer service - like saying a simple "You're welcome" instead of the irksome "No problem."
By the way, if controversy over the convention center hotel left you with misgivings, this statement might be worth noting: "We would not be here this year if that Omni Hotel had not been built," said John Graham, CEO of the American Society of Association Executives.
The ASAE last met in Dallas in 1963.
And, really, don't fret about the August heat. The ASAE always meets in August because it's the one month that other associations don't meet.
"People are used to going to our meetings in August, and it's hot," Graham said.
All events will take place indoors. And Jones said there should be plenty of chances to brag that air conditioning was invented in Dallas.
Now there's a real tourism ambassador for you.
Follow Steve Blow on Twitter at @DMNSteveBlow.
If you are interested in volunteering as a greeter or in some other role for the ASAE annual meeting, call 214-571-1376 or visit asaedallas.com/volunteer.