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A Few Facts About CHA-Summer 2009

I want to try to clear up a few things about the information about CHA-Summer 2009, because I’m seeing a lot of complaints and speculation online in various forums and much of it has little basis in actual fact.

The only thing that has been announced by CHA about their new plans for CHA-Summer 2009 is the move to Orlando and that there will be two days of consumer show. There has been no definition created by CHA yet of what exactly “consumer show” will mean, and in fact CHA is in the process of holding a series of conference calls with CHA members to try to define that.

There is actually precedent, especially in the consumer electronics industry, for consumer shows that are display only, with no sales, to show off the latest and greatest products. So we just don’t know yet exactly what that part of the event will entail. No assumption should be made yet that CHA’s definition of consumer show will be something like a Memories Expo or Creating Keepsakes Convention. It could mean no consumer sales, or those days could conceivably even get called off based on the conference call feedback from members if that is negative enough.

I definitely see why a lot of people can’t imagine this turning out to be a good idea no matter what the specifics end up being, but no specifics have been set. We’ll just have to wait and see.

I’ve heard a lot of talk about the undesirability of Orlando as a home for the event. It’s understandable of course that people local to Chicago would be upset about the venue change but I’m also hearing complaints about the Florida heat and concerns about safety in Orlando that I would like to address.

Most of you know that I live in Florida – about two hours outside Orlando. I frequently travel down to the city both as a tourist and to attend conventions (both scrapbook and other types). Orlando’s tourist areas are safe – or no more dangerous than any other tourist areas, such as the one around the convention center in Anaheim. Orlando has a reputation as a city with problems but those problems – the soaring murder rate, etc – are rooted in the city’s low-income residential neighborhoods. As long as you don’t plan on sightseeing in those neighborhoods (far removed from the tourist areas), and observe basic personal safety precautions like not walking alone after dark in the tourist areas, you should have no concerns.

As far as the heat, my experience when attending work-related events in Orlando has been that I am barely outside except to walk from the car to the convention building and then from the car into the hotel – only a few minutes a day, so the heat outside doesn’t matter. And I know the south has a reputation for being backwards, but Orlando’s hotels and convention centers do actually have that new-fangled air conditioning thing. Honest. And we use it – Florida’s carbon footprint isn’t very earth-friendly in the month of July. I’d actually advise bringing a sweater for when you are indoors, in fact. We set our thermostats to polar bear friendly temperatures. Just because we can.

Orlando has a lot of competitively priced convention space, abundant affordable lodging, and is one of the cheaper airline destinations in the country. It’s a very popular convention destination year-round, for a wide variety of industries.  Why shouldn’t CHA take advantage of that? They may even be trying to attract more international buyers to the show by scheduling it during the traditional summer vacation period in Europe, and in a popular (and currently very affordable) vacation destination for those buyers. Attracting those buyers might inject much-needed life into the show.

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