If It's Good Enough for Boise: What We Learned About Dallas From the Outta-Towners

As we mentioned earlier, some of the meeting planners in town for the Association for Convention Operations Management's annual conference took a tour of Dallas this morning. They hit all the, um, hot spots -- meaning, Highland Park, the Arts District and, of course, the Grassy Knoll.

So happened we were downtown today, not far from the Westin City Center, and bumped into a few of the out-of-towners in charge of their own cities' convention centers and visitors bureaus and had the chance to ask them: "So, whadya think of downtown Dallas, anyhow?" To which they responded ...

Here, in no particular order, are some observations, objections and suggestions:

  • Where's the retail? "There's no downtown shopping here," said Judy Burns, a Boise event manager.
  • Dallas still lives large, thinks big. After hearing about the AT&T Performing Art Center, "I was impressed with the commitment to the vision," said Linda Norris, convention services manager for Travel Lane County in Eugene, Oregon. "There are places that might have the same vision but not the strength to make it happen."
  • The holy trinity. "It's clean, the people are friendly, and we felt safe," said Janice Nally, convention and visitor services director for Boise, Idaho.
  • Big bidness. They couldn't help but notice that 7-Eleven and AT&T are downtown-based. We have what they want. Hey, Boise, all you need's an iPhone.
  • This teardown town. On their tour today, they noticed what wasn't there too. Said Burns of Boise, "The only thing we thought was too bad was the destruction of all those old mansions."
  • Say, where's your convention center hotel, anyways? Seriously. "You've got to have a hotel next to the convention center," said Burns. "We're looking at building one in Boise."