Thursday, May 20, 2004

A backstage peek at the hustle and bustle

Here at ASTD we're in the final countdown for the 2004 International Conference and Exposition, taking place this Sunday through next Thursday (May 23-27th) at the Washington, D.C., Convention Center. (For anyone interested, walk-on registration is available.)

I thought I'd give you all a little backstage peek at what goes into putting together this conference, which brings thousands of workplace learning and performance professionals together for 300 sessions in 9 tracks, plus 18 preconference workshops, 6 conferences-within-a-conference, 88 author signings and chat sessions, the largest EXPO floor in the industry (55,400 square feet), and the ASTD store that has nearly doubled in size from last year (17,000 square feet this year).

To give you a visual image of how large this all is--in the store, there will be 25,000 books from the ASTD Press and other publishers, 10,000 Infoline issues, 1000 audio recordings of conference sessions and books on tape, and 3000 logo items. The EXPO will have 340 companies to visit, 130 of which are new this year.

As you can imagine, things have been a bit frenetic for the past few weeks. All of the ASTD staff have been hard at work getting their piece of the puzzle ready. From where I sit, I have a view of the hard-working store staff who have been receiving, unpacking, inventorying, and repacking the contents of scores of boxes--not to mention wrapping and labeling the contents. Some of us in the content department helped out with a little of that--but our assistance was just a small part of a process that's been going on for weeks.

Between the store staff and the education department gathering the binders, books, and papers for various educational offerings, the halls of the sixth floor have been filled with boxes piled higher than I am--so high that you couldn't see the staff member whose desk was behind them. Most of the boxes are now cleared out, having been loaded earlier this week into the truck that took them to the D.C. Convention Center.

I and the other members of the T+D magazine staff have transformed for the conference into newspaper reporters. This year there will be a conference daily newspaper each day that will provide feature articles about speakers, awards, the ASTD 60th anniversary celebration, the EXPO, the launch of the ASTD Competency Study, and more. In addition, the paper will include program updates, D.C. tourist info, attendee interviews, puzzles and trivia, and more.

I'll be scurrying around working on the daily, attending sessions, and meeting with suppliers, so I won't have a whole lot of time to blog, but I'll try to post at least one entry from on site and one wrap-up when I return. I know Jay Cross will most likely be covering the conference as well on his Internet Time blog.

If any blog readers are at the conference, please do come up and say hi. I'll be wearing an ASTD name tag. And if you're interested in getting published in an ASTD book, T+D magazine, Learning Circuits, or Infoline, make sure to attend the sunrise session on Sunday at 7:30 a.m. to find out how.


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