Another Environments for Aging Conference is in the books! As I have told many of my compatriots, this is by far the best design conference when it comes to thought-provoking content that is so relevant to senior living. The presenters represent “who’s who” in the senior living world. The intensity of the presenters is matched by the passion of the solutions providers in the trade show as together, they raise the bar of quality for senior living.
In almost every EFA conference I have attended, the quality of the content is only surpassed by the meaningful depth of relationships that come from the networking opportunities. The Las Vegas location for this year’s event had a detrimental impact on those relationship-building opportunities. Once you left the third floor of the convention center at Mandalay Bay, fellow “EFAers” were impossible to find. Instead, one encountered a herd of gamblers, bachelorette parties, unhealthy behaviors, and other visual images that may be difficult to leave behind. Unfortunately, the atmosphere of Las Vegas was not supportive of the hallmarks of the EFA conferences of the past.
Printed in the conference program was the announcement of “same time, same place” for the 2018 EFA. We as a profession spoke up and Emerald Expositions listened. The leadership at Emerald knew that the timing and location of this year’s conference was an experiment. Emerald took the high road, and in all humility, decided that a return to Las Vegas was not in the best interests of the EFA brand. THANK YOU, to Kevin Gaffney and his team, for listening to the customer and making the difficult changes…changes that will probably cost Emerald some money.
The fact that the team at Emerald listened also challenged me to look in the mirror. Are we at SAGE listening to our customers…you, the members? Are we as professionals listening to our customers and clients? Are we listening to our co-collaborators? I challenge myself and those I lead to watch our “question to statement ratio”. If we aren’t at a 5:1 ratio, there is a good chance we are talking more than we are listening. Covey says to seek first to understand, then be understood. We need to be great at asking open-ended questions…and then listening.
Emerald Expositions did just that. They asked the attendees what they thought. We gave our honest feedback and they responded. If only all of our asking and listening opportunities could result in these quality outcomes! Emerald did ask us at SAGE to provide recommendations for locations for next year’s EFA Conference. There is a strong possibility that next year’s conference will be more east coast in location. Please communicate with either our administrative assistant, Lori Bridgeman, or me if you have some thoughts on next year’s location for EFA. We would like a location where senior living is vibrant and one that represents the quality of environments in which we strive.
Thanks for listening…