The New Omni PGA Resort in Texas is the Perfectly Sized Destination to Facilitate Business Connections

As I hope you’ve heard, the 2023 FEDA Annual Conference will be presented Oct. 24-27 at the new Omni PGA Resort in Frisco, Texas. I also hope you’ll attend this conference, as its location, format and content will epitomize what FEDA has learned from attendees over the past several years (and the last 30) regarding what they really need and want from the FEDA conference. I’m eager to share how the journey we’ve been on is shaping where we’re going for this important annual conference.

In the past, FEDA’s conferences were spread over too many days and the weekend. Historically the conference was a family event, so this worked. However, over time, FEDA members’ preferences shifted to focusing on business while they were at the conference and vacationing with their families separately. As a result, the FEDA conference now takes place over about three days instead of the previous five.

The previous conference duration also made it difficult to continue the popular FEDA golf event, as it was traditionally held on Saturday. In 2022, we reintroduced the golf outing and moved it to a weekday at the beginning of the conference, enabling attendees to enjoy an elevated golf experience at legendary venues like Torrey Pines.

In addition, attendee consensus is that the opening night dinner is situated perfectly as a prelude to the rest of the week and that member recognition at the FEDA Gold Awards Breakfast is a positive and worthwhile conference activity. Further, FEDA’s conference attendees feel the legislative presentations and receptions for congressional members and their staff during the conference are essential to support the association’s mission to advocate on behalf of the industry.

With those things said, here are some of the challenges we’ve had and the resulting changes we’re making for the 2023 and future conferences based on final attendee feedback, including requests to return to some popular activities from years ago that were lost over time.

First, it’s important to talk about the historical and recent locations of the FEDA conferences. FEDA conferences were presented for more than 30 years at the sprawling resort properties of one hotel chain. This long-term relationship with one chain was problematic in terms of cost management and client control over the venue. The enormous size of those properties also made it difficult to allow for new committees, activities and projects. There simply were not enough human beings to staff and manage all of these new concepts at such large venues.

Being at a resort wasn’t the problem. Being at such large, unaccommodating resorts at such a high cost was. This led us to try some new urban locations for the FEDA conference during the last several years – one in Nashville and the other in San Francisco – and the experience taught us more about the value of resort vs. urban destinations. One unfortunate aspect we came to understand is that the overall increase in urban crime across the United States is being felt by attendees at conferences in major cities such as Denver and Chicago.

Although the urban locations provided more business intimacy within the hotel, our city activities and the narrower amenity options in the hotels actually diminished the core purpose of being at the conference: business. While the expansiveness of those “too-large” resorts sometimes pulled people apart, attendees generally stayed on the property to network and regularly bumped into each other at highly frequented spots within those properties. Given our organization’s size and goals, we needed something in between mega resorts and in-the-city hotels.

From all of this we’ve learned that no matter where we are, the mission of the FEDA conference is to facilitate the highest level of networking and business possible between attendees. Therefore, in 2023 and 2024, we’ve identified venues that combine the best of both types of locations. The Frisco (2023) and Colorado Springs (2024) venues are beautiful resorts with full amenities that are exactly the right size for FEDA conferences. These resorts are in private settings that provide for ongoing attendee gathering and constant networking.

These changes and more will mean many networking opportunities will be built into those three days of the conference. The general sessions will continue to highlight big industry-related opening and closing keynote speakers and restaurant association special guests and will include more member participation through dealer and manufacturer-led sessions, including boot camp sessions. The conference will also return to offering the popular topical roundtables (attendees choose from topics) in the afternoon.

We think the FEDA conference will, more than ever before, provide the right place to network and build business while continuing to offer high quality educational programming. Please tell us how we can help you and your team participate.