Hurricane Charley may be bearing down on the West coast of Florida, but that hasn't stopped an intrepid and impressive group of Internext exhibitors and attendees from beginning to gather at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, Florida for the annual summer convention.
I arrived the day before yesterday to lots of worry about Bonnie and Charlie, but so far the weather has behaved itself. Yes, the surf is strong and the beach that usually extends several meters from the sea wall adjoining the hotel is gone, but the skies are clear and the general feeling seems to be that there are far worse places to wait out a storm that this gorgeous and accommodating hotel.
Last night, there were a couple of opening night functions and parties, all of which went off without a hitch. ASACP held it's first ever Sponsor Appreciation Party, that also included a presentation by Brandon Shalton of a new feature called how Clean is Your Traffic.
Earlier in the evening, Internext itself hosted its first-ever exhibitor appreciation party in conjunction with the Westin Diplomat and BH&L Decorators Inc. (the subcontractor for the trade show's design). Two third-floor suites and the contiguous outdoor balconies brimmed with attendees who chatted animatedly about everything except the weather. An open bar and a delightful selection of hot pastas, breads, and fresh veggies pleased the palate and filled the air with delectable scents.
"We are exceptionally pleased with the turnout," enthused Internext Trade Show Manager Renee Johnson, noting that this was the first official party of its kind, although an informal, impromptu gathering occurred at last summer's Internext. "There are lots of familiar faces and many, many new ones. I'm sure this is something we will continue to do."
The evening also featured the GFY warm-up party in the grand Ballroom of the hotel, which was well-attended by a happy crown of recent arrivals. It provided a perfect jumping off point for the show.
As we write, exhibitors are putting the finishing touches to their booths. The show floor is open and there is a great show brewing.