Now for something completely different
This fall, MBTA members, family and friends will be heading to a new location – the Portland Marriott – for the annual fall convention, September 14-16.
The change in location and venue comes after convention attendance has declined during recent years. And there already is excitement building for an urban-themed MBTA outing in the fall.
“Since the organization was founded almost 80 years ago, the convention has been an important event,” said MBTA Convention Committee Chair Tom Gorrill. “It traditionally is a time to celebrate the winding down of the construction season. In recent years, it’s also become an important fundraiser for the MBTA Infrastructure Development Fund.”
He said that the Convention Committee evaluated several things as they began organizing this year’s event – from location and venue to activities. The committee also surveyed several members to get a feel for what would work and what wouldn’t.
“We asked all the hard questions, including why they thought attendance had dropped off during the past two years,” said Gorrill. He noted that, not surprisingly, the economy has been the primary reason. Nevertheless, the members surveyed overwhelmingly wanted to continue the MBTA Convention tradition but in a new setting and with a new, flexible format.
Shopping and activities?
“September is a busy time for many MBTA families with school and sports just getting underway,” said MBTA Executive Director Maria Fuentes. “And we know from the survey responses that everyone is watching their bottom line, so members also liked the idea of being able to just come for one night, and this is more possible if we choose a location like Bangor or Portland.”
The idea of moving the center of convention activities to the Greater Portland region struck a chord with almost everyone the committee interviewed. People like the idea of an urban coastal outing. Also families like having a pool at the hotel, as well as beaches, shopping and recreational activities nearby. That made the choice of the Portland Marriott, near the Maine Mall and just minutes from Portland’s Old Port, a top pick.
With the location and date set, the committee will soon be busy rounding out the convention schedule. This is the time, too, that committee members begin rounding up convention sponsors.
“We are so fortunate to have so many companies willing to sponsor this event. Members really appreciate how important it is to support the association and the Infrastructure Fund that is so close to our mission,” said Gorrill.
The committee also is lining up three days of activities. Plans are to kick off the weekend with a harbor cruise on Casco Bay. “This puts a nice twist on our traditional grand opening reception,” said Fuentes.
Convention Chair Gorrill was quick to note that there are some traditions members said they were unwilling to give up – including the annual golf and cribbage tournaments.
“We want everyone to know that we are preserving the heart of the convention – and that is the time MBTA members get together to celebrate our accomplishments of the season and share time with families and friends.”
MBTA Fall Convention
Friday - Sunday, September 14 - 16
Portland Marriott Hotel, So. Portland