I’m sure there’s a magic formula that NFDA uses to choose the site of their conventions, but while strategy is important – moving geographically so everyone eventually gets a convention in their backyard – I wish there could be a greater emphasis on the economics of it all.

Consider first the hotel situation.  NFDA arranged discounts for blocks of rooms at several nearby hotels.  They started at $140 a night for a hotel that is four miles from the convention center.  The Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) shows that the public transport option for this trip takes an hour and requires a bus ride and transfers to two separate subway lines.  Can you imagine doing that twice every day for the run of the show?

The other hotels are closer, but more expensive, with rates starting at $249 a night.

Compare that with hotels in Las Vegas and Orlando, the last two stops on the NFDA Expo schedule, where decent rooms, close to the convention center, could be had for less than $100 a night.

Yes, Vegas and Orlando are designed for visitors and can’t offer the rich history of a town like Philadelphia or Boston.  But in this economy, it hurts to spend over a thousand dollars for a hotel room that’s still at least a 20 minute walk/subway ride away from the convention center.

Of course, I’m still looking forward to this expo.  I’ve never been to Boston and I believe that many of the customers we didn’t see in Las Vegas and Orlando (whether because they were waiting for this show or because the others were too far away form their Northeast homebases) will turn up and give our quilted cot covers a chance.