The regional meeting cycle for 2007 culminated in late June with the combined Southwest and Western Regional Meeting and the Summer Business Conference in beautiful Horseshoe Bay, TX. Both events were a great success, as was the case with all of this year's regional meetings.
One of my goals for this year was to enhance the focus on regional meetings and to build strong programs and attendance. I am pleased to report that as a result of the hard work of the regional planners, with assistance, when requested, from the staff in Columbus, we've accomplished this goal. There was a significant increase in attendance at each regional meeting, with totals approaching 200 at virtually every event. This is no small accomplishment, as those who have been involved with this important aspect of the HARDI culture for many years will attest. More importantly, the regional planners are not resting on their laurels and met again at Horseshoe Bay to exchange ideas and devise plans to gain even higher regional meeting participation next year. At this writing, we have selected all of the meeting dates for 2008, and I suggest you go to the HARDI website at www.HARDInet.org/events to check out meeting dates and get them on your calendars.
We believe some of the most important reasons for the restored success of the regional meetings are restructured schedules with a primary focus on strong educational programs, wholesaler/supplier mini meetings and a little recreation thrown in for those who desire to join in. The planning and structure of each regional meeting are different from one another, which is crucial as it retains each region's identity, and reflects the diversity and uniqueness of their distribution businesses and markets.
I once again encourage the management of every HARDI distributor to plan on attending their regional meeting in 2008. If it's your first time, I promise you will not be disappointed. If you have not attended for a while, I can assure you will be pleased with the changes and the value received.
I am excited to report that we've accomplished another of my goals by announcing the finalization of site selections for the HARDI Annual Fall Conferences in 2010 and 2011. From Oct. 23 to 27, 2010, we will be meeting at the wonderful Hilton Americas in Houston, TX. This is a great new hotel in the heart of Houston with all of the amenities given by an urban setting. We intentionally selected this venue to precede what will be a fantastic 2011 Annual Fall Conference at the exceptional Grand Whalia Resort on the island of Maui, HI. HARDI will hold this event from Oct. 22 to 26, 2011, and please do not miss it. I, along with many others, have been lobbying for this fantastic venue for a long time, and I am excited that it is on the schedule. If you have not been to this location, it is indescribably beautiful and provides an excellent opportunity to plan a great family vacation to coincide with the annual convention. I understand a number of members are already planning to extend their visit to take full advantage of the opportunity. I promise you will hear a great deal more about these exciting events in the future.