I have to start with a little humor . . . at least to me.

This is the one senior living event where having and wearing your badge is absolutely mandatory.  Not only are sessions not available without a badge, but many of the common areas of the hotel are off limits without badges. This is for good reasons; while there are some really good presentations, people mostly come to NIC to meet and be met, see and be seen. So it would be possible to never attend a session and not pay a dime, which would be unfair to the NIC organization.

The badges have both first and last names printed in letters large enough to read from a distance. Organization names are also printed, but in a much smaller font.  In addition, the badge lanyards are color coded by type of attendee.  This is a great idea but it turns out that no one seems to quite remember which color means what.

The Furtive Glance

Because everyone is trying to make the most of their time, scanning people’s badge has become something of a sport (and I confess I am a player).  The question that everyone is constantly asking is this:

It that someone I want to connect with?

There is a quick look at a badge for name and company, then a quick mental calculation,  “Do I take a shot at introducing myself?.”  It is not always an easy equation and not everyone has the same goals.  Some are looking for operators and others for equity, debt or both kinds of financing.

What becomes humorous is to watch how people put this into play.  Some are blatant: they turn their head, look at the name then decode the results.  Others (like me) work really hard to use only my eyes so that people will not see how shallow and crass they/we are.

And yes . . . there are a few people who don’t care or whose connection value is so huge they don’t need to or want to play the game.

But each time I walk the halls I am humored to watch how people do the “NIC look” and I wonder what my own looks like.

Marketplace Observations

Without reservation the NIC participants are ebullient with enthusiasm for the strength of the sector.  Just a few data points:

  • This NIC has the highest attendance of any NIC conference ever with more than 2,000 attendees.
  • There are more than 500 first timers.
  • The mix of attendees is:
    • 43% operators/developers
    • 40% Capital providers
    • 12% transactional people (attorneys, consultants, etc)
    • 5% other which would primarily be vendors
  • There is a sense that, with the increasing availability of capital, we are likely to see an increase in development.
  • While there is some private concern that we will see some overbuilt market areas, the general belief is that, if it happens at all, it will not be widespread.
  • Most of the current development is taking place in just 10 of the 31 metro markets that NIC watches. This makes me think there could be some tremendous opportunities in at least some of those other 21 markets.

I have the great and humbling privilege to sit with a number of senior living leaders and let them tell me about what they are doing.  The passion for seniors and creating great experiences for the seniors they serve is inspiring.  Over the next weeks we will be sharing some of those stories.

Steve Moran