I confess this conference was more about meeting and greeting than it was about sessions . . . but here are some overall impressions.

By Steve Moran

I confess, for me, this conference was more about meeting and greeting than it was about sessions. I also spent a lot of time on the exhibit floor. Some Impressions:

  • I am going to confess that Annie Leibovitz keynote did not do a lot for me. And that is not to take away from my many friends who loved it. It was not horrible in that there were a lot of fascinating images and some of her anecdotes were interesting and even humorous.  

    I only offer this up because I want those of you who are in my boat to know you are not alone in feeling less than totally impressed.  

    I think for me, a bit the challenge was the nudity that would have been offensive from a lesser figure (particularly given the religious roots of many LeadingAge organizations). I was also troubled by how she made using mescaline sound pretty cool.

  • The tradeshow floor was huge. It took more than a full day to traverse it, with lots of stops for conversation along the way. Three big specific impressions . . .

    • There are a bunch of companies that have much bigger booths this year than last. This suggests a pretty fair amount of prosperity on the senior living provider side allowing them to support the vendor community — or, if you are a glass half empty person, you would see this as an act of desperation — though in talking to vendors and providers my sense is that overall, senior living is economically healthy.

    • Technology continues to grow as a percentage of vendors to the senior living space. I think the challenge is figuring out which technology without question provides benefits to residents and team members or reduces costs, which technology is interesting and cool but at the end of the day does not really make things better . . . and, in fact, adds costs, complexity and becomes an additional burden on staff.  

      We are for sure a number of years away from finding clarity in this area.

    • It is by far and away the largest of the three trade show floors in terms of the number of vendor booths (compared to Argentum and AHCA/NCAL). It is no wonder since the show attendance is much bigger, but it is also because decision makers spend more time on the tradeshow floor.

      For many, particularly smaller organizations, it is the one time they really check out new offerings.

  • The economic health of the not-for-profit world seems to be excellent. I talked to a lot of operators who have little or no occupancy challenges, though I would acknowledge that it is human nature that we like to talk about our successes more than our challenges, at least in business gatherings.   

    And I would note, that I do know there are some not-for-profits that are facing some significant challenges.

  • Finally I would be remiss to not talk about the parties. There are too many to count, I know I didn’t get invites to them all (not sure why that is . . . grin). It is always that Monday night that is the big night out. I managed to get to 5 and had two on my list that I couldn’t get to. They are not for everyone I know, but I would offer to vendors and providers alike that even if all you do is drink soda water, attending these parties is the single best way I know to start meaningful conversations and make new friends.

I can already hardly wait until next year, which will be much better since it is only a 75-minute flight from home.

P.S.  And I set myself a goal of doing a bunch of photos, you can find them on LinkedIn.