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February: Recalculating, Recalculating


INOURFEBRUARYISSUE,THE story “More Than Just a Pretty Place” (convn.org/walkable-centers) looked at thetangiblevaluethat a des- tination’s public spaces, including parks and walkable neighborhoods, can provide to a meetings experience. In a sidebar, we used an online tool developed byWalk Score (walkscore.com) to calculate the walkability index of the areas sur- rounding convention centers in select- ed second-tier cities, and shared a list of 15 that had impressive results. Along the way, we learned some-


thing wedidn’t know: Theaddress listed on a convention center’s website sometimes refers to an administrative office in a location that differs from the street address of the center itself. That fact made a difference in our calculations—in some cases, a big one.“We was robbed!” Leonard Hoops, president andCEOof the Indianapolis Convention&Visitors Association, good-naturedly wrote to us after reading in Convene that the Indiana Convention Center had a walkability score of 85. Because when Hoops entered the center’s street address into the walkability calculator —a different address than we used— Indy was a top scorer, with 97 points. Walk Score deems the area around the convention center in Indy no less than a“Walker’s Paradise.” Hoops inspired us to go back and


redo our calculations, making sure this timethat theaddress weused was identical to the physical location of the 15 convention centers. As a result,


We have to conclude that our description ofthe increasing walkability ofsecond-tier cities, ifanything, underreported the trend.


the scores of seven centers went up, someby a point or two, and someby more. The following list includes the corrected scores for those seven centers:


Frontier Airlines Center, Milwaukee 98 Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis 97 Oregon Convention Center, Portland 97 MinneapolisConvention Center 95 Baltimore Convention Center 92 Cleveland Convention Center 94 San Diego Convention Center 88 Houston Convention Center 85


Hoops also alerted us to an


enhanced version of theWalk Score tool, called “Street Smart”Walk Score, which is in beta testing, and includes the number of intersections and the length of city blocks in its cal- culations. (Using “Street Smart” bumped the Indiana Convention Cen- ter up another point, to 98.) Other readers wrote to us about


thestory, including Laura Hill, com- munications manager for the Char- lotte RegionalVisitor Authority, who wondered if we could be more specific about the amenities that determine a venue’sWalk Score. There is a white paper on theWalk Score website (convn.org/walkscore-method) that details the calculator’s methodology, but the short answer is: grocery stores, restaurants, shopping, coffee, banks, parks, schools, books, and entertain- ment.


Our story also noted that the


scores can and do change. According to Aleisha Jacobson, a customer-serv- ice specialist atWalk Score, scores are recalculated every six months. Jacob- son also sent us a link (convn.org/ walkscore-update) with instructions on how individual users can add or remove amenities from theWalk Score database. Finally, we knew that—given the


limited sizeof our list—wewould be leaving out some walkability gems. Brian Hodge, communications and


10 pcma convene April 2012


social-media manager for the ProvidenceWarwick Convention& Visitors Bureau, pointed out one of them to us. “Just read your great arti- clein theFebruary 2012 issue ofCon- vene. I think Providence would have made a great addition to your story,” Hodge wrote. “The Rhode Island Convention Center has aWalk Score of 97(Walker’s Paradise!). And as hometo oneof thecountry’s best design schools, theRhodeIsland School of Design, we pride ourselves on the importance of aesthetics on the visitor, resident, and worker.” Hodge included two more paragraphs packed with links to attractions with- in a 10-minute walk of the center. We have to conclude that our description of the increasing walkabil- ity of second-tier cities, if anything, underreported the trend. And, for the meetings industry, that’s pretty good news indeed.


—Barbara Palmer


PCMA@LinkedIn: Revolutionary Technologies


MARYREYNOLDSKANE,PCMA’s director of onlinemarketing, recently posted this questiontoPCMA’s LinkedIn group:“Having not been in this industry before computers,email, and other revolutionary technologies, I can’t even imaginewhat went into planning ameeting.Today I knowwe can’t live withoutsmartphones and tablets to get our jobs done. After read- ing this article on near-fieldcommuni- cations in Convene (bit.ly/Convene- near-field), I startedtowonderwhat couldbe the next big things that revolu- tionize thewaywedo business.What do you think will happenandwhat do youwant to happen?What tech- nologies have you usedthat you can’t live without now?”


GREATQUESTION,ANDMAKES methink about theconvention name badge! It pretty much had the same look and function before computers.


www.pcma.org


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