That was the question asked two weeks out from the start of the annual gathering of a geothermal energy convention taking place in Sacramento. There was a delegation from Kenya that was supposedly coming to the convention, had found rooms in an overflow hotel, and someone from the convention staff was trying to find out where they were staying, yet none could find them in the hotels surrounding the Sacramento Convention Center.
Alas, the next day, after a few phone calls by one of my Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau colleagues, the Kenyans' reservations were located.
So, today, as I walked over to the Sacramento Convention Center to check on the opening of the convention, there just outside the main doors, standing by the fountains, were the Kenyans. A few of them were chatting with other fellow convention participants and I overheard them talking about a specific type of equipment used in the production of geothermal energy.
And that's when I had one of those "wow" moments.
It struck me right there. These guys flew I-don't-know-how-many hours, went through the visa process, customs, etc. to attend this convention in Sacramento, to meet others from other parts of the world so they could talk and learn about geothermal power. They could have just gone online to research the companies, products, and technologies on display. They could have just read similar presentations in trade journals. They could have just emailed the industry experts with whom they hoped to make contact.
Instead, they left their homes, friends, and family. They left their jobs, where work will be waiting for them when they go back home. But, they knew the value of face-to-face interaction. They decided to invest the money and time to make that personal connection.
We have recently seen evidence that demonstrates the ROI of face-to-face meetings. Heck, I have sold and marketed that value my entire adult life. I KNOW meeting and talking and learning with/from others in person is necessary on many levels. I guess just seeing those individuals from half-way around the world, here in Sacramento for these few days of this convention, brought it to a deeper (no geothermal pun intended) level of understanding and appreciation.