“We tend to go a little overboard on welcoming, entertaining, and rain,” said Butch Spyridon, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp., the city that was “all in” for about $2 million (including in-kind services) to host the annual meeting of the American Society of Association Executives in Nashville this week.

The opening night reception—a huge block party at and around the dazzling new Music City Center, the city’s brand new convention center, and its neighboring new Omni Hotel—took place despite torrential rains. The headline entertainer, Dierks Bentley, who performed on an outdoor stage after the rain stopped, received rave reviews from attendees. Spyridon spoke at a press conference on Monday. “Seventy-four percent of attendees have not been to Nashville in the past 15 years.” He explained that the city had gone through an incredible renaissance over the past seven years, but that “it hasn’t lost its heart and soul.”

John H. Graham IV, FASAE, CAE, president and CEO of ASAE, added that Nashville will see a return on investment that could total as much as $500 million in future meetings business. Total registration was just shy of 6,000 on Monday, including 3,142 association executives, the highest number of association executives since ASAE’s annual meeting in Chicago in 2007.

In ASAE news, the board approved a new accommodation policy addressing accessibility at all of its meetings in regard to services for visual impairment, mobility constraints, hearing impairment, housing and transportation, and food allergies. For more details, visit www.asaecenter.org/access.

ASAE has also developed a new diversity and inclusion (D+I) strategic plan that outlines goals such as creating a strategy to increase diversity with the CEO and volunteer leadership as well as a new D&I awards program.

Graham also announced ASAE’s first educational conference to be held outside North America, the Great Ideas in Association Management Conference, which will take place in Hong Kong, March 22–24. It is modeled after the annual Great Ideas conference ASAE holds annually in Orlando.