A record crowd is gathered in Las Vegas for Convening Leaders, the annual meeting of the Professional Convention Management Association. While the final headcount isn’t in yet, PCMA President and CEO Deborah Sexton said Monday that the meeting has “without a doubt” drawn the highest number of attendees for a PCMA annual meeting to date.

Sexton credited Las Vegas, in part, for the high numbers. In fact, said keynote speaker Renee West, President and CEO of Luxor Las Vegas and Excalibur Hotel and Casino, conferences generally see a 13 percent uptick in attendance when they book Las Vegas. “We think that will hold true for PCMA as well,” she said.

Other factors drawing people to this year’s conference might include innovations PCMA has put in place, including co-locating the show with the Virtual Edge Summit, which will run on Wednesday and Thursday, and experimenting with the educational formats. For example, the conference “Learning Lounge” opened from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. on Monday with a continental breakfast and variety of concurrent, 15-minute, peer-to-peer roundtable discussions and supplier presentations. Peer discussion topics included food-and-beverage trends, careers, innovation, social media, and technology. A speed-networking event and speaker showcase were also part of the Learning Lounge, and the area also is home to the PCMA365 Livestreaming Studio, where host Glenn Thayer interviewed session leaders for the meeting’s virtual audience. Despite the early hour, many attendees cited the Learning Lounge as one of the highlights of the day, and the area was set to open again on Tuesday morning and afternoon.

At the press conference, Sexton announced that the PCMA board of directors had approved Boston as the site for the 2014 conference, and Chicago for 2015. PCMA had previously announced that the annual meeting will be in San Diego in 2012 and Orlando in 2013.

PCMA also presented the 2010 PCMA Chairman's Award to Colin Reed, Gaylord Entertainment chairman and CEO, to recognize his leadership during the flooding last spring of the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, its reconstruction, and reopening in November. Reed accepted the honor during yesterday's general session but gave credit to his team of "stars" (what Gaylord calls its employees) for their vital role in the property's recovery.