Celebrities and conventions

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Here's an interesting articlein today's Boston Globe about how conventions here in the hub of the universe are getting pretty star-studded these days. This is mainly because of the size of conventions the city is bringing in now with the new convention center, it says. From the article:

    There was a time when meeting organizers thought less about "exciting" than "useful." Professionals attended conferences to network, stay current, maybe get a break from the routine. But at a time when conferences in this city are growing both in number and size, professional groups are vying with one another to grab celebrities - both as speak ers and performers - to increase their chance of drawing a crowd.

    "What drives the conference business is attendance and corporate sponsorship," says Joyce Kolligian, executive director of the annual Simmons School of Management Leadership Conference in Boston, which has signed up singer Gloria Estefan as the May 3 keynote speaker. "And if you are going to do the record-breaking numbers . . . you need celebrated names to get the draw."

    "Everything is about what speaker can you get, what political leader can you get, what entertainer can you get," said Pat Moscaritolo, president of Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Unless there is real sizzle, people don't think there is any steak there."

I'd like to think it's still about the steak, not just the sizzle, but Pat may have a point. While it's been going on forever, now that people expect to be entertained along with their education, the star-studded convention is likely to keep growing, even when the stars chosen have absolutely nothing to do with what the conference is about.

But it was interesting to hear that Oprah can be a stage hog: One conference organizer said she just went on and on until her friend Gayle King got out the hook.

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