There seems to be universal agreement that face-to-face meetings provide an irreplaceable element—schmoozing and social bonding—yet officially, it is all about the content. Can you imagine if—more realistically—the standard travel request was instead accompanied by the justification that a person has four breakfasts, three dinners, a lunch and two bar breaks organized with interesting folks? Or better yet blank reservations waiting to be filled with interesting folks.
My recommendation for planning your annual meeting? Do some research on Chowhound and Yelp about restaurants you would like to try and book a few reservations for two, four or six people-to-be-identified. Then pin a note to your chest that says “I want to talk about [your passionate interest here]” and trawl for messmates. If you are meeting up with old friends, each of you can bring along someone the other does not know.
And, as you do absorb new ideas, think about your colleagues who are unable to attend. The Center for the Future of Museums will be encouraging you to play the game FutureQuest during the meeting, using various media to push content out to the stay-at-homes. Bring your laptop, camera and cellphone and be prepared to blog, post and Tweet about the most exciting ideas you hear. And for those of you who prefer lower-tech communications, stop by the CFM booth in the AAM Membership and Services Pavilion of MuseumExpo and pick up a postcard to mail with your thoughts on the future.