LP Gas

Nashville makes strong case to be Propane Expo’s new host city

The LP Gas staff fell in love with Nashville last week. So did the rest of the propane industry that attended the Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo.

The state-of-the-art Music City Center blew us away. The food around town still has us talking. And the Broadway experience – just a couple of blocks from the Propane Expo – kept the industry connected and entertained with live music long after the show ended each day.

Over and over at the show, we heard from vendors, marketers and allied trade representatives how much they were enjoying Nashville. The same people remarked how the Music City offers so much more than Atlanta, which has been a long-time home of the southeastern-based show.

Atlanta has been a good home for the Southeastern Convention. The show would not have been held there for more than 60 total years – first as a regional event and later as the national association’s flagship event – if it weren’t a welcoming location for the industry.

But Nashville made a strong argument in its first attempt to become the new Propane Expo home. We, like many within the industry who attended the 2016 show, can’t wait to return to the Music City in 2017. The level of enthusiasm for 2018 isn’t quite the same, though, as the Southeastern Convention returns to Atlanta that year. The show will be held in Atlanta in 2019, as well, before rotating between Nashville and Atlanta in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Everyone I spoke with in Nashville about the show shares the same enthusiasm about the return to the Music City in 2017. As one Propane Expo vendor explicitly told me: The hard part will be leaving Nashville and returning to Atlanta.

Maybe we’ll long for Atlanta again once we’ve experienced two full years of Nashville, but I don’t see that happening. I anticipate the National Propane Gas Association will be flooded with requests for the show to stay in Nashville.

Atlanta, of course, has its advocates who will continue to lobby for the Propane Expo being held in the Peach State. But Nashville, based on merits alone, wins out over Atlanta.

Arguably the biggest advantage Nashville offers is its compact footprint. A number of hotels are within walking distance of the Music City Center, surrounding restaurants and Nashville’s country music scene. The same can’t be said of Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center, which is less centralized and does not offer nearly the range of walkable hotel, restaurant and entertainment options.

Atlanta has a lot going for it, but its hotels, restaurants and entertainment are scattered. Downtown Atlanta shuts down relatively early, while Nashville’s Broadway is buzzing with options late into the night.

I’m eager to see how year two in Nashville compares to this first show in the Music City. Maybe some of that country music charm wears off the second time around. Maybe we’ll long for change after a couple years in the same spot.

But I’d bet against it. The LP Gas staff, for one, is looking forward to its next Nashville experience in 2017.