Patience, perseverance key

May 1, 2008 By    

Jennifer Tomb was thrown into the whirlwind of unknowns following a March 14 tornado in Atlanta that jeopardized the Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo. The storm struck downtown two weeks before the propane industry’s biggest show, severely damaging the Georgia World Congress Center.

Tornado damage to the Georgia World Congress Center on March 14 in Atlanta. (ISTOCKPHOTO.COM)
Tornado damage to the Georgia World Congress Center on March 14 in Atlanta. (ISTOCKPHOTO.COM)

“This was a once-in-a-million type situation,” said Tomb, director of conventions and meetings for the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA). “We weren’t really sure how it would impact the show. It was a nail-biter there for a while.”

NPGA was in constant contact with officials from the Congress Center and the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Congress Center had sustained extensive glass and water damage, and decisions needed to be made. NPGA waited to hear that it was OK to proceed with the event March 29-31.

“We basically said at this point everybody had invested so much time that if we could still hold a quality show we were going to go forward with it,” Tomb said. “It’s too important of an event not to have held.”

Several changes had to be made for the event to continue. The trade show was relocated to Building C of the Congress Center, and the floor plan was redrawn. Truck exhibitors moved in overnight Saturday before the show began Sunday, and the opening reception was moved from the show floor to an outer lobby. In addition, because the Omni Hotel was badly damaged, some attendees were moved to the Marriott when another group cancelled.

“We relied on a lot of people down there,” Tomb said of Atlanta. “There were a lot of key players who helped to make it work.”

Tomb said NPGA received positive feedback from attendees after changes were made, and she noted the patience people showed as answers were being sought.

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