How the American Planning Association Brought Innovation to Its 2017 National Planning Conference

Author: Barbara Palmer       


Event Details

May 6–9, 2017
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York City


New York City may have a reputation of being hard to navigate, but Alena Frey, CMP, who has been with the American Planning Association (APA) for more than a decade, called the recent annual meeting at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center “the smoothest show I’ve worked on.” Frey, APA’s meetings and conference manager, gave credit to the city itself — a great fit for the more than 6,200 urban planners, designers, educators, students, and allied professionals who attended — and to convention center-staff.


One of APA’s goals, according to Deene Alongi, director of meetings and conferences, was to offer attendees new experiences. (Read our Pre Con profile.) APA used the subway, along with other rail lines, as well as walking and biking routes, for the program’s mobile workshops, which took attendees everywhere from the United Nations to farms in the Hudson River Valley. Eliminating the cost of motor coaches allowed APA to reduce workshop costs to attendees by as much as 50 percent.


First-time attendee Colton Berck — who graduated with a master’s degree in community and regional planning from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln the day before the conference began — was a fan of  the show floor’s “Startup Station,” featuring new planning technology. “Planners do the community thing pretty well,” Berck said, “but we need to stay on top of technology.”


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