My experience as a “newbee” at World Conference

Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club’s Assistant Secretary/ Club Manager, Charles Molony, recently got back from attending his first World Conference, which was held at the Manadalay Bay resort in Las Vegas (4th-8th March 2024).

  1. You recently got back from a week in Las Vegas attending World Conference for the first time, how was it?

It was an exceptional week and probably a career highlight for me. The scale of the conference was something I’d never experienced before and it was quite overwhelming during the first couple of days. The CMAA said it was a record attendance with nearly 4,000 conference attendees including speakers, facilitators, suppliers and vendors.

The education was high level and the array of topics made choosing sessions to attend quite a challenge with at some points four or five sessions taking place at once but during the evenings, we’d often discuss the sessions that others had been able to attend.

As “global guests” the 60-strong CMAE contingent were invited to a number of networking lunches and evenings that took place across the week and these were an excellent opportunity to meet operators from other clubs, along with staff and board members from CMAA. It was great to meet many people I’d previously only met online too.

Whilst the Business Expo, which ran Wednesday and Thursday, was mainly focused on technology, products and services that are only available in the US at the moment, seeing what’s out there and what might be making its way to Europe in the near future was also a worthwhile experience. 

  • All first timers are encouraged to put a bumblebee sticker on their lanyard to show that they’re a “newbee”. This is to encourage conversation with other attendees and other first timers. As a “newbee” were you made to feel welcome? What did CMAA organise for first timers?

I and other “newbees” were made to feel very welcome. There was a first timer orientation session first thing on Monday of the week and then a newbee social that evening where you could meet other first timers. First time attendees made up something like 650 of the total conference attendees so we weren’t alone!

  • What was your highlight of the week?

I had two! Will Guidara’s keynote on “Unreasonable Hospitality” and how he took his New York restaurant was inspirational and thought provoking. Off the back of his talk, I’ve already bought his book and I would say attending his keynote was worth the long trip alone.

The second was the evening networking event that CMAA organised at the recent SuperBowl host stadium, the Allegiant Stadium. 2,000+ of the conference delegates were able to go on the pitch, have food, drinks, mingle, listen to a live band, see the changing rooms, go up to the hospitality boxes and view the pitch from a viewing platform. It was a bucket list evening!

  • Was it all work and no play during the week or did you sample some of the experiences Vegas has to offer?

Absolutely. You can’t go to Vegas and not take in some of the experiences in the evenings. On the evenings when we weren’t invited to organised gatherings, we tended to head out onto the strip in smaller groups and there were plenty of things to do. The CMAE set up a WhatsApp group for all attendees which made organising things very easy.

Before flying back, during the second weekend, I and a few others did a few excursions including a trip to the Baseball and the Grand Canyon’s West Rim!

  • To someone thinking of going, would you recommend attending World Conference?

Yes, absolutely. It’s a mentally tiring week but it felt like a week where you get out what you put in and if you’re willing to give a 100% to the week, you’ll certainly get a lot out of it. I feel not only has the week given me quite a few nuggets to take back and action at the Club, it’s given me a lot of food for thought as my career develops and I become a more experienced manager.