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AAA Annual meeting is a gas!

Posted on 05/23/2008 by Kristie VanAuken

Whew! I am finally close to being caught up after a 2 ½ day trip to the AAA Annual meeting in Hollywood, Florida.

I was recently appointed to the board of directors of our local Summit county/ Akron AAA- a 110,000 member club with great staff and dynamic board. I wanted to go to the Annual Meeting so I could get to know lots of travel folks from throughout the country (and world actually- I've been invited to the AAA- Australia that is- Club for a little site visit). Plus, I wanted to learn more about what makes one of the most venerable brands in the U.S. tick.

So, off I went on an AirTran Airways flight to Ft. Lauderdale (smooth connections in ATL and friendly flight attendants). The Westin was fabulous and the production of the meeting was top notch. Nothing though, held a candle to the excellent line-up of guest speakers.

Don Tapscott, author of Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, talked about the next evolution (underway now) in how business and communication is done and it's all about collaboration. It was a powerful and provocative talk about how things are changing and how organizations could be left behind if they aren't thinking strategically about how to connect with others and unleash the power of many.

Michael Gallis, a regional economic development expert, demonstrated how our country could be left in China's dust if our national leadership doesn't start thinking strategically about our aging and disconnected transportation infrastructure. Yikes! I know he's right. It takes years/ decades to build things (airports, roads, intermodal ports, etc…) and instead of looking at the future movement of people and goods as an national priority, our elected officials in Washington fund projects that may or may not help position America as an economic leader in the future. To me, this is a mission critical task perfectly suited for the skilled advocacy team at AAA. Sound the alarm, peeps!

Lastly, I really enjoyed George Will's take on politics, aging and health care. I tend to lean slightly left of center politically, and even so, I found his arguments compelling.

Ok, it's time for me to stop, before you get too bored. Let me just wrap up by saying that I am totally jazzed about serving on the AAA Akron board and that exciting things are on the horizon for Club members.

Enjoy the holiday weekend!

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Kristie Van Auken

Kristie VanAuken
Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing & Communications Officer

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