The 2018 American Lighting Assn. (ALA) Conference, to be held September 24-26 at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC, is your chance to reinvent your business, reawaken your drive and revitalize your spirit.
In addition to networking and educational opportunities, this year's conference promises cool sightseeing activities you won't want to miss. Here’s what you need to know about attending.
ALA Conference General Info
- All keynotes, educational seminars and panels
- Monday Welcome Reception
- Tuesday breakfast, lunch and exhibit viewing
- Wednesday breakfast, networking lunch and closing dinner
*Good to know: Guest/spouse registration includes access to keynotes and meals but not the specialized lighting sessions. A-la-carte tickets to individual guest-friendly events are available in lieu of full guest registration.
Hotel and reservations
Omni Grove Park Inn
290 Macon Ave.
*Good to know: The ALA group rate of $249 per night for run-of-the-house rooms and upgrades starting at $279 ends Aug. 24, 2018.
**Insider tip: Sign up as an Omni Select Guest to receive perks like complimentary in-room Wi-Fi, bottled water and more.
The Asheville Regional Airport is only 17 miles from the resort, but other nearby airports might be more convenient or offer lower rates. Greenville-Spartanburg is 70 miles from the resort while Tri-Cities Regional and Charlotte, NC, are 76 and 120 miles away, respectively. Transportation to the resort is available through Accents on Asheville. Contact them at [email protected], 800-627-1185 or AccentsOnAsheville.com/transportation.
*Good to know: Conference attendees who want to do the driving themselves can take advantage of ALA’s discounts on rentals:
- Alamo—BY #529118
- Avis—AWD #B608500
- Budget—BCD #Z663400
- Hertz—CPD #089817
- National—Disc. #5021601
Leave your business suits at home. Social events are resort casual, and seminars and daytime meetings are business casual.
Pre-Conference Golf Tournament
Make like PGA stars and former President Obama and hit the green at Omni Grove Park Inn’s 18-hole golf course. Enjoy a continental breakfast before joining fellow ALA members for a morning round of golf, plus prizes, drinks and a boxed lunch.
*Good to know: If you don’t want to lug your own clubs, reserve one of a limited number of rental sets for $55, available through the course at 828-398-3858.
Monday, Sept. 24 | 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Enjoy a dose of Southern hospitality while mingling with ALA friends (old and new) at Deerpark, a horse stable-turned fancy event venue on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate. The evening includes food and drinks with a cash bar starting at 8:30 p.m. Sponsored by CSA Group.
*Good to know: A shuttle service is available to take guests from the hotel the event starting at 6:15 p.m. Return trips begin at 9 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 24 | 7-9:30 p.m.
Opening Breakfast General Session
Keynote presentations: “Blink and They’re Gone! – The Art of Winning and Keeping Today’s Customers” by David Avrin, The Visibility Coach, and “Let There be Light: A Design Guide for Millennials’ Homes” by retail expert Pam Danziger of Unity Marketing & Retail Rescue. Sponsored by Westinghouse.
Tuesday, Sept. 25 | 8-10 a.m.
This lunch packs a one-two punch. First up, ALA will recognize this year’s winners of the Pillars of the Industry Awards. Then, attendees will hear from a panel of industry leaders discussing the topic “The Connected World is Moving at a Rapid Pace: Are you Taking Advantage of It?” This feature presentation will be led by Michael Smith of Lutron and Gene LaNois of Nest. Sponsored by Lutron.
Tuesday, Sept. 25 | 12-2 p.m.
Women in Lighting Event
Alongside friends and peers, enjoy a featured presentation by Emmy award-winning broadcaster and communications expert Sharon Delaney McCloud. Sponsored by Dallas Market Center and Swarovski.
Tuesday, Sept. 25 | 5-6 p.m.
Young Executives Discussion and LaZoom Tour
Join the ALA young Executives Group for a quick but engaging discussion on this year’s chosen book study title “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” At 6:45 p.m. board the LaZoom bus for a tour of Asheville’s seedy (and sometimes spooky) side. Your hosts will serve beer, wine and water on the bus. Sponsored by Hinkley Lighting.
Tuesday, Sept. 25 | 6-8:30 p.m.
Breakfast General Session
Keynote presentations: “Prosperity in the Age of Decline” by Brian Beaulieu of ITR Economics, and “Beyond Customer Service: Gracious Hospitality” by Anna Sullins of the Biltmore Center for Professional Development.”
Wednesday, Sept. 26 | 8-10 a.m.
Network until your heart’s content and learn from your peers.
Wednesday, Sept. 26 | 12-1:45 p.m.
The evening will begin with fanfare as ALA inducts Kichler Lighting’s Tony Davidson into its Hall of Fame. Then, the excitement continues as 2019 ALA Conference chair Rick Wiedemer reveals the location of next year’s conference. After dinner, dance and hive five your colleagues in acknowledgment of another successful conference on the books. Sponsored by UL.
Wednesday, Sept. 26 | 7-10 p.m.
David Avrin - Visibility Coach
Business marketing, customer experience speaker and author David Avrin is so sought after, ALA was lucky to snag him. Through his hard-hitting yet entertaining presentation, “Blink and They’re Gone! – The Art of Winning and Keeping Today’s Customers,” Arvin shows business owners, sales professionals and entrepreneurs how to find, recognize, craft and promote compelling competitive advantages.
Catch him: Opening Breakfast General Session on Tuesday, September 25.
Brian Beaulieu - ITR Economics
Economist Brian Beaulieu brings his robust experience in business cycle trend analysis and as an author and speaker to his talk “Prosperity in the Age of Decline.” He’ll discuss his researched method for how business leaders can protect their company’s bottom line through turbulent times.
Catch him: Breakfast General Session on Wednesday, September 26.
Pam Danziger - Retail Rescue
Millennials, especially the rich ones, can be an elusive bunch. An internationally recognized expert on “The American Affluent,” Pam Danziger will share her secrets for winning the hearts and minds of the newest subset of the market’s most profitable customers in her talk “Let There be Light: A Design Guide for Millennials’ Homes.”
Catch her: Opening Breakfast General Session on Tuesday, September 25.
Anna Sullins - The Biltmore Company
When she’s not training the Biltmore’s 2,400-employee force, Training & Development Manager Anna Sullins shares her insights on how to inspire customer service that goes above and beyond. Given today’s competitive market, her talk “Beyond Customer Service: Gracious Hospitality” is sure to be a conference highlight.
Catch her: Breakfast General Session on Wednesday, September 26.
When you find yourself with some free time (Tuesday evening, September 25, is a freebie), get out and explore Asheville. Check out a local spot on our list below or discover your own.
For beer lovers…
Grab a pint or two on the South Slope, Asheville’s newest destination for microbreweries galore. Head to this south-of-downtown neighborhood and pop into local stalwarts (like Green Man Brewery), newbies (like Burial Beer Co.) or any of the brew bastions in between.
For garden enthusiasts…
Stroll through the meticulously planned grounds of the Biltmore Estate. Designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, the historic gardens are the perfect backdrop for a colorful exhibit of glass sculpture installations by mixed-media artist Dale Chihuly. In addition to a self-guided tour through the gardens, your ticket buys you access to the Biltmore House and complimentary wine tasting at Antler Hill Village & Winery.
For outdoor adventurers…
Sure you could ogle the fall foliage from the comfort of your rental car, but you get what you pay for, as they say, and if you’re not expending at least a little energy, you’re bound to miss some of the good stuff. If you’re eager to get out and experience nature, head to Craven Gap off the Blue Ridge Parkway, a mere 15 minutes from downtown. Get more details on the easy-to-hike 4.8-mile trail here.
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s ALA Conference? Share with us in the comments.