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People who think the new convention center will be anything other than an overpriced white elephant have obviously been getting their numbers from Bill Lecos, who according to your story speaks for “the Virginia-headquartered Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.” He claims that “average spending by a conventioneer is $1,400 a day, including hotels, restaurants, transportation, and retail.”

Wow! Lecos must have been hitting the Tabasco pretty heavily. Average conventioneer of what? The Association of Diamond Wholesalers? Academy of Neurosurgeons? The International Arms Cartel? The average conventioneer at every meeting I’ve ever attended would have a hard time spending $1,400 in four days, let alone 24 hours. For one thing, conventioneers have bosses who have to approve their expense reports. For another, to spend $1,400 a day, the “average” conventioneer would have to fly first-class from Japan, stay in the Dick Morris Memorial Suite at the Jefferson Hotel, and eat a 10-pound lobster at the Palm every night before picking up some souvenirs at Tiffany’s.

The depressing truth about real-life conventioneers is that they want as little to do with the city they visit as possible. Most of them never even leave the meeting area because they’re afraid they’ll get lost or mugged, and anyway they’re tired from walking around the exhibits all day. If they go out at all it’s in groups, in taxis, to places where there is already an entertainment infrastructure (e.g, Georgetown). They certainly don’t need any of the services residents require, like groceries or dry cleaners.

And they definitely don’t spend an average of $1,400 a day each. In fact, these days more than likely their bosses are making them share a room.

Chevy Chase

via the Internet