July 20 2013,

This year’s MACNA (Marine Conference of North America” will ‘WOW!’ and excite many with it’s location and line up.  This years event will by far be the most expensive event in the history of MACNA.  The Florida Marine Aquarium Society (FMAS) is this year’s host of the event and the team made a decision early on they wanted to put on an event that would stay in the memories of all attendees for years to come.  How would they accomplish such memory staying power?  Eddie Soler, the events chair, and Julio Perez, the co-chair, said early on that they wanted to put on a “Kick-ass show”.

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One great way to start a great show is by choosing the right venue.  And that they did!  The Westin Diplomat Hotel sits right at the beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean when facing eastward and when facing west, the beautiful city lights of Fort Lauderdale are evident at night.  Not far from the Florida Keys or Miami’s famous South Beach, this site has much to offer.  Another plus with regards to the venue — having the conference center adjoined to the hotel, making it easy to get to.    

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From the start there were a few challenges – such as making sure that the allocated rooms at the hotel would be filled.  The commitment made by MACNA 2013 to the hotel was 1,600 room nights and after several modifications the hotel was fully booked at 2,400 a month ago.  This resulted in making arrangements with the Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach to accommodate the spillover from the Westin.  The Westin ran out of affordable rooms and many attendees have been forced to make accommodations at the Crowne Plaza. 

Another challenge for MACNA 2013 was full access passes. They started the event with 1,250 and thought that they would have enough to sell onsite at the event on opening day.  That proved wrong pretty quickly and the committee had to sit with the hotel to reevaluate the sitting arrangements for the banquet to help make more room to give every person with an full event pass a seat at the table. 

This meeting proved to be fruitful leading to the addition of 150 more seats to bring the total count at the banquet to 1,400 happy reefers!  Needless to say, all full access passes have been sold out hitting the mark over two months ago — one of the hottest passes in America right now!  Currently, there are single day and three-day passes available but are going fast.

One complaint by attendees from previous MACNAs was the speaker schedule.  This was a challenge MACNA 2013 took head on and tried to make manageable balancing a good volume of speakers and topics and enough flexibility for attendees to see as many as possible.   There will be 23 speakers overall and on Friday and Saturday the attendees will not have to pick one speaker over another since every hour a new speaker will start their presentation.  On Sunday, there will be two speakers every hour on the hour from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

With over 240 booths and over 160 vendors, this year’s attendees will have a lot to look forward to.  All the major manufactures will be there and most of our national live stock vendors will also be there with all the best and most colorful stock available to purchase.  One national coral vendor Frag Junky, sellers of exotic colorful corals, invited me for a sneak preview of one incredible coral that they are holding for MACNA.  Luckily enough I was able to capture these images and share this “Sneak Peek” just for our Reef Builders readers.

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And as for raffle prizes, you will not be disappointed!  All the high-end equipment and a few complete system set ups will be up for grabs.  Of course there will be plenty of other goodies to be had, so start saving up now!

See you all at MACNA 2013!


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