Model Railroading Today and Tomorrow

Discovering the new arts and sciences

Extra Twenty Eleven, the 76th NMRA Convention
Sacramento, CA July 3 to 9, 2011

Congratulations to the X2011 crew in Sacramento. They delivered on a great convention and were rewarded with two thousand registrants, double the number two years ago. They sold their event as an unconventional National Model Railroad Association convention, a big change from the last five NMRA conventions.

Watch my YouTube video: X2011 in Five Minutes

Step back to 2006 in Philadelphia, the first NMRA convention managed by the national committee. This was a decision of the Board of Directors. They wanted a consistent product and better control of the finances. The end result was a boring, repetitive event with declining registration and the end of the financial surplus.

The Pacific Coast Region proposed a new kind of convention managed completely by the locals. They would take on the financial responsibility and share the surplus with the national organization.

What did they do differently?
  • prior to the convention they sold a registration package for $99
  • almost all registration activity was handled on line. Real time information was available when booking tours and events. No need to key in each registration
  • the registration package was on line and always current. A few people requested a paper copy and it was mailed to them
  • A electronic version of the convention timetable was available for smart phones. I was very pleased with this and used my electronic ‘Guide Book’ all week long
  • changed the banquet to a dessert only ‘nonquet’. Have dinner where ever you want and return for ice cream bar along with selected WinterRail programs

The primary hotel was the Sheraton Grand. This property marries a historic building with a modern guest room tower. The hotel staff was friendly and well trained. The guest rooms were perfect for our needs. The hotel features plenty of gathering space. They did struggle with the demand for food and drink during the week. They were short of servers and inventory at times.

The Sacramento Convention Center was the location for most of the activities. Again, an excellent staff made things run very smoothly. The rooms were very generous for our inside activities.

During the week I went on five tours. The Tour management was very good at boarding on time. They strived to have a tour captain on every bus and my tours ran on time. My selections were tours to Donner Pass, Gold Country / Sierra Railroad, Truck Museum / layouts, baseball game and Sacramento Live steam / fireworks.

The clinic schedule was filled with many new topics and new presenters. The team managed their own AV needs and checked on every detail. I saw at least ten clinics and they were all successful.

In the final analysis, the X2011 team was motivated to create a great convention and had the full financial and management authority to do so. My thanks to all of them for making 2,000 model railroaders very happy.