By Ann Rubin
St. Louis (KSDK) - The event, industry-insiders call the "Super Bowl of conventions" wrapped up tonight. Already, attendees are giving host-city St. Louis rave reviews.
For this convention, St. Louis literally rolled out the red carpet.
A Washington Avenue block party was the big finale, after four days spent wining, dining and wooing the attendees of ASAE, The American Society of Association Executives.
"We're just excited to give them a wonderful farewell," said Steve Stickford of the Convention and Visitors Commission.
The Dubliner was one of eight restaurants that closed to the public so they could serve the attendees.
"These people are the decision makers for conventions and we want to put our best foot forward," said owner Patrick Russell.
This is the convention for people who plan conventions, and while St. Louis and its partners will have spent about $1.5 million dollars showing them a good time, they say we'll get that back and then some.
The event will bring in $5.7 million dollars this week, but could bring in $187 million dollars in the next five years, as about 20-percent of attendees are likely to come back.
Tom Pierce of Pierce Management Development in Los Angeles says he might be one of them.
"We're just charmed," he said
Conventioneers raved about the events, the layout of the city, and the warmth of the people.
"They must be tired by now. They're still smiling. They're still saying hi are you having a good time, welcome," said Pierce.
Pam Donahoo of American Mensa in Texas said, "The downtown area was really great, it was easy to get around. I didn't realize there were nearly as many hotel rooms down here as there are."
Jenna Lordo of Eventology in the D.C. area used to live in St. Louis.
"It was way beyond as I remembered the city, and also my expectations," she said.
ASAE organizers say they took a gamble on St. Louis and it paid off.
"St. Louis has really knocked it out of the park," said President and CEO John Graham.
They say from signs to concerts on the arch grounds, to roads shut down for their benefit, they really felt welcome.
"You can feel it, you can experience it. And as I said, great job St. Louis," said Graham.
Los Angeles had this convention last year and has already booked an additional $50 million dollars in future convention business as a result. St. Louis officials say we had higher attendance than they did, which is a good sign. They will now begin the process of trying to lure these conventioneers back here.