Meeting in person? Turns out, it’s good for you

At a recent conference, a speaker retold the apocryphal tale of the little boy caught smoking. His father says, “You like smoking? Well, you’re going to smoke the whole pack.” The sick youngster vows never to smoke again. Now just replace cigarettes with Zoom. You thought it would be nirvana—the joy of wearing a work shirt with pajama bottoms and sneaking wine in the coffee mug.

But the thrill faded, and people are desperate to use their senses and connect for real experiences.

As Cyndi Lauper might say in 2022, “Meeting attendees just want to have fun.” 

This need for connection is confirmed by Catherine Price, science journalist, and author of the new book,  The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again.

photo courtesy of the Harry Walker agency

She talks about “True Fun” as the important confluence of Playfulness, Connection, and Flow.

“I think we radically underestimate the importance of human connection as a health issue. Loneliness and isolation are so bad for us. There was one big study that likened their effects to those of smoking fifteen cigarettes a day,” writes Price.

So how to make that sense of light-hearted connection and a place to truly delve into what’s important?  It starts by deciding to have an in-person event -and then reaching out to Sue Ellen Moore, meeting planner veteran and our director of sales  218-623-1204 / 


Hosting Meetings & Activities at the DECC

Every meeting needs functional spaces and people to handle all the details. But first, let’s set the scene.

Duluth is a city known for its sense of place. There are few convention centers where one can sit and hear the fog horn as you watch the aerial bridge lift. Then wait for a freighter’s bow to slice through sea smoke – while slipping Duluth Coffee Company coffee and eating a Johnson’s Bakery donut. Now that’s a morning meeting break to remember.

Sue Ellen loves to get creative with all the possibilities for her groups because a meeting or conference requires more than a comfortable setup. “One time, I was able to arrange curling lessons for a conference group led by a nice guy named John Schuster. Unfortunately, he probably won’t have time for that any time soon.” But she’ll work with planners to dream something equally engaging.

Of course, every event is different. At the DECC, there are two convention centers, 120,000 square feet of expo space, two arenas, two ballrooms, a performance hall, a boardroom, and 32 break-out spaces. Heck, there’s even a curling club (Hello, Olympians!), movie theater, boat tour company, and a 660ft floating freighter museum (Shout out to you, William A. Irvin) right at our center.

Planning a DECC event – be it an expo, wedding or conference – is a professional collaboration starting with the first phone call. Once we understand your goals, including the vibe and feel you’re after, you’ll work with one planner and at the end, receive just one invoice. That can be a rare experience in our industry.

That’s possible because we have in-house catering and expo services with items like tables, chairs, linens and pipe & drape at the ready. And while we love working through the fun stuff, like creating a signature cocktail /mocktail for your deck reception, we also have the less exciting but oh-so-important things covered.

We mean gritty details like parking for 1,800 staffed by real people, a guest services attendant to greet your guests, complimentary tech services. And those seemingly minor things are here, too. Think sign easels and extension cords. And what we don’t have at our fingertips, we work through longtime local partners to make it happen.

New Menu

“So, are you doing food again?”

That’s a question we hear often, and we’re thrilled to say, YES! Our in-house catering team is back and with our new executive chef, Jerry Carpenter.

The close-knit kitchen team has created a new menu, keeping some of the old favorites, like smoked fish from Duluth’s Northern Waters Smokehaus, while adding some modern flare. They watch changing trends and food palates to create the right balance between comforting eats and healthy dishes to excite.

There are benefits to hosting your event at a place designed for that exact purpose. Our goal is to take your most important occasions and make them a reality.

So, let’s turn off the Zoom and make some real connections in 2022!