Bill Keese // Executive Director, Association of Progressive Rental Organizations (APRO) // Austin, Texas

Describe what your job entails.
As APRO’s executive director, I have the final responsibility for implementing all programs, initiatives and events, including our annual convention and our annual legislative conference. Our group has been meeting for 37 years and our upcoming meeting in May in Galveston is the first time we’re having an event in Texas.

Why Galveston?

We have only held one other beachside meeting—in Daytona Beach—and it was a great success. The board wanted another venue like that. Galveston was the place that offered the best of all that we need, from convenience, great location, Texas coast, the beauty of all the historical aspects of Galveston and affordability. It was the CVB that prepared a customized video presentation to show our members, which put it over the top. Our board decided this was it. We’re expecting 650 people, and besides the convention center we are also using The San Luis and the Hilton, both adjoining properties.  

Are you planning to use off-site venues?

We always start with a golf tournament because it puts people in a great frame of mind. This year we are using the Moody Gardens Premier Public Golf Course, a links-style par-72 course designed by two PGA tour professionals, Jim Hardy and Peter Jenkinson, and this course was designed for all of us, from semi-pro to hackers. We plan to take over the entire course with a shotgun start. After that, we are busing everyone downtown to the Strand Historic District, Fisherman’s Wharf for a Gala party right next to the 1877 tall ship ELISSA. We told attendees they must wear seaside attire, meaning shorts, T-shirts, Hawaiian shirts. In fact, we told folks they are not allowed to wear a coat and tie for the entire conference!

I hear your site inspection sold you in other ways.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I fell in love with Galveston while there with TSAE (Texas Society of Association Executives) and a subsequent site inspection, so much so in fact that I convinced my wife to retire there. I am retiring from APRO after our meeting there in May and my wife and I are very excited to begin the next chapter of our lives in Galveston.