Realtor associations in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island were planning a regional convention this year at the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville (above), but the event has been postponed.

Plans for a New England regional convention for Realtors – which the Connecticut Association of Realtors was helping to organize – have been put on hold.

“We were not able to put it together in time,” said Bob Kennedy, executive vice president of the Connecticut Association of Realtors.

CAR and the Realtor associations in Massachusetts and Rhode Island were planning the first regional convention this fall, which was expected to draw up to 2,000 real estate professionals from all of the New England states. In prior years, CAR has had its own statewide convention spanning over two days in September or October. The convention has been held in Hartford, at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket and in other locations throughout Connecticut.

Last year, however, CAR skipped its annual convention and agreed to join the other Realtor groups in hosting a regional convention and trade show in hopes of saving money on expenses, drawing well-known national speakers and attracting larger crowds. The groups even hired an event planning firm to help the associations secure a site for the convention and to assist with the trade exposition that is part of the conference.

But deadline-plagued organizers said they couldn’t negotiate a contract for an appropriate venue in time. The groups were eyeing the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville as the site for the meeting this fall.

“They [Mohegan Sun] were very accommodating and professional,” explained Kennedy. “It was a matter of not having the right pieces in place on time.”

‘Learning Curve’
Kennedy would not specify whether the Realtor groups were going to host a regional convention and trade show next fall. “The state associations are certainly interested in working together to provide various programs and services to the membership of the various states,” he said.

However, John Fridlington, executive vice president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, said the state groups were in “initial talking stages” to see if they want to start working on a 2004 event.

“Anytime you’ve got a number of different associations with their own governance structures and their own view of how they want to put an event, you’ve got a learning curve of how you put the pieces together and make it work,” said Fridlington.

He added, “We had established a really good working relationship and had come up with a good model and approach for the convention.”

In the meantime, CAR officials are considering hosting a smaller-scale, one-day program similar to the event they organized last year. That event featured education sessions, networking opportunities, the installation of new CAR officers and an awards ceremony that recognized Realtors for their community service.

“We may enhance it,” said Kennedy. “We may concentrate a little further on leadership training and education for the local associations in conjunction with the state association,” he said.

If CAR and the other Realtor associations succeed in organizing a regional conference next year, it won’t be the first. Realtor groups in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have been hosting regional conferences for at least two years. The conventions have drawn thousands of real estate professionals and hundreds of exhibitors.