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Execs would rather go virtual than to Houston, study says

A survey by a Webcasting and virtual events company suggests that Houston tops the list of cities that execs would avoid for a conference or trade show. Los Angeles was second.

Houston is a wonderful place.

I've always wanted to write that sentence and here, finally, is an opportunity.

For America's executives have decided to dump their irrational loathing upon a city that tries its very best, despite a climate the devil would reject, the 72nd best public transit system in America (out of 100 metropolitan areas), and freeways that seem to go on longer than former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

You see, ON24, a Webcasting and virtual events company decided--no doubt in its own self-interest--to discover which cities business executives would most prefer to avoid for a trade show or conference.

The highly emotive city of Houston. CC TriggzBb/Flickr

Houston was chosen by almost half the executives surveyed. In a very lowly second came Los Angeles, selected by 41.7 percent of respondents. (All the respondents attended VUE 2011, the world's largest virtual events user conference.)

Naturally, ON24's representatives would like you to believe that their technology is the thing of the future. They point to other difficult results of their survey, such as Atlanta being the execs' most loathed airport and bed bugs apparently being their biggest bugbear about hotels.

I have a theory, though, about these respondents. I trawled through the data until I came across something very significant: a mere 19.6 percent of them believe that "booth babes"--the hot-pantsed, fragrant ladies who often adorn exhibition booths--are sexist relics.

This would presumably mean that 80.4 percent still think that these ladies are neither relics nor an expression of sexism. Which would therefore mean that the majority of these respondents still have their heads in eras gone by, when booth babes represented sophistication and Houston was synonymous with the word "problem."

Might I therefore suggest that these execs (and others) give Houston one more try?

Yes, I know it's in Texas. I know that it was the home of Enron. But stay at the lovely Hotel Icon, visit the very fine Museum of Fine Arts, and above all, indulge in the astounding pastries and desserts at Pondicheri.

I feel sure that this combination might just be slightly superior than sitting in on some virtual event where you'll feel as if it's just another day at the office. Because it is.