Exhibitionist Par Excellence
Robert Dallmeyer, seated far right, with his family, including his
97-year-old mother next to him, at his 70th birthday celebration.
When it comes to being an exhibitionist, Robert Dallmeyer ’59 (sociology), owner of the consulting firm RD International, takes the cake. He has produced so many events, exhibitions and shows over the years that it is impossible to list them here. Let’s just say he’s really good at what he does. Last year the International Association for Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) honored him with its prestigious Pinnacle Award. In 2006 the Convention Industry Council inducted him into its “Hall of Leaders,” and in 2004 Tradeshow Week named him “Showman of the Year.”
This year Dallmeyer was appointed the North American Sales Rep for Brussels Convention Bureau. Said Philipe Close, president of Brussels International Tourism, “We…welcome his expertise, as well as his network in the North American meetings, conferences and exhibitions sector….Bob will be invaluable for introducing [the new congress center in the heart of our city] to the marketplace. In addition, he will be organizing visits for meeting, conference, and exhibition planners who may be interested in bringing events to our city.”
Dallmeyer continues to write his “Power Lunch” column for Trade Show Executive Magazine, as well as monthly columns for TSEA’s web-zine “E&E Professional” and Exposition World Magazine. Plus he teaches IAEE’s CEM management certification programs in the USA, Europe, Latin America, Canada, and China. Teaching exhibition management for George Washington University’s Event Management curriculum also shows up on his resume. His articles, books, audio and video presentations on exhibitions are in use around the world.
His career, Dallmeyer says, can be divided into three stages: the helicopter phase, the limo phase, and the business class phase. “I started at United Technologies in Hartford where I was responsible for creating their many global events and exhibitions,” he says. “I speak French and German, so logically I worked the Paris Air Show and the Hannover Messe for two decades. One of UTC’s divisions is Sikorsky Helicopter, and to this day I miss flying around the countryside in helicopters.” After that came the limousine phase of Dallmeyer’s career as president of Event Exhibition Enterprises, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers. “Wherever you went, you needed a limo,” he recalls. “Bizarre but wonderful.” And then the business class phase came along, the best part, he says. “I settled into Los Angeles and began producing, writing, speaking, etc. I also came out proudly as a gay man—which has had little or no impact on my career.”
Over the years Dallmeyer has met heads of state, world leaders, royalty, astronauts, movie-, stage- and TV stars, entertainment entrepreneurs and executives, civil rights leaders, politicians, famous writers and singers…“an amazing array of wonderful people…and a few scoundrels.” Dallmeyer was nearly killed by a terrorist bomb in Athens in 1969 when the monarchists were trying to reinstate the Greek king—a real epiphany. He met Margaret Thatcher at a party, lived next door to Suzanne Somers, and became best friends with Carol Bruce and other Broadway divas.
“My parents,” says Dallmeyer, “exposed me to travel and sent me to Europe early in life, creating an insatiable curiosity for the world. I’ve spent more than 15 years living and working outside this country. My parents also fostered my love of the arts, and at UMass Amherst this really flourished. I salute UMass Amherst for the education that prepared me to live a life so full of outstanding experiences. It really gave me a tremendous launch—intellectually, socially and spiritually. I still recall some of the professors who helped me grow.”
At an age when many people start slowing down their activities by various degrees, Dallmeyer is still running in high gear, not only with his work but also with his social life “Last Friday, for example,,” he tells, “I hosted 40 friends for cocktails, then we walked over to CBS Television City to see Bill Maher do his HBO show live, then to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Saturday was lunch in Hollywood with my 97-year-old mother. That evening I was at the final performance of Confessions of a Vintage Black Queen, a one-man show I co-produced in North Hollywood. Sunday was brunch with friends, then off to the ONE Institute (National Gay and Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California) to hear my friend Ivy Bottini tell her stories about the founding of NOW (National Organization for Women) and several GLBT civil demonstrations that I had been a part of with her. That evening was a dinner party with friends in Hollywood Hills. Not every weekend is like this, but close!”
Los Angeles, Dallmeyer notes, is a great place to grow old. “I still bicycle on the beach for miles and miles. And I’m a walker. From my neighborhood I can walk to everything I need. Contrary to the perception that we are always in our car in LA, I’m proud that my three-year-old car hasn’t logged 15,000 miles yet.” Dallmeyer heads east frequently to visit his daughters and grandchildren in the Boston and New York areas, but never in winter, he laughs.
A word to the wise for students: “Most people don’t know about trade shows and the events industry. It’s such an important sector of the economy, employing millions. It’s a very important marketing opportunity—can you imagine aerospace without the Paris Air Show, or electronics without the Consumer Electronics Show, or music without the NAMM Show? The list goes on and on for these kinds of world-class events that I’ve been a part of producing throughout my career.”
March 31, 2009