I just returned from a four day trip in Orlando, FL for the IAAPA (The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) Expo. The amusement industry is absolutely massive ranging from world class amusement and water parks all the way to back yard party rentals. Being in inflatable rentals, only a small section of the Expo actually pertains to our business at Blue Apple Productions. However we walked the whole show anyway which took almost two full days on the showroom floor. At the IAAPA Expo, there were 1200+ exhibitors showing off their latest and greatest creations, along with 2500+ individuals shopping for their businesses. I have never been to a conference of this size and it was absolutely facinating to see both sides, exibitors and business owners, at work.
To help give you an idea of just how big the conference was, here is a picture of barely an eighth of the showroom floor:
All sorts of exhibitors were set up; everything from rollercoaster and waterslide design companies all the way down to arcade game and amusement food companies. Even Coca-Cola was there handing out free samples all conference long.
“In business, the competition will bite you if you keep running, if you stand still, they will swallow you.” -William Knudson, Jr
In this day in age, no matter what industry you are in, you have to keep up with the newest and greatest trends. Trade shows, conferences, and expos are a fantastic ways to do this. Whenever you get large groups of like minded people together, you are sure to pick up tidbits here and there about your industry, competition, and new markets.
I have been to three User Group Meetings (UGMs) at Epic where every hospital that owns Epic’s software comes together to meet each other, learn from one another, and see what is new at Epic. I have also been to multiple large conferences, last and best of which was IAAPA.
When you go to a conference or trade show, there are multiple ways you should be engaged to gather as much information as you can to bring back to your business. The first thing that every conference I have ever been to has boasted are speakers/sessions by industry leaders and companies. Typically there are many more sessions than anyone has time to go to, but if you have multiple people from your company at the show, consider splitting up to hit as many sessions as possible that pertain to your company. Don’t expect sessions to revolutionize your business or drastically change what you do. Just make sure you are listening for those little suggestions that can sometimes make differences in your company.
Epic’s UGM was filled with sessions put on by Epic staff and Epic customers. There was a great balance of work and fun that they put togehter for the customers that attended. The hundreds of sessions ranged from things as simple as how to file claims effectiently to complicated issues such as medication reconciliation across systems. The great thing about these sessions was that it was peer to peer and everyone was learning from a hospital that had already had success doing what they were speaking about. These type of peer to peer sessions are most commonly what you find at conferences and arguably the most effective since it is providing information from customers that have the same problems, desires and growth potential as you do. Listen, watch and use what you can. You are not the first in your industry to have the problems that are arising. Find how others have fixed them and use the same type of responses and fixes.
My suggestion – go to at least one conference a year for your industry to keep moving ahead in this ever changing world of consumers.
What conference have you been to recently and what was the most useful part of it for you/your business?