From the Editor: Too Many Conferences
I JUST got back from Print 09 in Chicago. The highlight for me was a breakfast round table discussion that I moderated, which drew more than 50 in-plant managers. The next day, the In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association hosted a similar meeting, with about the same number of attendees. In all, Print 09 was a pretty good deal for in-plants: free food, fellowship and insight, plus a chance to gawk at the latest technological advances. And just think, this was only the first of four in-plant gatherings this fall.
Therein lies the problem.
For years there has been a glut of annual in-plant conferences. Not counting trade show round tables, there are no less than six separate conferences each year: ACUP, IPMA, NGPA, Big Ten, SUPDMC and TACUP*. Each has its history and its loyal fan base. And despite some overlap, each group has more or less competed against the others.
This finally came to a head this month when three of these groups set their conference dates within weeks of one another. Each has struggled to pull in attendees, but travel restrictions have thwarted them. Usually there’s even a fourth fall conference, the Big Ten, but it seems to have vanished without a sound this year.
Having so many in-plant conferences was great back when the money was flowing and managers could go to several events a year. But these days, one can’t help but wonder if the time has come to choose between consolidation or death.
Mergers have worked in the past. Just last year, SUPDMC and TACUP joined forces for a successful conference. At the same time, though, IPMA’s proposal to absorb and manage NGPA was voted down by loyal members last year at one of the association’s most packed conferences in years; this year, with travel bans in force, only a couple dozen have registered for NGPA’s New Orleans conference.