Odd Expo Fellows
The new normal of the 2008-2011 era appears to be creating some very abnormal bedfellows on the printing industry trade show circuit. The Graphic Arts Show Co. (GASC) can take some of the credit for the “bunking up” mentality with its slew of co-located events during the past two Graph Expo shows in Chicago.
GASC’s move seemed like such a good idea, it has been co-opted by the franchise community. This past August, Allegra Network held its annual convention and expo at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The same could be said for AlphaGraphics—same dates, same venue. No, someone at the Caesars front desk didn’t use poor judgment. It was all by design.
According to Allegra Chairman Carl Gerhardt, the respective organizations had been in talks for the past few years about co-locating their annual franchisee get- together. His longtime friendship with AlphaGraphics CEO Kevin Cushing didn’t hurt, either.
“For some time, the vendors have been saying that there are too many shows,” Gerhardt says. “Combining the conventions makes it easier on them.” The idea itself was relatively simple: Combining the events allowed vendors to set up at a single expo as opposed to double the cost for individual booths at two shows. The conventions would remain separate; AlphaGraphics and Allegra franchisees wouldn’t be sitting in the same conference rooms at the same time.
According to Gerhardt, corporate staff and franchise members alike were quick to get behind the idea. The biggest obstacle was coming up with dates that would work for both organizations, and they had to figure out how to share the revenue for the joint expo component, which included 130 booths.
On the Allegra end, former Kodak chief marketing officer and author Jeffrey Hayzlett, and Robert Richman, product manager for Zappos Insights, were the keynote speakers. Franchisee roundtables covered such topical subjects as environmental sustainability, sales management, social media, QR codes, resales and exit strategy, and acquisitions.