Too Many Conferences, Too Little Time. Part 1
I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time lately at industry conferences, accumulating nights on the road, airline miles, driving pathetic rental cars, and packing on some calories since there is not enough time to work out. Such is life. Anyway, a couple of these junkets—Xplor and the Document Strategy Forum—are worth talking about because they apply to a broad audience.
First up is Xplor, held in St. Petersburg, FL, in mid-April. Xplor, which focuses primarily on high-volume production of transactional documents such as bills, statements and the like, had an earlier life as a big trade show/conference that got caught in the convergence of a shift in management, a big drop in attendance following September 11, 2001, and cuts in corporate budgets for shows and travel. I attended this show for several years before it hit hard times, then passed on it for a few, finally getting it back on my calendar this year. I was pleasantly surprised to see how it has changed, and all for the better.
Xplor president Skip Henk and his team revived the brand, taking it back to its roots as an educational conference without the carnival of a big trade show. The reborn version limits vendor booths to basic pipe-and-drape stands, keeping costs down and fostering the ability to network with customers and prospects in a lower-key, more intimate setting. Xplor now has more than 9,000 members around the world who participate in local events and dial in to webinars every month. While only a couple of hundred or so people attended the annual U.S. conference in April—a handful of people compared to a big show—the difference is that these folks are the recommenders, influencers and decision-makers for acquiring the software and equipment their companies need to keep their document production operations running efficiently. They come with a pretty good idea of what they need and are looking for knowledge and answers.