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Planning That Annual Meeting

The “season” for annual association meetings is nearly over. It's a period of closely timed, back-to-back plane trips. Admittedly, while attending these meetings involves frequent travel during a relatively short period of time, the locations are certainly nothing to complain about.

Over the years, some associations have put enormous effort into selecting the perfect locale, with a top hotel, gourmet cuisine, the best golf courses or tennis courts, top-notch entertainment, imaginative decorations for the annual banquet, etc. But with so much attention to comfort and fun, at times the meeting planners seem to have lost sight of content. After the meeting is over, you're left with a hungry, gnawing question: Where's the beef?

My staff and I have noticed a definite distinction among some of the meetings we've attended recently, and we have separated meetings into three categories: those with mostly glitz, those with guts, and those with a little of both.

Granted, our idea of what an annual meeting should comprise may be different from the criteria on which a corporation bases its decision to send a representative(s) to enjoy one of the perks of association membership. But we can't be alone in wondering what value there is for a company when your reps enjoy an expensive trip to a nice place where they eat good food, cut their golf game down by a stroke, are dazzled with flashy entertainment — and that's about it. Shouldn't there be more?

One event that is a contender for my unofficial “Best Meeting of the Year” award is the recently held meeting of the Assn. of Industrial Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators (AIMCAL) in Indian Wells, CA. It provided a balance of “circuses” and content. Speakers Gerald Celente, author of Trends 2000, and DuPont's Dr. Robert Fry were thought-provoking. Though the audience may not have agreed with everything they said — especially as each described a serious downturn in the US economy — they did offer new angles from which to evaluate the economic landscape that may affect a company's ability to operate profitably.

Ken Branch, NovaVision, examined opportunities for converters in the field of security and anti-counterfeiting, emphasizing the need for open systems with features that can be integrated.

Bob Ayrer addressed “Selling Value in a Price World” and offered practical approaches to improving sales — especially during an economic slowdown. This is only one meeting, but it's one that I believe had the right formula.

How does your company look upon attendance at association meetings, particularly annual meetings? What criteria do you use in determining whether or not to attend? Email your thoughts to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more information on the converting industry beyond this issue's contents, be sure to visit Once there, be sure to e-mail your feedback to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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