The Elusive Key to Success

At a time when exhibition companies have experienced a tough go — looking all the way back to 2000 when the economy began to weaken — organizers at-large have been searching for the key to success in producing shows.

It appears Tarsus, organizers of the niche-oriented, global Labelexpo shows, is among the fortunate “finders” of success. Was Tarsus just lucky with Labelexpo Americas (held September 10 — 16), or will it remain “keepers” of the elusive key?

While luck may have played a role in the show's success, staged when the economy was serendipitously on the mend, timing can be everything. But I'm convinced there was more than luck at work here.

Smart partnering certainly factored into the show's success. The Tag & Label Manufacturers Institute (TLMI), Naperville, IL, should be commended for the role it played in planning the conference program for Labelexpo. While there was one session on equipment financing that no one attended (perhaps a subject better discussed with one's banker), on the whole attendees were very pleased with the well-thought-out list of topics.

Frank Sablone, TLMI executive director, felt the seminar program went extremely well. “Thanks goes to Elisha Tropper of Prestige Label, Cindy White of Channeled Resources Group, and Steve Krogulski of Labelexpo in pooling their resources to put together a good program of conference sessions. The program not only offered an excellent opportunity to get the word out about TLMI, what it is, and what it does, but also we were able to get the key issues confronting tag and label converters into the forefront.”

My feeling is Labelexpo hit the winning run in heading up the conference program committee with a label converter — someone who has spent many a waking hour addressing complex converting problems. While association directors and magazine editors (myself included) can report on their members/subscribers interests from a second-hand point of view, there is real value in letting the true converter-experts play a leading role in determining and assembling a conference program. As proof of the effectiveness of such a decision, many of the sessions were at full to overflow capacity. For example, the sessions devoted to Smart Labels, Parts I and II, had people spilling into the hallway! (Word has it many were eager to hear a presentation by Vincent Reese of Appleton Inc., claimed an especially gifted speaker. Unfortunately, no PFFC editors could even get into the session because it was so packed!)

The session I moderated had an audience of 23 attendees who felt comfortable speaking up on real life proofing problems with Mark Mazur of DuPont, Patrick Floody of Creo, and Stan Field of Integrity Engineering. The free exchange of questions and advice was both instructive and refreshing.

To be fair, exhibitors would likely say they both like and dislike the Rosemont Stephens Convention Ctr. The hall's proximity to Chicago's O'Hare Airport is advantageous to visitors and exhibitors alike. The fact that unions at this convention center seem a lot more cooperative and reasonably priced is another attractive feature. However, the oddly shaped show floor has an ebb and flow pattern that sometimes leaves exhibitors wanting for more foot traffic in the remotely placed booths. As someone walking the floor, I'll be the first to admit how easily I can become directionally disoriented inside that building.

Another exhibitor, Chuck Bayer of Dunmore Corp., gave us his opinion:

As an exhibitor, we thought the show was good. Going to four days from the previous three-day format was not worthwhile from our standpoint. I understand that the large equipment manufacturers wanted the four days [and may actually want an additional day to justify the setups], however, all that was done was to take the people that would normally have attended during a three-day period and stretch them out over four days. Monday was very quiet. Thursday was dead as a door nail [whatever that is]. I talked to a number of exhibitors who may not come back unless the show is rolled back to three days. — CB

Another exhibitor admitted to me, that yes, three days is better than four, but then if it was a three-day show, two days would have been better. The last days of most shows generally are slow. But there's no denying this edition of Labelexpo was successful.

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