From the Editor: Event horizon – Educational events are proliferating across the continent
Education events are multiplying.
By Patrick Flannery
Six years since we launched Top Glass, it now seems apparent that a lot of other people in other places were noting the same need for industry education and networking events.
At the time, the only events in Canada specific to the glass industry were the Canadian Glass Association’s Glass Connections conference – which moved around the country and didn’t occur on a regular schedule – the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance conference and the Quebec glass association’s annual meeting. WinDoor was traditionally a residential show for vinyl fabricators. The various architectural and construction shows only touched on facade glazing as an afterthought. Even the U.S. was limited mostly to GlassBuild, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association conferences and the American Institute of Architects conference.
Today, the field has exploded. I was at the IGMA conference in Vancouver in late July and the education program was provided by the Facade Tectonics Institute – a not-for-profit organization that will be putting on four full-day seminar programs in locations across North America next year. US Glass has launched GlassCon Global. Fenestration B.C. hosts Fenestration West, which now touches the commercial sector following the merger of the B.C. Window and Door Manufacturers Association and the Glazing Contractors Association of B.C. Winnipeg’s FenCon is targeted at both commercial and residential. And WinDoor is making a renewed push to attract commercial fabricators and contractors to its Quebec City edition with a commercial-specific education stream. The number of opportunities you have to take in some expert education, visit with vendors and network with peers has easily doubled since we first saw a need in the market.
Why has this happened? Partly, it’s because times have been pretty good in the industry for a while now coming out of the 2008 recession. Strong revenues for suppliers means larger marketing budgets for booths and sponsorships.
Another reason is a change in marketing philosophy. In the Information Age, marketers are challenged to make their message cut through a barrage of noise. The old strategy of simply making more noise than your competition doesn’t work as well when the noise-making apparatus (the Internet) is so cheap that just about any voice can equal your volume.
I also happen to think there’s a certain hunger for face-to-face contact in this time when you can go years only communicating with an important business contact via email. When worthwhile events happen, they seem to attract a pretty good crowd. When one organizer sees another having success, the natural effect is to try to replicate it.
These things run in cycles. As the success of industry events causes them to multiply, a point will be reached where there are too many for each to draw a large enough crowd and supplier supporters will rebel and start picking favourites. It’s a good spur for organizers like myself to keep working hard to provide the best possible experience so we’re the last ones standing when the inevitable cull comes.