July 23, 2024 8:39 AM
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All in the Family

by Jim Obermeyer

I am exhausted sitting on an airplane, very early in the morning—but it’s a good kind of exhaustion—when you have just spent four days with a whole lot of family. Lots of hugs, lots of laughs, and conversation mostly just catching up, and sharing stories over drinks and a meal. Stories of good times past and great things to come.

I’m not talking about a family gathering for the holidays. I’m talking about the EDPA family gathering for the EDPA ACCESS Conference the week after Thanksgiving in Bonita Springs, Florida. The event was attended by 325 of our industry’s most passionate and committed members. Some, like me, have been attending this annual event for decades, many were there for the first time.

I have been attending for decades, and every year I come away from the week so fired up about our industry, our association, and what the future holds. But this year was different. I was fortunate to be able to bring two friends with me: my client relationship colleague from here in the U.S., and our managing director from the U.K. Both are well-experienced industry veterans, but newcomers to this event.

I wanted them to listen to the awesome keynote speakers, experience the education, talk with industry suppliers, and meet industry veterans and future leaders. I wanted them to come away feeling like they were part of this very special family.

To say that they were welcomed with open arms would be an understatement. With all of the change that has happened in this industry over the last few years, giving them the opportunity to be a part of this was a no brainer.

Yes, I had specific people I wanted them to meet and have conversations with, but I also wanted them to experience the conference for themselves. And that they did. They listened to the keynotes, participated in the educational sessions, and visited with the exhibitors in the Engagement Zone.

They bid on—and won—items in the silent auction the evening of the gala, participated in the table ask, and attended the after party—but I couldn’t convince them to sing on the karaoke stage. They finished the event by becoming the ‘International Division of the Texas Chapter team at the Chapter Challenge on the last day—and their team won that as well.

My colleagues came away with a new appreciation for our industry, our association, and the passion and energy that drives the people that work here. And I came away having introduced two new members to this incredible family.

Seriously, if this is your chosen field, whether you are an owner, an executive, in sales, a creative, in a financial position, or production role—the EDPA Access Conference should be part of your year. It is so important to step out of your building, step away from day-to-day minutia and expose yourself to the opportunity to spend time with people.

In all the years I have been coming to this event, I have acquired more knowledge, made more business friends, found more key supplier partners and gained a better understanding of how we can all work together than any other single event in our industry.

I urge you to consider attending next year’s EDPA Access Conference, scheduled for December 3rd–5th at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells in Palm Springs, California. And if you are a regular at this event, next year, bring some new friends, and have them join the family. You won’t regret it!

See you on the show floor.

Jim Obermeyer has been in the exhibits and events industry over 40 years, both as a corporate trade show manager and exhibit house owner.  He can be reached at jobermeyer903@gmail.com 

This story originally appeared in the Q1 2024 issue of Exhibit City News, p. 12. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_q1_2024.

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