I am writing this leader column in the run-up to the Finat European Label Forum (ELF) in Copenhagen.
Finat has been making major efforts to ensure that both its ELF and annual technical conferences are relevant to label converters of all sizes. TLMI has also been pushing a number of initiatives and research programs of direct interest to label converters in an effort to convince the bulk of the label converting industry to attend – and not just the ‘elite’ and the suppliers who usually provide the backbone of industry association events.
So why are so many converters reluctant to attend association events? ‘It takes up too much time’ and ‘costs too much’ are common arguments. Many converters see ‘high level’ events as way beyond the realities of their everyday business concerns. There is also some nervousness that employees being pushed to be more and more productive may see a couple of days spent away from the plant as a ‘management jolly’.
In addition, both association meetings and industry exhibitions are no longer seen as the only way to network and learn about new developments, with the ubiquity of the internet and more suppliers holding their own in-house events.
There is no doubt that these kinds of learning and networking experiences are valuable and have a place in the overall education process.
But industry-wide association meetings and exhibitions retain a key role. Industry association agendas are now developed by highly focused teams of suppliers and converters laser-focused on content which will stick and is of direct business benefit. Getting away from the day-to-day professional coalface allows time to reflect and reassess business priorities and goals. If you come back with just one or two powerful ideas or learnings, then the investment in time and money can be easily justified, and employees can see these effects clearly.
Our recent Label Summit Latin America – about which you can read more in the next issue of L&L – was the most successful of the three events we have organized in Colombia, and was all about the power of shared learning and networking experiences.
Likewise at Labelexpo, the ability to see and compare multiple suppliers’ offerings during real-time demonstrations amongst industry peers is an experience that simply cannot be replicated by looking at YouTube videos.