Last month, INDA announced it was postponing its Link With Asia, East Meets West conference, which intended to convene the Asian nonwovens industry in Vancouver this spring. Citing negative economic conditions and saying this was just not the right time for this conference, INDA still intends to hold Link With Asia, just not in 2009. This is the second new conference INDA has postponed this year. A New Energy Technologies conference, slated for late October in Raleigh, NC, was also cancelled.
Even with these cancellations, the docket of nonwovens industry-related conferences and trade shows continues to expand with INDA, EDANA, Pira and MesseFrankfurt--to name a few--all vying for a piece of the pie. There is no doubting the valuable contribution these conferences make to the industry, providing opportunities for both education and networking. However, executives' time has become even more valuable than it once was and travel budgets are being squeezed more tightly every day.
In December, PIRA held its annual Future of Wipes conference in Atlanta, GA. While the roster was impressive, featuring speakers throughout the wipes supply chain and presentations on a number of interesting new technologies and ideas, attendance was down considerably from years past. This is not surprising when you consider the number of conference wipes executives have to choose from. PIRA has been holding two wipes conferences a year—one in Europe and one in the U.S.—and INDA has been presenting its World of Wipes conference annually in the U.S. Add to this consumer products conferences—Vision from INDA and Outlook from EDANA—not to mention the many broader conferences and trade shows targeting nonwovens, and it's no question there is a serious glut of conferences in this market.
Before this situation leads to the cancellation of more of these valuable conferences, the sponsoring organizations should work together—either by combining conferences, alternating years or coming up with new subject matter. There still can be enough marketing dollars to go around . . . as long as no one gets too greedy.