Editorial - February 2002

Time and Again
By Stefan Budricks

When you begin searching through flight schedules and start adjusting production schedules in your business to allow for an absence of several days, probably one of two things is in your future. You're either looking forward to a vacation or convention time is drawing near. Given favorable circumstances, one might be expected to anticipate each with equal good humor. Circumstances surrounding this year's scheduling of two major car care conventions can, however, hardly be considered to be favorable.

In June 2001 this space was given over to a plea for a rationalization in the annual calendar of car care events. The successful efforts of the Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI) and National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) to combine their trade shows beginning this year were held up as an example of what could be achieved if fears were set aside and benefits recognized. It was pointed out that the International Carwash Association (ICA) and the Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA), just as PEI and NACS, cover fields that complement rather than duplicate, that enhance rather than replace. In fact, in many instances, they cover exactly the same fields.

For 2002, there are aggravating circumstances. The burden of two shows is being weighted down further by timing, by geography, and by current events. The AOCA Convention and Fast Lube Expo is not only separated in time from the Car Care World Expo by a mere eight days, it is also set apart geographically by half a continent. Added to these woes are the acknowledged cutbacks in corporate travel in light of economic uncertainty along with the general public's serious disinclination to travel following the tragic events in September 2001. The effects of these current events were clearly evident at many a post-9/11 regional show where attendance could have been described, charitably, as disappointing.

Many professionals in the car care industry would dearly like to attend both shows. Many have in the past. Given the level of duplication and the timing and distance involved, this is less likely to occur in 2002. If operators have reason to think twice about travelling both to Reno (for the AOCA show) and Chicago (For ICA's Car Care World Expo), imagine the dilemma exhibitors are facing. Those in the publishing business have an easy time of it: We pack a bag and briefcase and off we go. We don't even ship our magazines - our printer does it for us!

What about the exhibitor who has a display booth (some can be quite elaborate), row upon row of products, perhaps some car wash equipment that requires assembly (and, of course, disassembly)? Regardless of the expense, as a matter of practicality it would be impossible for that exhibitor to move his display from Nevada to Illinois in the time available. The choice: duplicate the exhibit or forego one show. Surely this is not a choice the event organizers would want to force upon their principal sources of revenue!

On the educational front at Car Care World Expo, word that the ICA was departing from the defined educational track system of the past in order to offer a "broader program of interest to all attendees" initially caused some misgivings. However, a close inspection of the lineup of educational opportunities allayed all fears. The new program is, in fact, a great improvement. All the segment-specific sessions are still there, but, and this is different, they are scheduled at the same time as many of the rent-a-speaker presentations. Now you get to choose!

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