Celent Says

The Clash of The Insurance Technology Shows

Craig Weber
Insurance Experts' Forum, June 23, 2011

Here’s an open question to the show organizers for IASA and ACORD LOMA: How are you planning to resolve the uncomfortable proximity of these two great shows?

For the record, I am a big fan of IASA, ACORD, and LOMA. All three organizations have contributed greatly to the renaissance in the insurance technology space and have opportunities to bring unique value to the industry. So it pains me to have regular conversations with industry participants of all persuasions where we all agree that there is room for two big industry shows a year, but not within weeks of each other. The current approach diminishes the value of both shows. We need a change.

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I know there are financial and political considerations that conspire to keep things as they are today. Ditto that old insurance favorite: tradition. But a shakeup would have significant benefits for show organizers and attendees. Here are two options.

Option 1: Consolidate again.

If you really don’t want to address the timing issues, then you should consider combining IASA and ACORD LOMA into one massive, must-attend show. Want to be fair? Rename it “Insurance Expo” and start a new tradition that will carry us for the next 30 years.

To make the financial picture work, double the price of exhibiting and of sponsoring various events. For vendors who currently participate in both shows, this would be a net gain, as they would only be sending booths and staffs to a single location each year instead of two. And the rise in the number of attendees would more than offset the higher cost for vendors.

Attendees should pay higher fees for a single combined show, too. But will they? If you address tactical issues (e.g., scheduling to ensure adequate time for both show floor interactions and content) and raise the quality of show content by being more selective about presentations and presenters, I think they will. Heck, make it a day longer if you need to. You might not keep everyone for 3 full days, but the extended time would give opportunities for different, deeper content.

There should be consolidation benefits to show organizers, too. The logistics of a combined show would be a challenge, and I’m sure the list of potential venues would be shorter than it is today, given the combined show’s size. But the costs of a combined show would not be equal to the two shows as they are, and the staffing overhead of running the two shows would be lower.

Option 2: Re-create some comfortable calendar separation.

Most of us would be thrilled if one of the shows moved to March or October. This is not as compelling to me as Option 1, personally, but it would be a major improvement.

I know the counterpoint: March weather can be sketchy. And an October show is disadvantaged because it is out of sync with buyers who are shopping mid-year for projects that will appear in the following year’s budget. But neither response outweighs the benefits. Buyers are looking at options year round these days, and there’s as much chance of tornadoes in June as there is snow in March. I say put on two solid shows that aren’t on top of each other and people will show up.

Moving Forward

Taking either of these steps requires organizational courage. And acts of good faith on all sides to make sure that the benefits of a new approach would trickle down to the organizing groups equitably. But the current, fractured approach to keeping these two shows alive has its own risks. Uncertainty and dissatisfaction with the status quo will severely limit the growth of both shows. As member-driven organizations, IASA, LOMA and ACORD must all accept that anything that could help their members merits serious consideration. So how about it, show organizers? Can you address this nagging and obvious problem?

This blog has been reprinted with permission from Celent.

Craig Weber is SVP of Celent's insurance group, and can be reached at cweber@celent.com.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Craig using the “Add Your Comments” box below.

The opinions posted in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News or SourceMedia.

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