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New York City: NRF Big Show

January 13-15, 2013. NRF is the National Retail Foundation, and their Big Show lived up to its name, with an all-time record-breaking attendance of over 27,000.  Issues under discussion included the idea of retailers encouraging conscious consumerism   (Donna Karan had something to say about that), and whether retailers can win with third-party advertising.  An international session explored retail trends around the world, Walmart looked at how to help drive American renewal, “omnichannel convergence” turned out to have “a Southern State of Mind”, and a panel of experts advised on how to implement criminal background checks.  A highlight was International Man Of Peace Kofi Annan, sharing his “Three Keys to a Prosperous Society”.  Prosperity?  Now that’s what retailers wanted to hear about…

Atlanta: NSSEA

January 14-17, 2013. NSSEA EdExpo presents itself as the premier showcase for innovations in every facet of learning, from instructional materials, teaching aids and technology products to educational games, toys, and supplies — a veritable cornerstone of the teaching and learning industry.  The show is produced  by the National School Supply & Equipment Association (NSSEA), the educational products and services trade association.  Teachers, managers, buyers and sellers could visit hundreds of manufacturers and evaluate thousands of products, all under one roof. There were workshops, networking events, continental breakfasts, and the Dealer Speed-Dining Luncheon — returning, apparently, by popular demand. What ever happened to teachers telling us we had to “chew each mouthful 100 times”?  Speed-dining sounds like a recipe for indigestion…

Orlando: Surf Expo 13

January 10-13, 2013. This one’s for manufacturers and retailers in the surf, skate, water sports, swim and beach resort industries.  Surf Expo featured approximately 2,000 booths of apparel and hardgoods, and a full line-up of special events, including fashion shows, annual awards ceremonies, and demos.  Surfing itself is of course the category that launched Surf Expo, the industry’s oldest and largest trade show. The surf section featured boards, sunglasses and sun protection products, boardshorts, juniors, footwear and fins.  Other sections were dedicated to wakeboard, waterskiing, kiteboard, windsurf, freedive… and of course the fashion statements each sport variant favors.  Okay, all together: “Let’s go surfin’ now, everybody’s learnin’ how…”

Orlando: Society of Laboratory Automation and Screening

January 11-13, 2013. SLAS is the Society of Laboratory Automation & Screening,  an international community of more than 15,000 individual scientists, engineers, researchers, technologists and others from academic, government and commercial laboratories. SLAS provides forums for education and information exchange, to encourage the study of and advance laboratory science and technology for the drug discovery, agrochemical, biotechnology, chemical, clinical diagnostic, consumer product, energy, food, forensic, pharmaceutical, security and other industries. Within SLAS there are two sections: the Biomolecular Sciences Section (drug discovery and the use and development of biomolecular screening technology) and the Laboratory Automation Section (there to advance SLAS’s purpose by furthering science and education related to laboratory automation).  Dang, I just spilled some biomolecular stuff on my clean white lab-coat…

New Orleans: International Disaster Conference

January 8-11, 2013. The disaster business is growing, not least thanks to global warming and climate change.  Here’s the assessment at the show of Tom Ridge, erstwhile Secretary of Homeland Security, and the man who gave us all those color-coded risk-level alerts:  “Recent natural disasters, man-made crises and geopolitical unrest have demonstrated that our world has never been more interdependent.  Catastrophes now have second and third order impacts that transcend levels of government and jurisdictional boundaries, as well as industry sectors and supply chains.  It is critical that international preparedness, emergency management and resilience leaders—from both the public and private sectors—have a forum to develop relationships and share ideas.  IDCE provides such a global forum.”  IDCE?  It stands for International Disaster Conference and Expo.  If they didn’t have a forum, it would be a disaster…

Charlotte: American Bus Association

January 5-9, 2013. The American Bus Association, or ABA, is a trade association for motorcoach operators and tour companies in the United States and Canada. Its membership consists of about 1,000 companies that operate buses or bus-based tours, about 2,800 organizations representing the travel and tourism industry, and several hundred suppliers of buses and related products and services.  The motorcoach, travel and tourism industry claims to be playing a growing role in helping the U.S. economy on its “road” to recovery. The U.S. Travel Association says the total economic impact of the travel and tourism industry is $1.9 trillion, supporting 14.4 million American jobs. Specifically in the motorcoach industry, suppliers and manufacturers employ nearly 1.1 million people and are generating nearly $113 billion in economic activity.  So you wouldn’t want to throw it under the bus….

San Diego: American Economic Association

January 4-6, 2013. The American Economic Association (AEA) gets its members from business and professional groups. The main focus is the encouragement of economic research, especially the historical and statistical study of “the actual conditions of industrial life”. Membership is around 18,000, over half of whom are academics; about 15% are employed in business and industry, and the remainder work largely for federal, state, and local government, or other not-for-profit organizations. Once composed primarily of college and university teachers of economics, the association now attracts an increasing number of members from business and professional groups. AEA, in conjunction with over 50 associations in related disciplines, holds its three-day meeting to present papers on general economic subjects. About 500 scholarly sessions are held each year. “The actual conditions of industrial life” these days are not all positive, so there was lots to talk about…