What do Beer and the Xplor Conference have in common?

I recently read an article that drinking a beer or two a day can significantly impact your health, in a good way. In fact, I was so moved by the article I popped open a beer immediately.

Yes, according to the article the “side” effects from a beer or two a day include: stronger heart, stronger bones, reduced risk of diabetes , lower blood pressure, longer life, healthier kidneys , boosted brain power, reduced cancer risk, boosted vitamin levels and reduced stroke risk.

I have said this for years that that golden nectar, barley and hops was good for you. Guess I am just a bit ahead of my time.

To read the whole article visit: http://health.yahoo.net/experts/dayinhealth/10-surprising-health-benefits-beer

This got me to thinking “what do beer and the Xplor conference have in common”. Then it came to me, both the Xplor conference and our ongoing programming is good not only for your personal well-being but your business well-being also.

  1. Xplor programming will boost your brain power as you will be armed with the latest trends andbest practices in the industry
  2. If you have the answers, know the information, you most likely will have lower your blood pressure.
  3. If armed with this knowledge and confidence you become a positive “movement” within your company, thus extending and providing a longer corporate life.
  4. Your brain is working, your blood pressure is good, things are going well which gives you a reduced stroke risk.
  5. As a result you have a longer life and live happily ever after!

For additional health benefits attend the Xplor Conference and Vendor Forum March 27-29, 2012 in beautiful St. Pete Beach, Florida.

Hurry before the organizers (that’s me) realize all of these benefits and raise the price. Think I will have a beer or two and check out the registration site. I am feeling healthier already!

See you in St. Pete Beach!

Merriments, Milestones and Motion for Xplor in 2012

Happy New Year!

I hope all of you had a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and enjoyable New Years.

It would be understatement to say that 2011 was an interesting year and that most people hope 2012 will be more prosperous.

Like most organizations 2011 was a challenging but successful one for Xplor. Despite everything that is going on in the economy and our industry, we are still here, due solely to your support and participation. (Without you there would be no Xplor) I did want to a brief report of milestones in 2011:

  • A successful 2011 Conference and Vendor Forum with a 29% increase in attendance
  • Successful conference at Graph Expo with 20% growth
  • 2011 XDU On the Road program – 6 new cities
  • Growing webinar curriculum (over 3000 individual participants)
  • Monthly Lunch and Learn program
  • Implemented a new conference registration system
  • Launched new Industry Services division
  • Grew membership 2.5% (in a very tough economy)

The plan for 2012 is to expand programming, information and continuing to grow value to our members and the industry that will keep you on the leading edge of document technology. This is some of what we have planned for 2012: (if you have any other ideas please contact me me)

My thanks to you all for your support and participation. I extend my best wishes for a prosperous and healthy 2012.

Until next time …..

Why do people wait? Please help me sleep!

As a purveyor of fine conference programming there are several things that cause organizers angst as the months and days count down before an event.

The top “anxiety” revolves around how many people are going to attend. No matter how big or small the event, everything revolves around people.  Like anything else it is all about budgets and numbers.

Why the anxiety? There are huge financial implications, no matter what the size of the event.

The anxiety:  Every year people seem to be registering later and later for conferences and tradeshows. 70% of the people register within the last 45-60 days, despite “early registration incentives”.  It keeps organizers up at night.

The angst: We contract for hotel room blocks, transportation, meals, entertainment, audio visual, etc. based on anticipated attendance.

Some event costs are variable others are not. ALL have minimums which drive negotiated hotel room rates, internet fees, etc. The hotel /facility contracts for a minimum total spend.

  • Event organizers negotiate with hotels to get favorable rates for conference attendees. If at least 90% of the rooms are not sold, the organizer is responsible for the remaining rooms.
  • Food at conference centers, hotels and convention centers is outrageously expensive which is why few events provide lunches or  have multiple networking events as part of registration. A box lunch, $20-24 plus tax and a service fee.  A buffet or sit down lunch, a lot more.
  • Any event that involves hot food and alcohol is expensive. A “networking event” three hours in length, with open bar and hot food, $80 -120 per person, depending on menu, plus 22% service charge.
  • Renting a LCD projector ranges from $600-750 per day at a hotel/convention center depending on the lumens plus screen, cart, support, etc. Multiply by 6-7, one for each session room and number of days.
  • Many of sponsored events are subsidized by the organizers as marketing dollars are getting harder and harder to get.
  • Organizers don’t make “tons of money” on events contrary to popular belief. A $250k event may yield 20-25% after expenses, not including staff costs to organize. Lot of work . Labor of love.

Please help me sleep:  If you can answer these questions I may be able to come up with a solution that could be mutually beneficial. (send me your thoughts and I will give you an additional $100 off conference registration)

  1. What decisions drive when you actually register for events?
  2. When do you start looking at events in terms of time?
  3. What could we do as organizers to incent you to register 60-90 days ahead of an event?

The plug: The 2012 Xplor Conference and Vendor Forum taking place March 27-29, at the TradeWinds Island Grand on St. Pete Beach includes: 70+ educational sessions, (3) lunches, (2) networking events and a vendor forum that features 32 of the best vendors in the industry.

Full conference:  Early registration:  $795 member/$995 non-member Regular registration: $895 member / $1145 non-member

Registration open December 1 at www.xplor.org , click on 2012 Xplor Conference and Vendor forum.

Everyone Needs a Pat on the Back, Even Companies

Everyone likes a pat on the back occasionally, some more than others.

Experts agree that recognition and appreciations is an important part of the human DNA. Recognition inspires and fosters a positive work environment, minimizes turnover and maximizes customer satisfaction.

But why do many companies, who are made up of people, not display the collective need for recognition. So many companies are doing extraordinary things in so many areas, but do not feel the need to seek recognition and validation for their employees.

Perhaps companies have trimmed their staff so much they do not have the time to pursue recognition, however not doing so is very short-sighted.

Seeking industry recognition is actually inexpensive, not that time consuming and can paybig dividends. Industry recognition can drive your public image, increase brand awareness, validate your product or service, generate employee pride and drive revenue. Why would a company not want to do it?

For 20+ years Xplor International, as an association, has recognized companies in the electronic document space that have implemented unique solutions. I invite you to consider submitting an application for a “pat on the back” for your company and all of the innovative hardworking employees with it.

Both members and non-members are eligible for three industry awards.

  • Technology Application of the Year
  • Innovator of the Year
  • The Brian Platte Lifetime Achievement

Visit http://xplor.org/HonorsAward.cfm for more information including a list of past recipients and to submit a nomination.

All award nominations must be submitted on the Xplor International nomination form. A summary of the nominee’s accomplishments must accompany this nomination. Please limit your nomination to 1500 words or less to be submitted in the scroll down portion of the web nomination form.

Submit your nominations by Friday, December 16, 2011.

If you have any questions, please contact Lynn Robbins, Honors and Awards, at 813 949-6170, or via e-mail at awards@xplor.org.

Everyone needs a pat on the back occasionally, even companies. 

Success for XPLOR and Emerging Technology at GRAPH EXPO

It has been almost three weeks since I returned from Graph Expo and finally have decompressed, sorted through dozens of business cards, press kits and the tchotchkes, determining which I would keep and which ones would go to my nine year old daughter.

This being Xplor’s second year holding a conference program at the event I am pleased to report registration and attendance was up 23% over 2010. I was quite satisfied with the results and look forward to 2012.

Graph Expo, or Digital Expo?

I am not sure if it crept up on me or if I simply spent more time on the show floor this year but Graph Expo has morphed into digital and apparently I am not alone. In an InfoBlog posted by Jim Hamilton, September 22nd he stated:  “For all practical purposes, as one looks at the list of top vendors in recent years, Graph Expo has become dominated by digital exhibitors. Heidelberg was the number one exhibitor until 2008, when it did not exhibit, and it probably was the top exhibitor for many shows prior to Graph Expo 2004.”

To read the whole blog click here: http://blog.infotrends.com/?p=5291

Every year I look forward to saying hello to the ever increasing number of Xplor sponsors and supporters and checking out the new, evolving and emerging technologies.

This year was a bit more difficult as I had many more companies on my agenda. I will apologize ahead of time if I slight someone, it is not intentional.

Invitation only

I had received quite a few “pre-event” releases and invitations to “stop by our booth” and see what was new. (OK many were not really invitation only but were intriguing) Here are a few highlights. I won’t go into much detail, but suggest you check them out.

Bell and Howell – I was invited by Mike Maselli, VP of Marketing and Product Management, to stop by and see “the new Bell and Howell” and there was a great deal to see. The “enveloper’” is  a real slick product that actually wraps the envelope around inserts. A great demonstration. Their new control system that talks to you and has online support via Skype and their inserter technology demonstration  that does 30k envelopes per hour.  The new Bell & Howell is off to a great start based on what I saw. Visit www.BellHowell.net for more info.

Keen – A new comer to Graph Expo, in fact it was their first tradeshow. Met with Vitaly Golomb, the Founder and CEO, who demonstrated their web to print solution. There are a lot of them out there but this one is special. Check out www.keenprint.com or www.rethinkprint.biz

Konica- Minolta – An old friend I worked with at Kodak, Mike Watt, is now with Konica Minolta and gave me a personal tour of the Screen Trupress Jet520. I also spent some time with Erik Holdo, SVP Production Print Solutions. Konica-Minolta has signed up for the 2012 Xplor Conference and Vendor Forum, March 27-29 in Tampa Bay and Erik Holdo’s presentation will be “tasty”. You will have to attend experience it. (I assure you you will not attend another presentation like it.) This printer is worth checking out. Visit www.kmbs.konicaminolta.us

Pitney Bowes – A couple weeks prior to Graph Expo I received a briefing from Pitney Bowes on their new MarketSpace product. This product has the potential to be a game changer for any company that prints bills and statements and advertisers that want to reach their audience.

In a nutshell, MarketSpace matches advertisers with producers of bills and statements, facilitating the sale of whitespace to a demographically specific audience. This could finally bring Transpromo into the mainstream. Based on what I saw of the program, this could be a win-win for all: advertisers, document producers and consumers.

If you are a document producer or advertiser check out a short video at for more information: http://apps.vg/v/4e776cb0eaeac02f030004e6/

Graph Expo 2012 or Digital Expo 2012

No matter what you call it, Graph Expo has gone beyond traditional print. Digital has become the order of the day, and not just paper. This show has become the largest event in North America for digital output and communications.

Mark your calendars – October 7-10, 2012 for Graph Expo 2012

What’s happened to Graph Expo?

As I prepare for the upcoming Graph Expo event, September 11-14th, in Chicago I started to think about the many years that I have attended the event as an end user, vendor and now association president for the electronic document industry.

Yesterday, I spent some time reviewing the 2011 floor plan and was amazed how the list of exhibitors has evolved over the years.  An evolution, so subtle, it may even have gone unnoticed for some segments of the industry.

Graph Expo is (was) an offset printing show

Subsequent to making my Graph Expo plans,  I had a conversation with a member of the Xplor community and asked whether they were going to attend the show and specifically the Xplor at Graph Expo conference.

He said, “no, but a couple people from our in-plant department are going. I am on the transactional side, Graph is an offset printing show. ”  I spent a few moments defending the event, discussing the traditional Xplor vendors, that he did business with,  that are on the floor plan. The education, that focuses on variable data, applications and transactional print, including the Xplor conference.

I suggested he take another look.  His, reply got me to think, “how many people are missing this great event due to perception?” (which is why I am writing this blog)

A quick trip through time

Graph Expo started as a trade show for the printing industry. I mean for the “real” printers, the ones that when you walk into their shop, you smell the ink. There were plates, color separation and craftsman who gauged their work on perfection through a “loop”.

The event started to morph when digital typesetters hit the floor. The latest and great presses continued to appear from Heidelberg, KBA, manroland, Goss, Ryobi and Komori to name a few but over the years lesser known names in traditional print circles like, Delphax, IBM, Oce’ Nipson and  Kodak started showing the early “digital presses”.

Then came digital color, faster color, better and less expensive color hit the show floor as well as a few new digital press manufacturers. All during this time more and more software companies began to exhibit, many who cut their teeth in the variable data and transactional print world.

Today, Graph Expo is print, any kind of print you want on any kind of media, but it is also about applications, web based solutions, social media, SMS and education and practical advice and actionable solutions for immediate implementation.

I invite you to attend Xplor at Graph Expo as my guest. If you use registration code XSFREE you can receive a complimentary pass to the show floor and attend one of the 18 educational sessions that are part of the Xplor at Graph Expo conference. Check it out, you will be surprised.

To register visit for your complimentary educational session and show floor pass visit: www.graphexpo.com/SessionsEvents/XplorConference.aspx

See you in Chicago.

I have a digital press now what?

Digital printing has come a long way over the last 5-10 years, with the latest and greatest being displayed at the upcoming Graph Expo, September 11-14 in Chicago.

Although feeds, speeds, quality and cost are always part of the discussion when talking about a digital press, applications and how to maximize the press has taken center stage.

Ask not how your printer does it, but what you can do with your printer!

Maximizing your investment means getting up to speed quickly, understanding themarket and exploiting every capability of your digital press. It requires information, knowledge, best practices and new ideas which can found at conferences, seminars, webinars and social networks. One idea, just one nugget, can turn a digital press from overhead to a profit center.

Take advantage of the knowledge that is out there rather than re-inventing the wheel. Even if you are doing well, you can always find new ideas to increase revenue and reduce expense.

Ideas and nuggets available at Graph Expo!

Yes, a little self promotion here, but you must admit I do not do it very often in my blog. (In fact I think this a first).

Great ideas, best practices and a bag full of nuggets are available at the Xplor at Graph Expo conference. The Xplor conference will focus on: automation, document design, document re-engineering, multi-channel delivery and new application opportunities Sessions include:

Would you spend $100, $200 or $300 to make (or save) $10k, 20K or even $100k? (Maybe a million)

Click here for more information and dig for a few nuggets.

Hope to see you in Chicago.

The old dog remembers

This morning I board a flight back to sunny Florida after visiting the ON DEMAND event in Washington DC. Like any industry trade show, I had the opportunity to run into people I know, many of which are Xplor members.

Many of the people I ran into were looking forward to being at the Xplor Conference and Vendor Forum a little over a week away in St. Pete Beach.  One of the members I quipped, “Just what you need, another trade show.”

Her reaction surprised me as she looked me straight into eyes and said “the Xplor conference is not a trade show, it is an event.”  At first, I thought she was being sarcastic but she quickly followed with “for the last two years I have come back with ideas, I met new people and I was able to engage in meaningful dialogue. The Xplor event is different.”

After we finished our conversation with, “see you in a couple weeks”, I continued my trek on the show floor but was haunted by what she said. This being my 26th Xplor conference, had this old dog forgot what the event was and what it represented to the attendees? Was I too close to it and in being so, lost what Xplor was bringing to the table? Had I forgot this event made a difference in the industry?

What other industry event can you listen to great speakers and subject matter experts,
each lunch with them and colleagues, visit with great vendors. Relax and network at the social events?   (There are also lots of surprises for our 30th anniversary year. Get your picture taken with a real Oscar at the Kodak moment, meet Captain Jack Sparrow and be part of the birthday celebration)

She was right. It is an event. The perfect blend of education, information and networking and it is less than two weeks away. I am glad that I ran into her in DC and I thank her for reminding me why we do what we do.

Hope to see you in St. Pete Beach …. I know I am looking forward to it (again).

For more information visit http://xplor.org/Xplor2011/

This pirate looks at 30

Living in Florida most people are Parrotheads. (Jimmy Buffet fans for those of you who are not familiar) Last night as I was driving home from the office I listened to his song “A pirate looks at 40”. It is about a pirate that takes a nostalgic look at his life.

It got me thinking about the 30th year anniversary of Xplor and our upcoming celebration at the Xplor Conference.

My first conference was in Orlando some 26-27 years ago at the Buena Vista Hotel in Orlando, a hotel conference center. There were great sessions and a pipe and drape exhibit.  Everyone stayed at the same hotel and knew each other by the end of the week. I am still in touch with many of them today through Xplor.

If I look at the past conferences I remember the vast amount of information available as well as the ideas I took away turning them into revenue and cost savings. (enough to raise 8 kids)

My most prized possession is my personal network of “Xplorers” from around the globe who have shared information, helped me solve problems and have recommended a good place to stay, more than once, during my personal travels. Answers are a call or email away.

The Orlando conference set the stage for not only my career but my personal life, as every job I have gotten over the last 25 years is a result of being at Xplor.  I even met my wife at Xplor.

So as this pirate looks at 30, this years program offers you the same benefits: great information, the opportunity to turn information into revenue and building a global network of peers, who will become your friends. (No guarantee on being lucky enough to find a spouse J)

If you would like to join us visit Xplor 2011 and use promotion code XPLORPMC and register for $745 (a $350 savings) and a chance to have your conference fee refunded.

In addition to access to great information and people, full conference registration includes: Access to 60+ educational sessions, general sessions, vendor forum admission, (3) lunches, (3) networking … the best conference and best value in the industry, if I do say so myself.

Our digital brochure

Next: I did not forget about Visionary or Visualist!