In my neck of the woods at the sunny Jersey shore, summer is a peak time for lots of fun and interesting activities involving sun, sand and sea. If you’re a kid, however, one of the best things about summer in my neighborhood—or most neighborhoods—is hearing the calliope sound of the ice cream truck rolling down your street. 

Whether it’s Mister Softee, Good Humor or Billy Bob’s Brain Freeze (O.K., I made that one up), the sound of the ice cream vendor sends the average kid into paroxysms as he tries to scare up the money for a treat while flagging down that seemingly fast-moving vehicle. Then comes the impossible task of matching one’s insatiable desire for ice cream with the amount of money one has been able to beg or borrow. 

Now let’s suppose you are that kid and you have been given a dollar. Let’s also suppose that ice cream bars cost a dollar each, and you are stuck trying to decide between two equally taste-tempting choices. What to do? But wait, fate has smiled upon you. This particular ice cream vendor is looking to sell out his stock as quickly as possible, so he’s offering a buy-one-get-one-free sale. You gleefully hand over your buck and take charge of two delicious cones.

But now comes another problem. It’s an oppressively hot summer day on which—and you know this from hard experience—you will have precisely enough time to eat only one of the cones before the other melts. What are your choices? You could offer one of the cones to your little brother, but you really want both for yourself. You could decide to eat only one cone, but that will defeat the whole blessing of your freebie. Or you could try to eat both cones at once, thereby ending up with two melted, half-eaten cones. 

This conundrum is very much like what insurance technology show-goers will face in 2010, when the IASA and ACORD LOMA conferences will be held only 10 days apart.  With ACORD LOMA set for May 24-26 in Las Vegas, and IASA scheduled for June 6-9 in Grapevine, Texas, exhibitors and other show-goers will have a difficult choice indeed. 

When I asked exhibitors, who normally go to both events, some told me they will have to make a choice between the two, primarily due to limited marketing budgets. This makes sense if you’re a company that is introducing a new product because introducing it twice in the same 10-day span seems wasteful at best, if not foolish. Then there’s the problem of finding a place to store your booth during the brief period between the conferences. 

Those who attend for the educational sessions may also have trouble justifying two such trips within two weeks of each other. Will they opt for the terrific educational sessions offered by ACORD LOMA, or perhaps the hands-on practical sessions to be found at IASA? It would surprise me if insurers and others who want practical information would have the budget to opt for both. 

Back to the exhibitors, those who told me they would still attend both were not generally happy about the prospect. An oft-heard comment was that an exhibitor was signing up for a particular show in 2010 only because the competition would be there, or because not signing up might send a negative signal about the health of the vendor. 

It’s really a shame that conference-goers have to make a choice between three unsatisfactory alternatives. Unfortunately, this may force exhibitors in particular to make fine choices between the merits of the two conferences. It may also turn out to be a referendum on the drawing power of the two events. 

It’s probably too late for either organization to change its date for 2010, given the necessity of nailing down venues in advance to get the best rates. In the future, however, one would hope that the sponsoring organizations would seek to s parate their conferences sufficiently to allow vendors and education seekers to have both the Chunky Monkey and the Heath Bar Crunch. 

Ara C. Trembly (www.aratremblytechnology.com) is the founder of Ara Trembly, The Tech Consultant and a longtime observer of technology in insurance and financial services. He can be reached at ara@aratremblytechnology.com.

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

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