LAUREL, Md. -- The Retail Bakers of America here will merge its bakery-deli conference and its convention-exhibition next year and will slice two days off the combined events.
The trade association's 1995 combined bakery-deli conference and annual convention-exhibition is set to run Saturday through Monday, March 11 to 13, in San Francisco -- for three days rather than the five consecutive days it had taken to run the two events separately. In addition, the seminar program will be fine-tuned to present information more efficiently, said Peter Houstle, executive vice president of RBA.
The sessions and seminars will likely be Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings and exhibits will be opened at noon each day. Since total exhibit hours will be fewer, each day's hours may be extended from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., he added.
The seminars also will be newly organized in "tracks" tailored to particular segments of the industry or particular areas of interest. "For example, there may be a retail track and an allied track or a management track and a technical track. Hopefully, we'll make it easier for people to choose," Houstle said.
Seminars won't be repeated as some have been in the past, so, to offset that, all sessions will be audio-taped and some video-taped.
Houstle added that dividing the day with sessions in the morning and an opportunity to see exhibits in the afternoon will be more productive.
"I think it's difficult for people, especially if they've been out of school for a while, to spend all day long in sessions. The new way should offer a more effective learning process," Houstle said.
"People are time-poor. The fact is that three days is sufficient for people to see a show, even a bigger one than ours. We know people want to get out, get it done, and get back home ASAP," Houstle said.
"Having everybody arrive at the same time will make an opportunity, too, for cross-pollination," Houstle said, adding that he's found that supermarket executives and in-store bakery employees are interested in what the independent or stand-alone bakeries are doing, and vice versa.
He said RBA members were particularly enthusiastic about the retailer roundtable discussions held during the conference-convention in St. Louis last month. "I had a lot of retailers tell me the interaction was amazing, and that they valued the opportunity to hear other perspectives," Houstle said.
"Anyway, it's been inefficient in the past to have supermarket executives coming in on Thursday night and not have exhibits open until Saturday afternoon."
Typically, the supermarket members arrived Thursday night and left Sunday morning, and the independents arrived Saturday morning and left Tuesday.
"These decisions have been a long time coming. Our members have been asking for them, and we felt everything was in place this year so it's the time to do it. We just completed a very successful conference and convention, and want to make the changes on the heels of success," Houstle said.