A Show Their Own
Elan Takes a Chance at Hosting Its Own Dealer Conference
By David Dritsas
Elan Home Systems wagered that it could host a two day conference for its network of dealers, hoping that many of them would make a trip off the beaten path to Lexington, Ky., home to horse racing, bourbon and Elan's corporate headquarters. The bet paid-off in spades, as approximately 380 people attended, beating the company's most optimistic expectations. The population ranged from owners to salespeople to technicians.
"I was hoping for 150," said Cat Fowler, director of marketing for Elan, "but by the the end I was unfortunately turning people away." Held in the hall of the Hyatt Regency in Lexington, the space was just barely enough for everyone in attendance. Next year, Fowler hopes to expand the show so she can add room for more.
"We plan on opening up attendance to a larger audience and in this regard will likely move the date to June to make it more convenient for more people to attend as opposed to May. We are also planning on expanding our course offerings and adding a host of more intimate break-out sessions in order to offer dealers even more options," Fowler said. "In addition, we will increase the physical space of the event due to this year's overwhelming response and our expectation that as a result of this year's success there will be a significant increase in attendance next year."
And if the conference bore any resemblance to PARA's (Professional Audio/Video Retailer's Association) annual conference, it should come as no surprise. Debra Smith, PARA's former director, who departed the association to become a freelance consultant, helped Elan design and run the event. Her trademark method of matching business and motivational keynote speakers with smaller "breakout" sessions, concentrating on specific dealer eduction topics (not to mention frequent open-bar cocktail parties and awards dinners), kept the two days full. And while this was primarily an Elan event, Lutron, Vantage systems and GE Security stepped in with sponsorship dollars, and were permitted to set up booths at the main conference room, promoting their lines of home control and other products.