Smaller conferences are great for growers

That gust of wind you feel at the beginning of summertime is growers in the horticulture industry finally getting a chance to breathe after a strenuous spring. It’s one of the reasons why the Cultivate trade show in July is so popular: It’s like a harvest festival after the spring is over.

When you’re completely surrounded by your work for months on end, it feels like a relief to poke your head out and see other people and a change of scenery.¬†There’s a festive atmosphere around Cultivate, where folks¬†from all walks of life in the horticulture industry fill the halls for education, information and fellowship.

Cultivate18 growers

Cultivate is an amazing place for growers, but it can be overwhelming with all the exhibitors. (Photo courtesy of AmericanHort)

But Cultivate is also massive. You wouldn’t believe how many times we hear after the show, “Every time I came around to see you, you were busy.” On one hand, that’s great for us. We like it when we’re that busy in the trade show. On the other hand, we miss out on seeing friends, prospects and associates in the industry. We know others who attend the show go through the same thing.

That’s why it’s important for growers to go to some of the smaller, regional shows that take place outside of the big shows like Cultivate. When you go to a regional show — like the 2018 Plug & Cutting Conference coming up this month in Charlotte — you get a completely different experience.

Growers can find more with less at smaller shows

Even before the Greater Columbus Convention Center expanded, it was easy to feel overwhelmed when standing in the middle of the Cultivate trade show floor. There were 689 exhibitors at Cultivate’18 for growers to visit. You would have to visit approximately 34 booths in each of the 20.5 hours of the trade show in order to see everything — which is about 1.75 minutes per booth.

Now of course, I doubt there’s anyone who needs to visit every single booth at Cultivate. But let’s just say someone wants to visit 20 booths at the show. If you want to have an in-depth conversation with the 20 companies, you’d still only have an hour with each of them — which leaves no time for any of the educational sessions during those days — or even to stop for lunch.

Now take the upcoming Plug & Cutting Conference: There are only 50 booths in the trade show with 49 exhibitors. Aside from the time during the trade show hours, growers can meet with exhibitors during breakfast and the reception on the trade show floor. While you may not get a chance to have an in-depth conversation with everyone either, you will have a better chance to visit the people you want.

Smaller shows give growers more specifics

AmericanHort does a great job giving growers shows that are specific to their various needs. While Cultivate caters to the masses, a show like the Plug & Cutting Conference will give young plant growers an opportunity to talk shop knowing everyone there is focused on their segment.

There’s other shows in AmericanHort’s roster that cater to all growers, but on a smaller scale. The Production Technology Conference they hosted last year in Dallas was a great example. Instead of focusing on a smaller segment of growers, it focused on providing a segmented topic applicable to everyone.

Both of these concepts allow for a more intimate experience. At Cultivate, we never know what the topic of conversation will be in our booth from one guest to the next. At the Plug & Cutting Conference, we know the topics will be specific to young plant growers. At the Production Technology Conference, we knew we were going to be speaking with tech-minded growers.

The great thing is AmericanHort is constantly looking for new ways to segment their membership to provide the best programs. While the Plug & Cutting Conference is a veteran event, the Production Technology Conference was a new format for the changing needs of the horticulture industry.

The best way to see the programs you want from AmericanHort is to speak up. I don’t care if you’re in the Top 100 Growers or a small mom-and-pop organization: AmericanHort needs to hear from you in order to craft the best shows for its membership.

But for now, we’re looking forward to seeing everyone coming in for the 2018 Plug & Cutting Conference. We hope you’ll have the chance — and the time — to see us at our booth or on the Bus Tour.

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