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Greg Stout (ACS) and Roger Domras (APA)

It's a perennial question ? where to meet in January to escape winter for a few days, where flight costs aren't prohibitive and where attendees might want to stay on for the weekend to enjoy some time away? The answer this year was Orlando, Florida ? the city chosen for the 2009 Advantage User's Group meeting which took place on January 21-23. The weather was unseasonably cool, but still a welcome change from the frigid temperatures across much of the country that same week. And there was plenty of sun, even if the temperature stubbornly refused to rise much above 50 degrees.

About 40 attendees representing 19 Advantage clients flew to Florida to meet for two full days. This year's program started with afternoon sessions on Wednesday which involved presentations by Advantage on such topics as "Advantage as your Marketing Partner," a recap of the AMB Forum held in July 2008, and an update on the progress of the Business Intelligence Module, now in development. This year, the cocktail receptions on Wednesday and Thursday evenings were co-sponsored by Ektron and Gold Lasso.

 

Arabian Nights
After the networking reception on Wednesday evening, an adventurous group took in "Orlando's #1 Dinner Attraction"?Arabian Nights, billed as "the world's greatest show?on horses!" There are no words I can think of to describe it-- you have to see it to believe it. Andy Wright (Oxford University Press) came out of the show saying: "I wouldn't have missed this for the world!" You'll have to ask him what he meant.

Thursday's sessions included an address by keynote speaker Patrick Sheposh, Corporate Circulation Director at Crain Communications. Patrick provided a thought-provoking view on technology and change and where the publishing industry is headed. This was followed by an update from the Customer Services Division of ACS, and short presentations by the above-mentioned sponsors. The afternoon began with a presentation by Tim Swietek (Ogden Publishing) and Wade Elmblad (Kalmbach) on improving traffic to your website. Following this, Dan Heffernan and Dick Hile presented the ACS perspective on software direction and Mona Hidayet capped the afternoon with a look at some of the features in the latest rev of Advantage.

Friday morning brought us some roundtable sessions, allowing users to interact in small groups to discuss various topics in more depth, and to share experiences at various client sites. This year the roundtable topics were:

Neal Hawkins (OAK)
rebels against the mouse ears.
  • Using the AMB module
  • Best practices for using web services & AIS
  • Email service provider integration
  • Upgrade strategies & best practices

After lunch on Friday, a User Group business meeting concluded this year's sessions, although a good number of attendees chose to stay in Florida for the weekend.

As always, the User Group was active, vocal and provided important input to the future direction of the Advantage application and how ACS conducts business. We at ACS greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts, ideas and priorities, and will be incorporating many of them in our plans.

Many thanks to the organizers for putting together an excellent event, and to all the speakers and roundtable presenters who shared their experiences and ideas. If you weren't able to make it this year, plan now to include the AUG meeting in your plans for next January. The networking and valuable ideas you will come away with are more than worth the cost.

I, for one, am looking forward to hearing about plans for 2010. Hey, to be absolutely certain of warm weather, how about somewhere south of the equator? Who's with me?



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