… in a place warm and sunny in early February, a group of individuals descended upon Orlando, Florida. Some were sneezy (from the Midwest cold), others were sleepy (from the west, due to time difference), most were happy, and although a few might have been grumpy or bashful, none were dopey. No, these were not Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, in spite of meeting right on the grounds of the Walt Disney World Resort. Rather, they were attendees of the Advantage Users Group Conference.
By all accounts, the conference was a tremendous success. After several years of dealing with bad weather in January, this was the first time that the conference was held in February. The weather cooperated beautifully and surrounding activities were fabulous. All told, there were 80 attendees—a conference record—representing 27 client companies from as far away as the UK, France and Australia.
The event provided a wonderful combination of beautiful scenery and weather, informative user presentations and roundtable group discussions. Topics included Credit Card Security and Compliance, Tokenization, Access Management, Business Intelligence, Web Capsules, Duplicate Consolidation, Conditional Letters, and Email Marketing, as well as an accumulation of Advantage Tips and Tricks from the user community.
In addition to the roundtable discussions, there were focused luncheon groups on specific topics. One such grouping involved "newbies" to Advantage who wanted to network specifically with other new users and an AMB guru—Sue Bukovsky from AMA—provided the expertise. Greg Erlandson, president of Our Sunday Visitor, was the keynote speaker and provided a fascinating and often humorous view of the challenges they face in serving the niche market of Catholics. His review of lessons learned was relevant for any publisher.
Dan Heffernanof ACS provided an update on ACS news, direction and strategy, and Dick Hile provided a technology update for changes coming in 2012.
Attendees were in awe at the changes planned for 2012.
Tim Swietek, Ogden, led the session on Credit Card Security as well as taking part in the web capsule panel.
In AUG business, Jim Browning, Value line and José Garcia, API, joined the Steering Committee and are looking forward to helping shape the 2013 conference.
Evenings were free for folks to network, relax in Orlando, or visit any one of the several Disney parks. One group made a dizzying tour (in more ways than one) of the various country pavilions at Epcot. On Thursday evening, attendees were treated to a riveting performance of Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba.
There was a great deal of excitement as well as a real sense of community during the conference as old relationships were rekindled and new ones established. It’s been a delight to see the camaraderie that has been built over the years among the various users as they strive to use Advantage as efficiently as possible to meet the various business needs in an ever-changing environment.
Sadly, by Friday afternoon attendees scurried off to catch various flights, but ideally…
… they all lived happily ever after.