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US: WF&FSA shifts conference timeline, tweaks requirements

The Wholesale Florist & Florist Supplier Association is shaking up the timeline and attendee requirements of its long-running Floral Distribution Conference this year, in what Executive Vice President Molly Alton Mullins said is an effort to make the event more relevant, convenient and valuable to wholesalers.

“Our main goal is to provide as much value as we can for our members,” Mullins said. “Last year, we had record attendance, but we want to continue to evolve the event.”

This year, the conference takes place Oct. 16 to 18 at the Miami Airport Convention Center. The shift to a Tuesday-to-Thursday timeline (rather than Wednesday through Friday) was in response to feedback from WF&FSA members, and it moves the conference out of direct competition with the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in Orlando on Oct. 18 to 20. For the first time, WF&FSA is also requiring conference attendees to be WF&FSA members, a change Mullins said will allow the association to vet and screen attendees and tabletop exhibitors, ensuring a “more level playing field” among all participants.

“We want to make sure that every attendee is of the quality that our members want to do business with,” she said, noting that so far the new requirement has been “well received.”

While Mullins said she hopes that change does lead to an uptick in WF&FSA membership, the new policy was motivated more by a desire to elevate the event than financial considerations.

The Floral Distribution Conference has seen strong attendance — with turnouts between 600 and close to 800 people — in recent years. (Last year, some 770 people attended the event.)

Mullins said WF&FSA’s decision to hold the conference annually in Miami and at the Airport Convention Center, rather than a resort, has helped make the conference accessible to busy industry members while more clearly branding it as a “business meeting,” rather than a vacation.

This year WF&FSA is offering several incentives for the conference, including a buy-one-get-one registration through June 15 and a drawing for two nights’ accommodation at the Doubletree Miami Airport Hotel for all attendees who register by that early bird deadline. In addition, WF&FSA is offering complimentary conference registration to any WF&FSA members who have never attended the event, or who have not attended since 2010.

“We’re making a big push for people who haven’t been to the Floral Distribution Conference — or haven’t been in a long time — to come this year and see what’s new,” Mullins said. “We’re excited about this year’s event and want them to see the new WF&FSA.”


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