RICHMOND, Ky. — The Association for Linen Management (ALM) says that like most things for 2020, this year’s IMPACT Conference was a new adventure.
Set in one of the most beautiful and adventure-loving areas of the United States, Colorado Springs, Colorado, it was also one of the most difficult ALM has ever produced, the association says. Canceling would have been easier, but the encouragement to hold a hybrid event, both in-person and virtual, was overwhelming from across the industry.
First-time IMPACT attendee, Paolo Idurot, production manager at Ottawa Regional Hospital Linen Services, was impressed by his virtual experience, “What an IMPACT this conference has made on my journey of learning in this industry!”
In-person attendees were clearly delighted to be in the presence of industry colleagues after months of isolation and were especially enamored by the setting of the one-of-a-kind Broadmoor Hotel among the breathtaking Rocky Mountains.
The hotel, a laundry member of ALM, was responsive to last-minute changes, enabling us to adhere to social distancing requirements and safety recommendations, as well as handling technology needs.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the hybrid 2020 IMPACT Conference in Colorado Springs,” says Kathy Harris, an in-person attendee from Sea Island Resort in Georgia. “Because the sessions were available for virtual attendees as well, it enabled all attendees, including hospitality, the opportunity to continue learning.
“It was great to hear what others are doing to help manage COVID challenges and what measures various operations have put in place. And it was nice to see people in person after being quarantined, even if it was in a socially distanced manner.”
ALM says perhaps the greatest responses, from both virtual and in-person attendees, came from the general session, Benchmarking: A Business Essential. Cara Walton, engagement manager with Harbour Results Inc., an operational and strategic advisory firm, shared outcomes derived from five years of benchmarking data collection from the tool and die manufacturing industry. That industry shares many common attributes with the textile care industry, such as a focus on production, throughput and plant efficiency.
Analysis revealed that tool and die companies making decisions derived from benchmarking data were 16% more efficient than those that failed to participate in benchmarking, clearly demonstrating the added value external benchmarking brings to an operation.
Harbour Result’s analysis of early anonymous data from LaundryMarks® revealed that profitability and operational size are not necessarily correlated; bigger, alone, doesn’t equate to better.
Secondly, data revealed that automation alone does not drive profitability. As the number of laundries participating in LaundryMarks® continues to grow, the value of using benchmarked data to make informed business decisions, driving proactive planning, and identifying strengths and weaknesses will place those laundries at a competitive advantage.
Registered attendees may watch any session from the IMPACT app, and the presentations are also available for purchase on ALM’s website, under About ALM, Online Store.
Beautiful weather in Colorado Springs facilitated outdoor networking events in the evenings.
The first day concluded with attendees gathering by fire pits for lively conversation, appetizers, and s’mores, after partaking in a favorite mountain pastime: hatchet throwing! The event was sponsored by Ellis Corp., G.A. Braun and Propeller Solutions Group. Virtual attendees got in on the action, thanks to sponsors providing items for a fun a goody box, shipped directly to the attendees before the start of IMPACT.
Tuesday night’s Cocktails & Moonlight event, hosted by MIP Inc., provided delicious food and mixology lessons for MIP signature cocktails, including a special drink request from Mark Mann, U.S. vice president of sales for MIP.
“We’re proud to have supported ALM in the new hybrid endeavor and are glad so many attendees appreciated being able to join us both in-person and virtually,” says Mann.
“2020 definitely demanded a crazy drink, so I chose the Walking Dead shot. Being able to share the experience in person was a nice change of pace from the last few months, and we at MIP are grateful for the hard work ALM staff did to provide this event to the industry, regardless of attendees’ locations.”
Providing a cohesive experience for both in-person and virtual attendees was extremely difficult and not at all ideal, ALM says. Due to COVID numbers climbing again across the United States just before the conference began, many who were planning to attend in person switched to virtual the last week of October to provide their customers with necessary textile services.
ALM says its educational programming produces one of the more favorable buyer/seller ratios at its events. Fifty-five percent of companies who participated in IMPACT overall, were from laundry/linen entities, as were 41% of the companies attending in-person.
In comparison, the ratio at its 2018 conference in Savannah was 61%.
“All things considered, we think this is an excellent turnout,” says ALM.
ALM leadership is looking to host the next IMPACT Educational Conference in fall 2021. Full details on the location and dates will be forthcoming. With the Clean Show moving to July 2022 multiple options are being considered.