Relationships built on personal contact justify the cost of attending industry meetings and conferences. With the escalating costs of international air travel and hotel accommodation it is tempting to many organisations and individuals to cut back on attending conferences or trade shows.
The last International Protea Association (IPA) conference, held in Santiago, Chile, in April 2012, had a lower than normal attendance, largely due to global financial stresses leading to budget cutbacks and noticeable industry uncertainty. Despite this, the conference was deemed a success, and the IPA has taken the bold decision to continue the tradition of joint industry and science conferences, and is preparing for Perth, Australia, from 20th to 25th August in 2015. As well as hosting the International Protea Working Group on behalf of ISHS, the IPA is also holding the symposium for the New Ornamental Crops group. There is much overlap of the interests of these two groups and the IPA hopes this will also lead to extended networks for IPA members.
Tweeting, Skyping and linking on social and business virtual networks can sustain but not create the strong bonds formed through personal contact.
Social media has changed the way we communicate. Contact is easy to make on a superficial level and, particularly for global industries, maintaining contact is certainly easier across time zones and international boundaries. For some businesses this superficiality is suitable, perhaps even desirable. Personal contact is still the best way to build relationships for many industries, and it is these personal relationships that contribute to networks that span decades.
Since its inception in 1981 IPA has held sixteen conferences. The first scientific meeting of the international Protea industry was held in Melbourne in 1986, attended by 150 participants from 9 countries. IPA continues to represent the global industry with 11 member countries and 5 associate countries. It is the continuity of face-to-face meetings that has contributed to the strength of personal relationships that continue to drive the association and the global industry.
Pictured is the International Protea Industry meeting in Chile 2012.