Dusting off the conference shoes
In-person events have come roaring back, and it seems manufacturers barely missed a beat
After a 23-month hiatus, I recently attended a large HVAC conference and expo. It came as no surprise that I’d forgotten how to pack for a professional conference. Dress shoes seemed foreign. Appropriately sized toiletries had gone untouched for several months. I was happy that I remembered to pack business cards and a portfolio.
While I’d traveled for pleasure during the COVID-19 lockdown, every conference had gone virtual or been canceled. The prospect of meeting people face-to-face in three dimensions was a bit daunting. Would I recognize the manufacturers’ representatives I hadn’t seen in two years? Should I shake hands? Would casual conversation be easy?
Fortunately, the convention center floor discussions, group meetings and one-on-one interactions went off without a hitch. While I’m sure many companies had gallons of hand sanitizer at the ready, it seemed as though everyone was ready to jump right back into the professional conference world with both feet.
These in person meetings, while brief, covered more in the short time than could have been covered at a virtual conference or via a prerecorded session. Not only was everyone armed with loads of new information, but they’d honed their message to ensure it was covered precisely and enthusiastically.
Because this was an HVAC-focused show, everyone talked about how their products and systems had fared over the past several months of the pandemic, and how they might change things in the future. The companies also discussed how new technology demands, such as smart systems and indoor air quality products, had expanded their business or encouraged them to work more quickly toward launching a new technology.
Similar to information obtained in the recent HVAC Equipment & Building Automation/Control Systems research study conducted by Consulting-Specifying Engineer, HVAC controls, building automation systems and IAQ were the lead of many conversations.
Decarbonization, resilience and energy efficiency also rose to the forefront of many talks. While these big-ticket concepts are hard to put into just a few words, many manufacturers did a good job explaining how much of their focus on one or more subjects was driving their research and development.
After my concerns about the HVAC industry being rusty, the challenges were put to bed quickly. And the face-to-face meetings really made the difference, and emphasized the importance of the solutions even more.