LOMA And ACORD Will Merge Their Tech Conferences Next Year

By Ara C. Trembly

At a time when industry technology trade shows have seen a decline in attendance, LOMA and ACORD have announced they are merging their annual technology conferences next year “to form one of the industrys largest conferences.”

According to Atlanta-based LOMA, the ACORD LOMA Insurance Systems Forum will take place at the Paris Las Vegas hotel May 23-26, 2004. “We are co-owners of this new entity,” says Rick Gilman, vice president of Pearl River, N.Y.-based ACORD. “We didnt purchase their conference and they didnt purchase ours.”

The LOMA Systems Forum, which began in 1965, and the ACORD conference, which launched in 1993, draw more than 200 exhibitors and 2,500 attendees from around the globe, said LOMA.

In 2002, however, official attendance at the LOMA Systems Forum in Hollywood, Fla., was reported to be 650–a 24% drop from the 2001 figure of 850. As reported by National Underwriter last April, several disappointed exhibitors pegged the crowd at about half of the 2001 level, based on the light traffic they saw on the exhibit floor.

According to Ann Purr, second vice president, information management, at LOMA, however, the merger of the conferences “is not a result of attendance problems. That was not the motivation, because we have been talking about [combining the conferences] for at least 18 months. There have been other attempts to do this in the past, but they didnt come to fruition.

“This came out of a desire to create something that–if you can only go to one meeting a year–you will know this is the one you need to go to,” she adds.

According to Gilman, attendance at ACORDs technology conference dropped off by only 50 people in 2002. He adds that both LOMA and ACORD believe the combined conference will have some overlap of attendees, “but we believe it will grow.”

“We felt that [LOMA and ACORD] each brought to the table something important and each has something different to offer,” Purr explains. “We have a lot of the same exhibitors and they are thrilled. It gives them the opportunity to do one show in a bigger way.”

Purr asserts that creating a larger conference would yield “better speakers with more attendees and more traffic for exhibitors.”

“This partnership will create the largest and most comprehensive technology show that our industry has ever seen. We are committed to bringing the quality that people have come to expect from ACORD and LOMA over the years,” says Thomas P. Donaldson, president and CEO of LOMA.

The associations say they will run their technology conferences for 2003 as planned. The LOMA Systems Forum takes place March 2-5 in San Antonio. The ACORD Annual Conference is scheduled for May 18-20 in Orlando.

“By bringing together these two successful conferences, ACORD is able to expand participation from all parts of our industry–life, p&c, and reinsurance on the global market. And to be able to do this while leveraging the economies of scale, makes the Insurance Systems Forum a unique opportunity for educating the industry of the role of technology and standards,” says Gregory A. Maciag, president and CEO of ACORD.

“I think its a good thing,” says Judy Johnson, vice president of insurance strategy, Sapiens America, based in Cary, N.C. “Its becoming increasingly difficult for companies to send representatives to multiple conferences during the course of a year, both from a cost perspective and just from a value-received perspective. So it makes sense to take conferences and merge them to get one larger conference with greater depth.

“Attendance is down on all of these conferences,” she continues. “My only hope is that we dont end up with the insurance Comdex, where its so big that you cant possibly figure out how to do the right thing.” Comdex is the computer industrys largest annual show, which, at its peak, drew nearly 250,000 participants.

“On the other side is whether or not these organizations can actually manage conferences that are of this size and complexity,” says Johnson. “I dont know that either organization is prepared to manage this kind of event. I would urge them to think seriously about how thats going to happen.

“If I had to bet,” Johnson concludes, “my bet is that the first one is going to be a disaster. Its going to be an insurance Comdex, and hopefully everybody will learn from that.”

Gilman says the newly created conference is still “looking for more organizations that want to join.”

The associations have not yet specified how the conference work and organization will be divided.

ACORD (Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development) is a global, nonprofit insurance association whose mission is to facilitate the development and use of standards for the insurance, reinsurance and related financial services industries.

Established in 1924, with more than 1,250 member companies in over 70 countries, LOMA seeks to help members in the insurance and financial services industry to improve their management and operations through quality employee development, research, information sharing, and related products and services.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, February 3, 2003. Copyright 2003 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.