By DAN REYNOLDS, senior editor of Risk & Insurance®
It may have been an optical illusion due to the lighting in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, but the show floor at the annual conference of the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. (RIMS) may never have looked better in recent years than it did in Boston in late April.
To the trained eye, there were a lot more of the bigger booths and the aisles seemed to have a lot more character and balance to them.
The fruits of what we saw in Boston were a result of years and years of planning, 2010 being the 40th anniversary of the RIMS trade show.
"I have a lot of respect for the way they run that conference," said Joseph Kelly, a senior vice president and head of marketing for Swiss Re's Insurance and Specialty business.
"Logistically, I don't think anyone does it better," said Kelly.
In terms of the size of the trade shows that typically hit the big city convention centers, the RIMS show, with around 5,000 attendees this year and more than 400 trade show exhibitors, is in the medium range.
But there is one area, according to Kelly, that the RIMS trade show organizers stand out from the middle of the pack. And that, not surprisingly, is the level of risk management and safety considerations brought to bear on the RIMS trade show floor.
"They are probably the most strict when it comes to fire codes," Kelly said. "But then again, it would be kind of silly if the risk management conference wasn't," Kelly said.
ONE OF THE BIG THREE
Kelly's perspective carries a little weight because he works for a company that, because of its heritage, is counted as one of the original three RIMS exhibitors. The Hartford Steam Boiler and Inspection and Insurance Co. and Liberty Mutual are the other two that are counted in as keystone exhibitors at RIMS.
Swiss Re bought into that status when it bought GE Insurance Solutions in 2006. GE in turn bought the legacy of being an original exhibitor when it bought Industrial Risk Insurers, which in turn came out of a couple of companies, FAI and OAI, which were original RIMS exhibitors.
"There are five or six acronyms before Swiss Re came into the picture," Kelly said.
Although seniority is a factor in which company gets to pick what booth space, walking around the trade show floor this year in Boston, it didn't feel like any one exhibitor had the drop on any other in terms of where they were positioned. The aisles all the way down in the 100s and 200s looked just as appealing as the aisles in the 1200s and 1,300s.
"I think they do a pretty good job of trying to make it as fair as possible, even for some of the newer exhibitors that come along, and they have a shot at it," Kelly said, adding that seniority is a factor in where RIMS booths are placed but not the only factor.
"Some years you get a higher pick than others, although I think they do a good job of balancing it out. Their weighted average is kind of like the Colonel's recipe," Kelly said, indicating that the secret to the formula was just as well kept as Kentucky Fried Chicken's.
Ann Marie Devine, a meetings and events operations manager for RIMS, said the number of convention facilities that RIMS is going to be able to fit into is going to become more and more limited as the RIMS show continues to grow.
And why will the show continue to grow? The show will continue to grow because the world of risk and risk management is governed by the Big Bang Theory and the physical laws of entropy. It is an ever-expanding world.
"We are growing to the point where there are not a lot of facilities we fit into anymore," Devine said.
"So sometimes people say, 'Why are you going back to this city?' Well, that is the reason, we don't fit in a lot of places," Devine said.
Preliminary information from RIMS was that there were approximately 5,000 registered attendees at RIMS this year in Boston. There were also approximately 4,000 exhibitor personnel at the conference, according to Debbie Girard, a communications manager for the trade group.
May 4, 2010
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