By the time Janet Woloszyk had returned from the Society of American Florists’ annual convention she had already taken advice she’d gleaned from education sessions to make improvements to her Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania flower shop’s website.
Stephanie Navas, of Flowers on Broadway in Rocky Point, New York, has also put inspiration from convention into action. The session about Instagram reels gave her the push to ask an employee to start posting to the shop’s Instagram and Tik Tok accounts, and the design session inspired her to dress up her offerings of house plants with wired accents.
SAF Orlando 2021 drew 375 people — including 107 first-time attendees — from 39 states and five countries for two days of networking, educational sessions and stunning floral displays. Attendees said through interviews and in a post-convention survey that they left inspired and more knowledgeable and equipped to handle challenges in the industry.
“You come out of the conference so energized with all the knowledge you gain, friendships you make and business contacts you start,” Navas says.
The convention, held in September at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort in Orlando, Florida, also featured the Outstanding Varieties Competition with its 146 entrants; the Supplier Expo with 40 vendors; the 52nd annual Sylvia Cup Design Competition with 12 competitors; six networking events and three experience zones.
Attendees who completed SAF’s post-convention survey ranked economist Charlie Hall’s keynote presentation, “Searching for the End of Uncertainty,” and Google’s Nicolas Darveau-Garneau’s keynote, “Grow your Business with Machine Learning Advertising,” as their favorite sessions. (The slideshow from Hall’s keynote and other sessions are available online.)
In addition to education, attendees said that the networking opportunities were an important reason for going to the convention. Nearly 60 percent survey respondents said that making business connections was one of the top three reasons for attending. And, more than 75 percent of attendees reported that they’d made new connections with suppliers and anticipated doing business with those companies in the future.
That was true for David Boulton, AAF, PFCI, owner of Flowers By George in Arlington, Washington. He now has a weekly standing order for roses thanks to a connection he made at the convention’s Supplier Expo, he says. He also appreciated the opportunity to talk in-person with suppliers about current supply chain issues, which helped ease his fears as the holiday season draws near.
More than 90 percent of the survey respondents said they were very likely or likely to attend the convention next year (details about next year’s convention will be announced in the coming months).
Brenda Sterk, business analyst and production supervisor at Eastern Floral in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is among those who would like to attend annually. SAF Orlando 2021 was her first SAF convention. She came feeling burned out, but left re-energized and with a sense of camaraderie.
“You feel like, ‘What’s wrong with our business?’” she says. The convention helped her realize that the issues her business is facing aren’t unique to the shop. “The entire industry is feeling the same thing right now. We are all in the same boat.”
To see more pictures from SAF Orlando 2021 visit SAF’s Flickr page.
Amanda Jedlinsky is managing editor of SAF Now.