Herbert Stone

Planning for New Orleans
It is difficult to imagine, but some of us are already planning next year’s IFT Annual Meeting + FOOD EXPO®! We have barely completed the followup of the Las Vegas meeting—which was one of IFT’s best-ever meetings—and here we are already preparing for New Orleans.

Since the Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, we have received numerous comments and suggestions—wise, foolish, and in the middle—that we are taking into consideration as we proceed with planning for the Annual Meeting in New Orleans next July.

As those of you who were there know, this year’s meeting in Las Vegas featured several major changes from previous events. We shortened the Opening Session by recognizing the Achievement Award winners and newly elected Fellows as a group rather than individually with slide presentations, and instead honored them at a new President’s Awards Banquet on a subsequent evening. The result was a streamlined Opening Session and an enjoyable awards banquet providing increased attention to the achievements of the honorees.

When these changes were first announced, we received a number of e-mail messages from longstanding members making dire predictions about the effect of these changes (remember, Mars Attacks was filmed in Las Vegas). Some of these messages were unsettling, and many were less than collegial. However, many of the volunteer leadership were very positive about the changes and encouraged us to proceed, which we did. Based on comments from the attendees, the Opening Session and Awards Banquet were well received.

We have also conducted several surveys, including one among exhibitors and another among selected members, including the Executive Committee, Councilors, and others, to gauge reactions to several of the key activities at the Annual Meeting, such as the Opening Session, the President’s Awards Banquet, and the Fellows Reception. As a result, we have decided, based on input from the volunteer leaders and the honorees, to continue to honor the award winners and Fellows during the Opening Session next year, as we did this year, but not have an awards banquet—the honorees indicated that they preferred to be honored at the Opening Session.

Other changes are planned, as well. The schedule for the initial day—Saturday—will be changed so that certain committees will meet in the morning, followed by Council caucus lunches, then the Council meeting in the afternoon. On Saturday evening, the Opening Session will include my “State of the Institute” address, passing of the gavel to the next President, and recognition of award winners and Fellows. Thus the Opening Session will focus exclusively on IFT and the honorees. During the rest of the week, we’ll address broad industry issues and trends in a variety of general sessions, one of which will include the keynote address.

What does all this mean ? First, we are continuing to explore ways of making the IFT Annual Meeting + Food Expo a more rewarding experience. Second, we are creating a framework that will serve us well when all the various committees fill in the spaces with specific programs. Third, the process will focus on positive activities and attitudes and not be tied to the past. And, fourth, the clock is ticking.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the work of the IFT staff. They are responsible not only for implementing the Annual Meeting + Food Expo, but also for ensuring that it is a success. I cannot emphasize enough the time and effort expended by the staff in investigating all sorts of ways to make the event more interesting and exciting for the members, and with their help and your input, we’ll continue to improve this most important IFT event of the year.

I’m very excited about our process of continual improvement.

IFT President, 2004–05
President, Tragon Corp.
Redwood City, Calif.
[email protected]