ATRA’s first-ever Virtual Powertrain Expo took place November 11 – 14, and I have to say, it was a great success! 350 attendees, across 26 different countries converged online to participate in 58 hours of Pre-Recorded sessions, Live Q&As and Live Presentations, both Technical and Management – the most of any Powertrain Expo! There was also an Exhibitor Marketplace, a one-stop-shop where attendees could browse Products, Demos and Giveaways posted by Exhibitors. Virtual booths – customized by each Exhibitor – were visited a total, whopping, number of 10,168 times by attendees!
But none of that was my favorite part about this year’s Expo. Not even close. Why? Well, here’s a little back story:
Since March I’ve cancelled, rescheduled and cancelled-again about 27 event contracts. And the cherry on top? On August 6 we made the difficult decision to transition our Powertrain Expo to a fully online experience. Difficult, because we knew how many people were looking forward to our show being in Nashville (myself included!). And difficult, because we didn’t know how many attendees would embrace the new virtual format.
But chances are since March, most of us have had to adapt to something new or different. Maybe you’ve started using door delivery apps, video conferenced with your doctor, helped your child log on to their distance learning class, or had to cancel that family vacation. You adapted.
And then to top it off, your favorite training and networking conference, Powertrain Expo, cancelled their live event and switched to Virtual. So what did you do? You adapted. You could have very easily thrown your hands up in the air and said, “I’ll just skip this year, and catch it in 2021”. But you didn’t. You knew that staying ahead of the competition – especially now – was more important than you being a little uncomfortable in front of a computer screen.
So, what was my favorite part? YOU were. All 350 attendees who climbed out of their comfort zones (ok, some crawled, some were pulled), who took a leap of faith and put their trust into ATRA and decided to try something completely new. Attendees who decided they weren’t going to let the disappointment of not meeting face-to-face get in the way of some kick-butt training and new and innovative products.
I had the pleasure of talking with many of you before the show even opened. Some were just simple questions…Will I still be receiving an Expo Kit? (Absolutely!)…Can I watch sessions at a later time if I missed their scheduled time slot? (Yes!)…How long will I have access to the content? (6 months!)… While others needed assistance with locating their login email and finding their way to the Virtual platform. Those were the best. Yes, they were particularly lengthy conversations (usually around 20 or 30 minutes in duration), and frustrations were high. But that didn’t stop you, you were still determined to make it work. I even had many of you apologizing, along with a chuckle or two, for your lack of computer knowledge. I had to stop you right there. You see, there was nothing to apologize for. My response was always “You should be proud of yourself. You’re here, you’re doing it!” And boy, did you!
You uploaded your favorite photo to your Expo profile. You chatted in the Longtimer’s and Women in the Industry Chat Rooms. You participated during all the Live presentations and Q&A sessions – submitting questions, and even taking jabs at your fellow attendees who were also watching at the same time. You gathered your techs around the big screen and made it an event, even if it was from the confines of your shop walls. You visited Exhibitor booths, viewed their demos, clicked their ads and scheduled one-on-one video calls.
You thought the only thing you were going to learn about was the ZF 9HP48, the CVT, or how Joe Rivera and Mike Cargill make a mean cocktail. But you learned so much more than that.
You learned that whether you’re comfortable or not, you’re still capable of growth. And by the way, you’re not the only ones who learned something. ATRA did too. This wasn’t just your first virtual Expo, it was also ours. Your anxieties were our anxieties, your concerns were our concerns. And we knew that our Attendees and Exhibitors deserved our absolute best effort.
So I hope the next time you’re confronted with something that makes you uncomfortable, just remember that time in November of 2020 when we all experienced something pretty darn cool, and we did it together. Because now, we’ll be prepared for whatever 2021 has in store for us and our industry.