The American Bakers Association (ABA) has a message for all convention veterans out there: Things are going to be different this year. New events are coming and changes to familiar programming are planned, including longer networking breaks, more time for executive roundtables and business sessions as well as changes to social activities.
“One of the biggest changes is we’ve moved the schedule around and we’ve repurposed things to different days; we’ve shortened some and lengthened others,” said Samantha Moore, senior director, meetings and education for ABA. “The mornings aren’t as early, and the nights aren’t as late. It gives everyone more time to be their best.”
Attendees who are new to the 2023 Convention, which will be March 26-29 in Amelia Island, Fla., have several opportunities to make meaningful connections with others in the industry, starting with the New Attendee and NextGen Baker Brunch on Sunday.
“This is an opportunity for the new attendees to meet the ABA board of directors,” said Christina Donnelly, director, industry relations and strategic initiatives for ABA. “We have ambassadors for our new attendees to get a chance to connect with longtime convention participants, ask them questions, learn more about the ABA Convention and make a plan to navigate the following days.”
Another new networking opportunity is Dine Around Dinners on Tuesday night that will pair six attendees who are new to one another. The ABA staff will put the group together and make a dinner reservation at a local restaurant.
“That is our way of creating that smaller, more intimate environment where you can make those relationships,” Ms. Moore said. “We’re really excited about that. It will get you off property as well, so you can see a little bit of the area.”
Networking breaks have been expanded, and networking breakfasts have been added every day.
Social activities are now sprinkled throughout the event rather than being concentrated in one day. In addition to the Bakers Give Back event and golf and tennis opportunities, a cornhole tournament has been added.
More hours of business sessions have been added to the programming, and Executive Roundtables — in which attendees can talk through issues and share insights with one another — have been doubled. A second day has been added for each Executive Roundtable topic to provide attendees the opportunity to attend more than one.
The keynote speakers at the convention will be George Blankenship, former executive of Tesla Motors, Apple and GAP, and Lt. Col. Scott Mann, retired US Army Green Beret, who led the rescue of more than 1,000 Afghans who served as allies of US troops serving in Afghanistan.
The Allied Trades of the Baking Industry will be celebrating its centennial — make that 103 years — at a Monday night gala, after the event was originally delayed in 2020 due to COVID-19.
“The agenda is planned to maximize benefits for all attendees,” said Cordia Harrington, ABA chair and chief executive officer at Crown Bakeries. “The speakers and programs are outstanding. This will be a fantastic meeting.”
For the full list of speakers, activities and registration information, go to americanbakers.org/convention.