OIA Rendezvous 2011 Draws Record Attendance
The 16th Annual Outdoor Industry Association Rendezvous leadership conference last week drew a record 430 outdoor executives to Portland, OR, who immersed themselves in discussions about the cultural, financial and technological trends shaping the industry and then rolled up their sleeves to tackle much-needed work at five community-based organizations in the annual Rendezvous Timberland Service Projects.
At the opening night dinner, OIA President and CEO Frank Hugelmeyer welcomed attendees stating: “I think we are on the cusp of becoming a dominant lifestyle industry in this country. Collectively, we’ve been outperforming the U.S. economy the last four years by two to five times. We are a very entrepreneurial industry and a very innovative industry that is fighting for more parks and leading the way on building more sustainable businesses and products. That resonates with a lot of people.”
Attendees heard from national experts on topics that often seemed to be unfolding before them in real time. While author and consultant B. Joseph Pine II talked about how companies were using smart phones to close the experience gap between their online and brick-and-mortar channels, for instance, attendees could be seen bending over their iPhones and iPads reading the news that former Apple Co-Founder and CEO Steve Job’s had died. That night, many used a smart phone app specially developed for Rendezvous to participate in the specifically-designed Retail Trail adventure, a kind of scavenger hunt that involved scanning QR codes found at local retail spots including Columbia Sportswear, Icebreaker, Lizard Lounge, KEEN, Patagonia and The Clymb. At the KOA Urban Kampground party and trail’s end, many could be seen tweeting messages from their smart phones and then watching them appear on a monitor displaying a Rendezvous news feed. The event illustrated the potential of “gamification,” which had been mentioned during several sessions earlier in the day as a great way to get connected consumers outdoors.
On Thursday, a day after hearing from youth marketing expert Michael Wood of TRU on how high unemployment was shaping the behavior of 12-29 year olds, an estimated 6,000 Wall Street protesters occupied Pioneer Park, near the hotel, forcing OIA staff to reroute busses carrying volunteers returning from the service project to another park two blocks away. An estimated 200 volunteers participated in the service project this year, which for the first time spread out to five separate locations where volunteers removed invasive species, built trails, fixed fences and made other improvements.
All in all, attendees considered Rendezvous 2011 a very informative, exciting and entertaining three days. In the coming months, OIA WebNews will explore many of the topics discussed at the conference.
Speaker presentations and select video recordings will be available to Rendezvous participants in the next few weeks. OIA members will be able to access these in the Outdoor University library later this year.
Those interested in attending Rendezvous 2012 in Boston, MA, October 3-5, are encouraged to register by December 31 to get the early bird rate.