IT’S TIME FOR A NEW EXPO
Imagine 10,000 contractors, customers, and acquisition professionals gathered in one place to obtain the latest training, see and discuss innovative solutions, and actually get to know each other without the requirement of a screen. Long-time GSA marketplace participants don’t have to imagine. They know that such an event was once an annual ritual. They know the value that all types of attendees received from being able to shake hands, have informal discussions, and learn not just in the classroom or on the show floor, but nearly anywhere people were gathered. It is past time for GSA to recreate this event and get everyone together. Indeed, if not for the pandemic, there would already have been at least one such new event. GSA leadership was ready to launch the FAST conference in April 2020 only to have to cancel it as COVID spread. While the training has now turned virtual and become more frequent, there is no showroom floor and no in-person contact. GSA officials, their customers, and industry partners are all worse off without these important elements. Being able to see and touch products inherently provides buyers with a better idea of what it is they’re looking for. Even service solutions can be presented in ways that no 30-minute on-line discussion can provide. Networking helps everyone understand each other better and get a better since of the role they can play in this marketplace. GSA leaders should plan now for an in-person convention in 2025. It takes that long to find a site and develop the logistics. Imagine the new technologies and innovative acquisition methods available then. Industry and government customers should encourage GSA to re-start what was once a vital event. There’s nothing to be gained except for improved communication, improved solutions, and improved acquisition outcomes.