This year, the Association of Professional Piercers returned to Bally’s for their 18th Annual Conference and Exposition. For me, Conference has always been an interesting way to observe growth and change in our industry, so very much can happen in just one year. The past few have been pretty amazing thanks to rapidly expanding technology—mainly social media—which seemingly overflows into every aspect of the piercing community.
Social media is bringing us together now more than ever, and is helping to inspire a surge of new attendees. Our ability to promote safe piercing and the benefits of attending Conference, both individually and as an organization, has been directly impacted by the increasingly broad reach of online networking. As a result, we welcomed an impressive 285 first timers this year, bringing the grand total of registrants to 950. On top of that, the increased online discussion about the importance of booking in the APP room block enabled us to oversell our room block by an unprecedented fifty percent!
One look at this year’s curriculum, and you can see that studios have been experiencing growth as well. The demand for business-oriented classes was high, and offerings such as “Corporate Branding,” “Photography Tips for Industry Pros,” “Going Paperless,” “Marketing and Social Media,” “Studio Aesthetics,” and “Gold & Diamonds: Knowledge, Sales, and Custom Design,” had attendees inspired and buzzing with new ideas.
The ever-popular workshops have had continued success as well, with four distinct classes (“Preventing Cross Contamination in the Sterilization and Piercing Room,” “Surface Piercing,” “Minimizing Tools: An Intro to Toolless Piercing,” and “Tools Are Not the Devil”) filling twenty-one time slots throughout the week.
The wide variety of core classes, such as “Steel and Titanium” and “Aftercare,” continued in the circulation as well. Added that together with the roundtable discussions (not including “First Aid and CPR”) that brought us up to 110.5 hours of class time this year, presented to us by 52 instructors and facilitators.
This year, fifty fantastic volunteers teamed up with Caitlin and the Conference Committee to bring all of these classes and instructors together and make the magic happen. Return attendees likely noticed that the Sunday evening registration process was easier than ever, thanks to the hard work and fine tuning on the part of these folks. They also brought us a more efficient way of checking into classes: Paper tickets have been replaced with a barcode that a volunteer scans upon each student’s to the classrooms. As our attendance numbers continue to rise, the ability of the Conference staff and volunteers to grow and change to accommodate us has been appreciated greatly.
This year’s banquet was yet another sign of our industry’s growth. A fashion show, featuring cutting-edge body jewelry design, was a reflection of an industry rushing to keep up with our fashion-forward clientele. (You may have seen photos: if not, check out social media sites using the hashtag #app2013.)
When talking to Conference veterans and newcomers alike, I got the distinct impression that people were extremely happy with their experiences this year. The ability to welcome and accommodate so many new faces while still keeping “repeat offenders” on their toes with new ideas is something that, in my opinion, the APP has had great success with in 2013. It seems that things are looking pretty bright for the piercing industry, and I for one can’t wait to return to Bally’s next June 8 – 14 (2014) to see how much more we’ve all accomplished in just twelve months time.