This past June 23-24, 2021 ALAFAVE implemented for the first time their annual congress virtually. 147 people participated representing 22 countries and holding a total of 470 business meetings.
Pedro Jose Pacheco, one of ALAFAVE’s board of Directors said: “We are thrilled with the results obtained, we were uncertain on how the members were going to respond given that it was a virtual congress; but we have received tons of positive comments and the numbers have surpassed our expectations.” He emphasizes on the success ALAFAVE has achieved despite the difficulties generated by the pandemic. The Association innovated by bringing this virtual business opportunity to its members and ease the logistics of traveling and provide a date that worked for everyone. Some of the presentations were: The global market of waxes, the paraffin global market and funnel marketing, which provided valuable information to empower decision making for our members’ business by generating strategic concepts.
A Virtual Expo was designed so that suppliers and candle manufacturers had private business meetings which generated numerous appointments and interactions in parallel with other congress activities. Unquestionably, the cherry of the cake were our three sessions titled: “Ask Dr. Vela” in which expert panelist responded on real time questions from the participants in regards raw materials, wax blends, fragrances, wicks, and technologies.
Pedro Pacheco enthusiastically mentions that the highlight of the ALAFAVE Virtual Congress was to have had the opportunity to extend the experience to the companies’ associates: “This congress had an added value by giving candle manufacturers the opportunity to include their teams during the technical sessions. Not only did they receive technical information and participated directly in the discussions with the suppliers; but also created a positive internal brainstorming as the activities progressed.
What is the Candle manufacturer’s opinion?
Andrea Caminos, founder of Arome+Relax located in Asuncion, Paraguay, classified all the activities presented at the Virtual Congress as “excellent” being this her second time participating at an ALAFAVE event. “I loved that I had access to a great amount of technical discussions, particularly those of fragrance and vegetable waxes. In addition, I was able to meet with the suppliers I was interested on and even with some that were new to me; all of these included with a low investment.” The ALAFAVE events are important for this Paraguayan candle manufacturer with 8 years of experience in the candle business. The congress offers a great opportunity to learn more on manufacturing scented candles and as a platform to know suppliers that provide quality raw materials to improve their product. She mentioned that despite the great experience; she missed the in-person interaction with her colleagues from other countries. Andrea emphasized how the Dr. Vela sessions were on point: “Dr. Vela helped me a lot, but if it would’ve been in person, I’m sure I would’ve had a lot more questions,” says Andrea in between giggles.
Mirla Salon says she is very grateful for the opportunity to have participated in such a great event. She is the Production Lead for decorative candles at Cera Artistica, a Venezuelan candle manufacturer. She said: “We were very excited when we heard that the whole team would be able to participate at the ALAFAVE Congress, we know this is an important international event. People think that making candles is very easy, but making a real good candle requires a lot of technical knowledge and testing. Having listened to all the presentations was essential as I’m now leading new projects for our decorative line.”
What about the suppliers?
Riccardo Rota, General Manager for OMP, Italian Machinery Manufacturer says the Virtual Congress was a “complete
success.” He values the great level of organization and ALAFAVE’s intention to gather their members again.
“We are living difficult times and it is important to keep the relationships between suppliers and candle manufacturers. Even though I prefer the in-person reunions, I believe it was a great idea to have the virtual event. It was nice to see the ALAFAVE family after a long time.” Ricardo agrees that the best part of the congress was the Dr. Vela sessions and being able to provide immediate responses to the live questions from the participants: “as suppliers, it is our duty to always assist the candle manufactures to improve their techniques and productions processes, even if this may imply changing the workflow and investments.” Ricardo mentions that even though the industry tends to be conservative; the candle manufacturers have started introducing progressive changes in their companies, and he has seen an increased interest by the manufacturers to automatize their production and packaging.
Omar Avalos, a wax and paraffin supplier representative from AAK considers that the event achieved their main objective by reaching out and brining new candle manufacturers onboard. He applauds the great advertising achieved through the different social media channels. “it was excellent to see new companies and being able to re-connect with existing candle manufacturers that had not participated on our latest events. In addition, the activities were well managed and organized.”
We are still unable to compare the virtual interaction vs in person. Despite of what we’ve lived through the pandemic this event helped achieve a sense of “being in family”. “the human interaction that I experienced, the technical-commercial content offered and the organization along with all the visuals have positioned this event as one of the best virtual congresses I’ve attended.” Omar suggested having this type of event every 6 months by keeping the same technical profile and the spaces for one-on-one interactions. “in my opinion, and from what I’ve heard from some customers, Dr. Vela and the presentations were interesting because they captivated the interest of the participants. I’d love more activities like this one!” Isabel Muench, Executive Director of ALAFAVE mentioned: “we are aware of the great interest that the Dr. Vela sessions awakened, and we are delighted that they were valuable for everyone. We are already planning some new surprises for our members.”
The Congress Numbers
Candle Manufacturers: 40
Countries with most participation:
-United States (28)
Business meetings achieved: 472
Average participation per activity: 70 participants