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RENO, Nev.-By all accounts, CUNA’s attempt to give “energy” and sparkle to exhibits at its annual Future Forum conference paid off. “I’d call it a home run,” effused one rather biased CUNA executive heading up exhibit hall operations, Todd Spiczenski, assistant vice president. Many CU participants seemed to agree as they crowded vendor aisles, filled up their plastic shopping bags with pens and assorted novelties while also enjoying the free food and watching what CUNA billed as “extraordinary hands-on” features of the show. “They would never till my dying day get me up on that thing,” remarked one exhibit attendee as she and here husband watched fellow delegates rapelle-with assistance of professionals-a rock climbing wall. The wall was part of CUNA’s approach to “engage” participants and demonstrate teamwork in a more interactive format for the conference. There were indeed many “new” features at the Forum conference, which for years was called the CUNA Symposium but was deemed as needing “a makeover” with more delegate involvement. In some areas of the exhibit hall, it looked the same as past shows. But registrants were given their first clue that something different was amiss starting at the registration area. Even CUNA President Dan Mica made a point of the new approach in his general session speech, asking “now how did you like those greeters at registration?”, a remark that drew applause. Indeed, attendees were taken aback by extra-nice hospitality shown by red-jacketed CUNA staffers who greeted each delegate warmly. “Do you have everything you need and do you have any questions?” Instead of lining up to register, delegates were seated at desks much like in a CU branch and were asked about their itinerary and desires during the conference. “Can I help you with anything?” was a common greeting. In pre-conference promotion, CUNA had also pushed its high-tech Future Branch with 16 specially chosen vendors. Traffic was not always brisk in the special exhibit booth, but delegates seemed satisfied with what they were learning about biometric vaults, ATMs with animated screens or dye packs. “I just like to look around and get a feel for what might be available,” said Connie Capuano, vice president of business development at BMI FCU in Columbus, Ohio. But a sampling of vendors said they were more than happy to be showing their wares in the booth first visited by the CUNA Board of Directors and state League officers during a Monday reception. “Look, I’m glad I could be seen so many CEOs and the top brass of CUNA who have come through here,” said Phillip E. Huff, president of eLynx Ltd, a Cincinnati vendor of document delivery software. One of the biggest attractions-and certainly the longest lines-in the Future Booth was in front of a high tech Diebold ATM giving away $20 to winners who swiped registration cards. Winners also received a $200 discount on next year’s Future Forum in Hawaii, “but you have to come in to the booth and sign in to win the $200,” said a CUNA staffer. One new vendor whose products were contained in a teller cage display in the Future Branch complained “there are six or seven products in there so no one can see ours.” He said he would move his display to the main exhibit area next year, but he also said he was “glad to be selected for Future Branch” considering the exposure his firm received. Many CU directors were among the biggest lookers in Future Branch. “I’d simply like to get a handle on what is being offered on some products like cash dispensers for example,” said Gary Rippie, vice chair of USFCU in Burnsville. “You know as a director it’s important to be educated so you don’t get the wool pulled over your eyes.” Meanwhile, over at the rock climbing exhibit, CU executives-at the estimated rate of a dozen an hour at one point-were putting on climbing gear to undertake the task of mounting the 16-foot circular wall. “Look, I’m a Scoutmaster and have done this before,” said 57-year-old Bob Hadley, president of NEO FCU in Miami, Okla. Why did you volunteer? “I was on the plane here too long.” – [email protected] (See page 26 for continued Forum coverage.)

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