The fifth edition of the bi-annual European Vending Association (EVA) EurOps conference was recently held in Estoril, Portugal. hosted 110 participants, representing all segments of the industry: around 60 percent were operators, 32 percent were suppliers (ingredient suppliers, machine manufacturers, payment system manufacturers, etc). Also present were some of the main European National Associations and journalists.
With its typically large gathering of Italian vending players, EurOps 5th edition also counted a notable participation from Spanish, and German vending operators. Other nationals participating at the event came from the U.K., Portugal, the Netherlands, Ireland, Bulgaria, Norway, Hungary, Poland, Sweden, Brazil and the U.S.
The conference was inaugurated by an ice-breaking cocktail, sponsored by N&W, on the evening of 14 April. An intensive, full-day conference started the following morning. A
total of 14 speakers, of which 11 were operators, comprised the program, which was sub-divided into four vending operating themes: efficiency, opportunities, finance management and legislative challenges.
Balász Szöllösi, from Trimatic (Hungary), introduced "effective route planning," by chronologically presenting a history of route planning. According to Balász, telemetry will be a predominant feature in the future of vending.
Paulo Carlos, from Vending Portugal (Portugal), explained concepts like defensive and preventive filling. He described different types of management. In his opinion, the best kind of management would be the "smart power" option, which translates into investing more in the "fillers" potential so as to stimulate an entrepreneurial and multi-tasking attitude in the employee.
This presentation was followed by Roberto Franza's, from IVS Italia (Italy). He gave the audience an in-depth explanation as to the workings of his company "tightly orchestrated timing," thanks to high performance computer systems and databases. However, the human factor, underlying the vending industry, is the key factor for success: fillers are
considered to be the "kings of a company."
Carlos Oderiz, from Serventa (Spain), addressed how to increase customer satisfaction without falling short of an efficiently run and profitable business. He shared with the audience the way his company calculates the EBITDA per machine.
To close the first session, Francesc Guëll, from TPC-Netgrup (Spain), talked about the crucial importance of human resources, from the initial interview of a potential employee to their continuous training. He showed the audience how this impacts company earnings and savings.
The second session, on opportunities, started with Giorgia Scattolin, from Scattolin Distribuzione Automatica (Italy), who focused her presentation on the quality of the products. Giorgia Scattolin insisted on the importance of managing consumer expectation.
Roberto Pace, from Gedac Vending (Italy), injected a fresh outlook on the possibilities associated with the technology applied in the vending business. The session was closed by an innovative presentation from Jacek Czauderna from Hello Coffee (Poland). He introduced the audience to his Hello Coffee machine; fully equipped with screens, a shoe shining device, and even audio jokes. Gadgets to attract the attention of potential coffee consumers and, in the end, to provide them with a total sensory experience, whilst introducing a new and lucrative activity for the company, such as extra revenue for advertising on the Hello Coffee screens.
The third session was launched by Javier Arquerons, from Alliance Vending (Spain). He gave a full and detailed presentation on prices in vending, comparing the industry to other retail alternatives. He insisted that vending should compare itself to a medium sized convenient store, thereby adding the extra value service. He concluded by affirming that operators should have more self-confidence when deciding on justified price increases.
A roundtable followed, chaired by Arnaud van Amerongen from Aequator (The Netherlands), with the participation of Jan Marck Vrijlandt from Selecta (Switzerland), Michael Maurer from ASM (Germany) and Brian Tustain from AVS (UK). Some key concepts extracted from the round table were the following: a need to take into account the increase of raw material prices when increasing prices, the importance of maintaining consumer satisfaction and the freedom to speak openly with competitors.
Erwin Wetzel, the EVA's new regulatory affairs manager, presented an overview of the main legislation applying, and that will apply in future, to the vending industry. He described the work of the European Vending Association in Brussels, as defending the
interests of the industry.
The event concluded with a trip along the Targus River, with a view of Lisbon and its surroundings. The "Image of Vending" award was conferred by Arnaud van Amerongen, the EVA's president, and Roger Williams, representing the 12 members of the jury. The winner of the prize was the Rheavendors Group, for its innovative, new interface for Luce X2 touchTV. There was also the "EVA team's special prize" awarded to the project: the "Earth Hour: Adding value to vending" from Alliance Vending.