Digital Projection International (DPI) sure knows how to throw a party. The company, which has already built a reputation for hosting high-energy parties during CEDIA Expo, outdid itself by recently hosting 93 individuals representing 40 different integration companies for a week-long excursion in Costa Rica.
Held at the swanky Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort, the trip treated dealers and their families to zip lining in the rainforest, riding a boat in a crocodile-infested river, golf, ocean kayaking, white water rafting, ATV jungle tours, and hiking in pristine national parks filled with wild monkeys, sloths and iguanas. In the evening, attendees networked at lavish cocktail receptions with local fare for meals and dancing.
Dubbed the “Big Bang & Bash,” the trip also included 27 DPI employees and their families. The trip was the culmination to the company’s sales contest that ran between CEDIA Expo 2011 and the end of January 2012, according to Michael Bridwell, director of marketing. Many dealers brought their families, while others brought co-workers. The final night of the trip, DPI handed out awards to the integrators who sold the most in each region of the country.
Trip Sways Future Purchasing Habits
So why Costa Rica, and does an event like this help DPI with its dealers?
To the first question, DPI president Mike Levi wanted someplace that was an adventure for their dealers. “We launched the contest so quickly that we initially didn’t know where we were going to take people. At first, we thought about a cruise but concluded that was not such an unusual experience. I believe it’s important to go somewhere that is an adventure. That will be burned in your memory … that is an experience. This Los Suenos resort offered just what we needed. Certainly, it cost us a little more than a cruise,” he says.
The event included networking time every night for integrators and DPI staff.
Levi adds that the event harkens back to a simpler time, when buyers and sellers formed personal relationships prior to doing business.
“When I started in the commercial projection business in 1986, if you had a business or personal relationship with a dealer, they did all they could to buy from you. They didn’t go out and sign up with other projector manufacturers. There was a lot of loyalty. That’s tougher to see happen these days because commercial integrators have gotten much more professional in their purchasing habits," Levi says. "In the residential space, integrators are looking to provide an experience for their clients, so the relationship is much more meaningful than a commercial integrator might have with his clients. They also are not about the lowest price. They want to deliver a lifestyle product. I believe integrators want to have the same type of close relationship with their suppliers as they have with their customers."
The swanky Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort was the setting for receptions and networking by the pool and on the beach.
As to the second question, if the reaction from the attending dealers is valid, then the trip will be well worth it for DPI.
Evan Struhl, president of Cutting Edge Systems in Westford, Mass., says, “The event pulls us away from our day-to-day routine and allows us to really get to know the manufacturer beyond just the products. When it comes down to deciding which product will go into our next project, it’s easy for us to gravitate toward the people that we know rather than just a product."
He continues, “An event like this really has more of a family feel. And actually, during the entire event we have spoken very little about business.”
Randy Stearns of Engineered Environments ziplines in the Costa Rica rainforest during the DPI "Big Bang & Bash" event.
“My company is a family. At this event, I got to meet more of the people behind the DP product, which reminds me of our own company," says Jaclyn Schnirring of Audio Automation and Theater in Atlanta. "I got to put faces on a lot of people who I have spoken with on the phone or communicated via email. It makes more of a personal connection, and whenever you have a company with more of a personal connection, you tend to move towards that company when selecting products. I used to have that sort of relationship with some loudspeaker companies and Digital Projection is now the only projector company that I have a similar relationship with."
Tom Alleva, owner of Sound Ideas in Armonk, N.Y., notes, “What starts out as a social event really helps you in business. If you like the people, you want to learn more about the product. Right now, I am more apt to send my guys to DP product training because I’ve met the training people. “
Levi of DPI adds, “An event like this gives us the chance to spend quality time with the integrators who we value as customers and for their opinions. Also, it allows us to create those personal relationships and get a better perspective on what they need. By having a stronger relationship, we become a better supplier… and our bottom line gets better.”
The DPI team and their families acted at the hosts for the event... and had a great time themselves.
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