Keynote speaker Dave Ridley, retired VP, Southwest Airlines.

SAN ANTONIO—An attendance of at least 3,800 set a new record at The Exchange, the annual member meeting held here last week by Vision Source, North America’s largest independent optometric alliance, which conducted a series of general and specialty sessions plus special events at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center here, marking the organization’s 25th anniversary this year.

Doctor members, optical staff and vendors were on hand for the meeting which boasted over 514,000 square feet of exhibition space and nearly 200 exhibitors, which enabled Vision Source members and staff to have access to the latest technology and the ability to test the newest products. In addition, Vision Source members had the ability to earn up to nine hours of complimentary CE courses for both optometrists and optical staff.

The 2016 Exchange was kicked off by its sold out opening night celebration with an exciting performance by the hometown Texas band ZZ Top at the state-of-the-art Tobin Center. Vision Source members also heard three dynamic keynotes throughout the Exchange. Former Southwest Airlines executive Dave Ridley offered words of advice on building, nurturing and sustaining legendary customer service that leads to customer retention. Derrick Artis, OD, executive vice president of operations, moderated a discussion between legendary coaches Bob Knight and Lou Holtz called "Lessons on Leadership." Members were also entertained by Adam Trent, "The Futurist" star of the Broadway hit show ‘The Illusionists’ and the number one selling magic show in the world.

Stated Vision Source founder, Glenn Ellisor, OD, “The team here is to be congratulated. I believe this is the most engaging meeting in the industry.”

ZZ Top playing the opening night concert at the Vision Source 2016 Exchange.

Added Jim Greenwood, Vision Source CEO, “We have an organization built to help independent ODs. In today’s changing environment, small business ODs are facing more and more regulatory challenges and there are other new business competitors creating change every day. Our mission is aligned with Essilor’s mission—we can leverage capital, intelligence and resources to attack these issues.”

Greenwood spoke of the opportunity to significantly increase and grow Vision Source’s locations as well as vastly expand the number of integrated health systems “excited to work with Vision Source as a reference source for other health care pathologies,” he said, noting, “We are emphasizing ‘fee for value’ versus ‘fee for service.’”

During the 2016 Exchange, attendees were introduced to Vision Source Insight, an exclusive, interactive, innovative, online community of Vision Source. This new Vision Source online community will promote enhanced productivity, practice growth and collaboration among colleagues.

The Vision Source Social Media Team will provide free one-on-one consultations and digital reputation reports for every Vision Source member as a part of their membership, offering member consultations, monthly webinars and online training opportunities that will highlight best practices, patient retention and how to gain new patients via social media. “We are excited to offer Vision Source members an exclusive destination that will enhance the Vision Source member experience while educating members on industry trends and best practices in marketing,” said Bryan D. Pinciaro, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Vision Source. “Insight is the new digital heart of Vision Source.”

Boasting over 2,400 registered practices nationwide, The Optical Dream initiative returns in 2016 and was a featured exhibit at The Exchange. This exclusive Vision Source program provides members with free online edutainment training and incentives for optical staff. The Optical Dream teaches proven techniques to increase patient satisfaction and optical revenue.

“We are proud to come together in such large numbers to reflect upon the passion and dedication that our members have demonstrated over 25 years,” said Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of Vision Source. “This is a time to celebrate our accomplishments while preparing members for a prosperous future. San Antonio serves as the perfect backdrop for our 25th year. We are proud to offer an exclusive opportunity to our members and their staffs to investigate industry trends, discuss integrated health care opportunities and network with fellow independent optometrists. Without the support of Vision Source members and our vendors, none of this would be possible. We truly appreciate everyone’s dedication and willingness to make each Exchange better than the last.”

Founded in 1991, Vision Source consists of over 4,000 members.