Business Ops

Industry Tradeshows Are Effective & Efficient Rallying Points

Tradeshows are among the most valuable resources within any industry. They provide an opportunity to come together with our peers, gauge how we are doing in regards to our competition, and stay up to date on the latest news and innovations. In an industry like ours that faces significant challenges and steady change, tradeshows become critical gathering points where important lessons are learned and efforts to effect change are put into motion.

Our industry is lucky to have an ample selection of tradeshows, expositions and symposiums available to meet the needs of all stakeholders. Whether you are a consumer, provider, therapist or manufacturer, there are a few key things that are important to consider in order to get the most out of your tradeshow experience.

Attendance Is Built Through Understanding

The tradeshows that bring more exhibitors and people to their show floors provide the best opportunity to network, stay informed and reach out to more vested parties. Look for shows that continue to evolve along with the industry and that target your interests.

Last year’s Medtrade show was a strong example of the type of venue that understands the industry it serves and what it takes to maintain and grow attendance. At the show there was a very strong feeling of unity. The event has become much more encompassing for all stakeholders due in large part to their willingness to reach out to their attendees and ask how they can improve. Over the past two years, Medtrade has done very well in reshaping itself beyond a simple product exposition to become a rallying point for all industry stakeholders, and it has been refl ected in attendance numbers.

The International Seating Symposium (ISS) is another fine example of a symposium that understands the industry and what outcomes its attendees want.

ISS strives to provide its attendees with the resources and exceptional educational opportunities they require. The content of the vast continuing education units (CEU) courses offered allows ATPs and clinicians to obtain additional knowledge and information that can be put to use during daily interaction with their clients.

ISS is a perfect mix of the latest clinical applications and product advancements to enhance a client’s quality of functional living. They do an exceptional job of keeping their finger on the pulse of what is required to make a clinically based show successful.

The Abilities Expos have also changed with the climate and lessons they’ve learned. They have really focused their energy on delivering exceptional annual shows at the best-attended locations.

With consumers taking an increasingly active role in choosing the right product for their needs and advocacy efforts growing in importance, the Abilities Expos have brought in not only a wider selection of manufacturers and providers, but have increased opportunities to provide a forum for people attending the shows.

Shows Offering More Effective Features

While these three shows are not the only important venues for the industry, they do present excellent and diverse examples of what show coordinators are doing to make the show-going experience more effective for attendees. Building attendance is not an easy task given the economic challenges the industry faces, so shows are adapting to offer higher-quality content in a more efficient manner.

Medtrade, for example, over the past two years has assembled a panel of industry experts to provide feedback on their efforts. This has led to more meaningful educational opportunities, a larger number of open panel discussions on industry affairs, and the inclusion of consumers via an open Consumer Day. Medtrade management has made it easier and more efficient for a great variety of exhibitors to demonstrate their products and services by consolidating the show floor. Areas like the NRRTS Rehab Pavilion allow multiple vendors to exhibit with moderate cost and maximum efficiency.

Likewise, ISS has refined the resources they offer to fit the changing and challenging climate of complex rehab accreditation and to keep pace with emergent technologies. By bringing in the world’s most respected rehabilitation experts to address attendees and presenting manufacturers with an opportunity to reach a broader audience of clinicians, ISS has developed into the premier venue to exchange ideas and continue the advancement of complex rehab treatment strategies and product development.

The Abilities Expos offer a unique opportunity for all stakeholders to gather in a very dynamic environment. Beyond simple service and product dimensions, the Abilities Expos have expanded to include comprehensive workshops and world-class events showcasing the talents and interests of some of the world’s most prominent members of the disability community.

Attend with Return-on-Investment in Mind

By offering high-quality content, appealing attractions and valuable interaction, industry tradeshows have become a more valuable resource than ever before. However, you must take a proactive approach to your attendance to ensure you maximize your ROI.

You have to formulate a plan to actively attend a tradeshow to get the most out of your experience:

  • Review the tradeshow Web sites and see what workshops, forums and educational opportunities will best meet your needs — and pre-register, if necessary.
  • Review what vendors will be in attendance and plan your day on the show floor accordingly.
  • If you need to speak with a representative from an exhibiting company at length and have a contact within the organization, try to plan out a meeting time. This can go a long way in setting a productive meeting on the show floor.
  • Above all, take advantage of the full offerings of the tradeshow you are planning on attending. If you do not plan ahead to attend the events and visit the vendors most important to you, opportunities may be left on the show floor.

If you are making the investment to travel to the show and stay for the duration, you will only see an ROI if you plan to “actively attend.”

Again, there are many venues to explore beyond the examples given here. Seek out opportunities to attend events that offer you and your company strong ROI.

Tradeshows serve a wide variety of purposes, and in an industry facing challenges, they are more important than ever. When all stakeholders get together on one show floor, the potential for what can be accomplished is great. And with tradeshows adapting to meet the needs of their attendees, that potential is growing exponentially.

This article originally appeared in the February 2011 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Kirsten DeLay is the chair of Medtrade’s Blue Ribbon Task Force and the executive VP of sales management & operational planning for Pride Mobility Products Corp., Exeter, Pa. Kirsten can be reached via e-mail at kdelay@pridemobility. com or by calling (800) 800-8586.

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