One of our very first blog posts mused about the usefulness of trade shows as places for HIT vendors to invest precious marketing and sales resources. As Mark and I walked about the exhibit floor at the 2010 COACH eHealth conference in Vancouver, we asked vendors why they chose to exhibit at the conference and whether they were getting a good return on their investment. While we are the first to admit that our poll was far from scientific, there were a few general themes that emerged from our conversations:
- Traffic through the exhibit area was quite light. We noted a number vendor representatives catching up on email or other paperwork during what seemed to be frequent lulls in action.
- Many vendors expressed concern that their clients will wonder if they having financial difficulties if they didn’t have a booth. These vendors felt that exhibiting at the conference was a cost of doing in business in Canada.
- Some vendors felt that it was an expression of good corporate citizenship to support the conference by exhibiting.
- A number of vendors indicating that they were cutting back by having small booths.
Not all vendors offered a negative or neutral view. Several vendors were delighted with the quality and number of leads. Others stated they aggressively contacted their clients and prospective clients prior to the show and arranged meetings at their booth.
Based on what I heard, I don’t think that COACH is any imminent danger of losing significant revenues from lack of vendor interest in exhibiting at the annual eHealth conference. However, I do think that they are missing an opportunity to increase revenues and offer greater value to both the vendors and the attendees by making the trade show a more integral part of the overall conference. I have some thoughts on the matter and I am prepared to participate in the organizing committee for next year’s conference.