New director: Event offers 'right mix'
While managing trade shows around the world and in a variety of industries, new Medtrade Director Elizabeth Sommerville has stayed true to what she calls the universal formula for trade show success: Aligning your audiences.
"If you match up attendees and exhibitors and make sure they're both getting what they need out of the show, then you have a winning formula," she said.
By that standard, Sommerville feels confident of the continued success of Medtrade and Medtrade Spring. This year's April event will be her first show as director (she replaces Art Ellis) and, coincidentally, the largest in the event's history. As of mid-February, pre-registrations were 85% ahead of last year, and Sommerville expects overall attendance to jump 25%. Additionally, this year's exhibit space has increased 6% to a record 100,000 square feet.
"Even though there's been a substantial amount of consolidation in the industry, the show has managed to grow, which is an amazing thing," she said. "This proves we're providing the right mix."
Sommerville has worked on shows in diverse industries: kitchen and bath; oil; food marketing; and hospitality design. Her positions at Nielson Business Media--formerly VNU Expositions, which manages the Medtrade shows--and other companies have taken her from her native London to Bahrain, Washington, D.C., and now Atlanta. She has attended Medtrade in a support role for the last four years.
Along with a consistently appealing slate of speakers and exhibitors, Sommerville credits the strength of the 27-year-old Medtrade brand as a key factor in the shows' success.
"There's a certain standard expected from a Medtrade show," she said. "We need to make sure we're continuing to deliver a high-quality event."
That's why she's watching the changes occurring in the industry closely and making adjustments to Medtrade's strategies to meet the industry's needs.
"Everyone can't come to the show who really needs the education," said Sommerville. "We were hearing feedback that there was a need for more localized education."
That has led to the creation of Medtrade Conferences on the Road, a series of regional educational events that will address the industry's hot topics, from accreditation to reimbursement. The program, which kicks off this month with seminars in Baltimore and Pittsburgh, will allow a wider audience of HME providers to learn from the industry's leading speakers.
Sommerville is also expanding Medtrade's marketing efforts and educational tracks to draw more pharmacy professionals to the show.
"Pharmacies are becoming an important part of this industry, and we want to provide them with the CEU credits and product information they need," she said.
Other planned changes include an effort to strengthen networking opportunities at Medtrade Spring and a rotation of venues in a similar pattern to Medtrade. In 2008, the show moves to Long Beach, Calif., then back to Las Vegas in 2009 and to a new city--possibly San Diego, Sommerville said--in 2010.
Otherwise, Medtrade Spring attendees won't notice many changes with the arrival of Sommerville as director. "The formula's working," she said, "and we don't want to change what's working."