New year, new venue, new expectations

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Optimism is riding high at Medtrade Spring despite a prolonged economic recession, ongoing Medicare challenges and lethargic trade show attendance last year.

Kevin Gaffney, Medtrade group show director, expects a resurgence in 2010, driven by a new venue, the Sands Expo & Convention Center, and a show floor that is 7% to 10% larger than last year with more than 300 exhibitors.

"Although it is still early in the process, it appears that attendance will be up slightly from 2009," he said. "Medtrade Spring exhibitors are committed to interacting with customers and show attendees are committed to seeking new product information and ways to reinforce relationships with manufacturers."

With more than 70 sessions, Medtrade Spring organizers are also hoping for strong attendance at the Educational Conference. The pre-show and general seminar schedule will offer an additional 16 sessions from partners such as AAHomecare, VGM, Pride/Quantum, Philips Respironics, Invacare and Sigvaris.

Gaffney elaborated on what's in store for show attendees this year and what Nielsen Expositions is doing to make Medtrade Spring the best it can be.

HME News: In the wake of a Medtrade attendee poll conducted last fall, what changes did respondents say they want and have they been made for the Spring show?

Kevin Gaffney: The focus groups that were conducted at Medtrade 2009 gave us a lot of concrete information on what attendees expect from the events. First of all, we got good news. Nearly all of the participants said the show had met or exceeded their expectations and they would most likely attend again. Certain themes stood out, such as the fact that attendees did not like to leave the expo to return to the educational conference. They prefer to have the conference sessions in the morning and then spend the remainder of the day in the expo. With a couple of exceptions, the conference schedule has been changed to accommodate this request.

HME: The Sands is a new venue this year. What was the rationale for changing venue and what is appealing about the Sands?

Gaffney: We heard from attendees and exhibitors that there was a desire to have a more central location that was conducive to more interaction after show hours. Moving the event to the Sands offered a better opportunity to do that.

HME: This year there are some "Hot Topics" on tap. How does this new feature help create a more up-to-the-minute image for the show?

Gaffney: These slots are still open. We have talked to certain speakers who we know will be able to address the issues come May. As you know, and I have learned, the topics that would be considered for these sessions change at a moment's notice. I can take a stab at guessing what these will be--ending competitive bidding, repealing the 36-month oxygen cap and eliminating the first month purchase option for power wheelchairs--but we will not know for sure until we get closer to the show. I am fairly certain that the sessions will be of the legislative type, though. It is critical that we incorporate this feature into our planning of the show. The issues that fall into this category are of major concern to all of our attendees and exhibitors, and we have the responsibility to provide this kind of information to them.