Show opens: Smaller, but still strategic

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

OCCC – To no one’s surprise, the atmosphere on the first day of  Medtrade 2013 was reserved. Still, show organizers remain optimistic.

“We expected attendance to be down, but it’s better than what we expected,” said Kevin Gaffney, group show director for Medtrade. “I think people understand where the industry is.”

This year’s show features more than 200 educational sessions and 560 exhibitors.

Floor traffic was heaviest at booths where the focus was on collecting every dollar. Exhibitor HME Recovery, which has developed software to recover equipment after a patient dies, is making its national launch at the show.

“This is where you come,” said Paul Helmick, founder. “We’re in the back of the bus on the floor but it’s been great, great traffic.”

Over at long-time exhibitor Nova Ortho-Med’s booth, Sue Chen was also happy with traffic, but she questions the value of having two shows in this day and age.

“Why don’t we do one big show and make it amazing?” said Chen, president. “I think the climate is changing, but I feel good about it.”

Most of the show’s attendees seemed to be looking for unique products that will set them apart from their competitors. They say Medtrade is still the best place to do that.

“You can’t buy stuff out of a catalog,” said Brent Bradshaw, president of Durable Medical Equipment Inc., in Austin, Texas. “This is my once-a-year thing.”

One thing was clear among attendees: With an industry reeling from competitive bidding and other changes, the new venue wasn’t necessarily welcome.

“It’s not Atlanta,” said Charles Goldberg, president of Sleep Restfully. “But, it’s still early in the show.”

Medtrade returns to Atlanta next October and, based on attendee feedback, may stay there for the foreseeable future, Gaffney said.