This post is written by Cathy Breden, CAE, CMP, Executive Director, Center for Exhibition Industry Research
I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the Healthcare Convention & Exhibitors (HCEA) annual meeting in Austin this week. In addition to presenting a short session on the show floor, “Align Your Exhibit Face-to-Face Interactions with What Attendees Value Most,” I co-presented a session with HCEA’s Executive Director Frank Skinner.
It was an interesting opportunity to share the importance of the CEIR Index and, more importantly, to compare and contrast the findings of the CEIR Index for the Health Care Sector to HCEA’s findings. HCEA reports that Professional Attendance for the top 50 health care shows is nearly back to pre-recession levels, down just .01% from 2007.
HCEA’s exhibit hall trends for number of exhibits and NSF of exhibitions with more than 4,000 total attendance is up .52% in NSF and 27% in number of exhibits. (Figure 1)
Exhibit Hall Trends in Exhibits and NSF (Figure 1)
For smaller events (those with less than 2,000 total attendees), anecdotally there does appear to be a trend toward table tops rather than exhibit booths. These are the smaller, more regional meetings that are conducted throughout a year.
When HCEA asked if Health Care exhibitors anticipated changing the number of exhibitions they will participate in 2014, 69% indicated they would exhibit at about the same number. (Figure 2)
In 2014, do you anticipate that your company will exhibit:
Compared to the results of the 2012 CEIR Index, Attendance for the sector increased at a CAGR of 0.6% from 2000 to 2012, and in 2012 attendance increased 1.2%, and it is projected to grow 1.0% in 2013 and gain speed in 2014 and 2015. Although not comparing apples to apples, it is interesting that 69% of HCEA’s exhibitors say they would exhibit at the same number of exhibitions in 2014. The CEIR Index for Exhibitors and NSF are both projected to grow slowly in 2013 and 2014. (Figure 3)
CEIR Index for the MD Sector, 2009 = 100 (Figure 3)
I enjoyed the dialogue with Frank and the audience, and learning about the unique challenges of shows in the Health Care Sector, particularly shows with physicians in attendance, face with regulations that are imposed on them and the upcoming implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
In the end, we all agreed on the need to nurture the ecosystem of Health Care exhibitions by collaborating with organizers, exhibitors and contractors to create a compelling experience with an eye on cost control and value. Clearly, the Health Care sector is ahead of the curve in the trend of bringing education onto the show floor, creating more value for both attendees and exhibitors.