The Atlanta-based Healthcare Convention and Exhibitors Association this past fall officially came out against healthcare exhibition policies that require exhibitors to pay “sponsorship” fees for activities in their own booths, beyond the cost of the activities themselves. This was in reaction to hearing from members that several healthcare societies were selling a limited number of opportunities for exhibitors to offer cappuccino/espresso and smoothie services from their booths for an additional fee.

HCEA's response was this statement:“HCEA opposes any attempt by a convention organizer to place surcharges, which may be disguised as ‘sponsorships,’ on activities taking place or services being provided within exhibit booth space at healthcare conventions. HCEA believes this sets a dangerous precedent that amounts to double-charging exhibitors for marketing to convention attendees in space they have already purchased for that purpose. HCEA asserts that exhibitors should be allowed to conduct whatever marketing activities they like — within the organizer's rules for an orderly, fair exhibit hall — without those being subject to any additional ‘sponsorship’ surcharge.”

In a press release, HCEA Executive Vice President Eric Allen said, “Charging a sponsorship fee for an activity or service provided by an exhibitor in the exhibit booth violates the entire principle of an exhibit marketing booth…. For the association to add a surcharge to that activity is absolutely indefensible.”