A poll by healthcare brand communications agency Photosound found that 88 percent of the 43 global healthcare exhibitors surveyed say the trade show floor of the future will be more focused on providing clinical discussion than on promotion and sales. In addition, it says, “81 percent of healthcare exhibitors felt that the staffing of healthcare exhibitors will shift from sales representatives to medical staff, driven by the evolution of exhibits becoming more clinical and scientific and driven by the need to provide HCPs [healthcare providers] with greater value based on scientific information and clinical treatment information.” Fifty-six percent of those surveyed also say budgets for exhibits—and for all other marketing activities—will decrease over the next five years; almost half predict they will be exhibiting at fewer shows; and 91 percent expect more regulation will be coming in the near future.

Jeremy Williams, CEO, Photosound, and a member of the Healthcare Convention and Exhibitors Association’s board of directors, says, “It is felt that greater value can be obtained from an evolved model of healthcare exhibiting. Healthcare exhibitors also said they believe current challenges—budget cuts, the need to prove a return on their healthcare exhibiting spend, and complying with industry regulations—are here to stay, at least for the next five years.

Williams is issuing a challenge to the industry: Discard the current model, which could reduce show participation, reduce floor space commitment, and reduce exhibitors’ ability to develop and provide value to HCPs, he says. “Isn’t a model that lacks value to its key stakeholders a model that is fatally flawed?”

Instead, he suggests that exhibitors rethink the traditional trade show model. For example, why send sales reps to man exhibits when HCPs can access sales reps without leaving their practices? “What are we truly providing HCPs above and beyond what they can get at home?” he asks. He also points out that regulations are increasingly calling for the trade show floor to become a scientific exchange, which doesn’t jibe with the traditional commercial approach. “A key goal in healthcare exhibits is the communication and sharing of clinical and treatment information,” Williams says. “So why are our budgets so heavily skewed away from this toward areas such as structure, drayage, and logistics, which provide little direct value to the HCP?”

For more on the research, titled, “Healthcare Exhibiting: The Pulse of the Industry,” go to Photosound.com.

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