Josh Haynie, national sales manager with Freeman's Washington National Office, told a crowd at the ASAE and The Center for Association Leadership's Annual Conference, held in Toronto in August, that the economic downturn, coupled with all the new pharma codes and regulations, will make medical shows the least likely of all markets to return to the heydays they enjoyed in 2005 any time soon. Exhibitors are going to continue to reduce booth size, he said. But, he added, “I'm not Decorator Little running around saying, ‘The sky is falling! The sky is falling!’” Educational theaters are becoming more popular and could go a long way toward offsetting the revenue hit from reduced booth space.

“You have to understand that you [the expo organizer] only get 20 cents on every dollar [exhibitors] spend on their exhibits,” he said. But with educational theaters, which don't require all the shipping, drayage, and other exhibition costs a typical booth entails, you get pretty much all the money exhibitors spend on it, without incurring any extra costs other than AV, lighting, signage, and other general overhead costs. “Pharma companies love them because whatever they're spending with you [on the theater] is their total cost, and they still get leads if you scan everyone who attends.” While you may get the same $5,000 for a booth or a theater, Haynie further clarified, that booth actually could cost three times as much to the exhibitor.

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