The Healthcare Information Management Systems Society recently became the first association to lease year-round exhibit space at the Nashville Medical Trade Center—a permanent exhibition space being built in Nashville.

The agreement provides HIMSS with more than 25,000 square feet of exhibition space in the NMTC, which is scheduled to open in 2013 with 1.5 million square feet of permanent exhibit space and 600 exhibitor showrooms. The NMTC will also have 150,000 square feet of meeting and exhibition space for temporary exhibits and conferences. The exhibit space could be used for traditional trade shows as well as meetings and conferences. HIMSS also struck a deal to become the exclusive provider of technology-related medical education at the facility.

HIMSS plans to make the NMTC the permanent home of its Inoperability Showcase, a pavilion the organization brings to all its major trade shows throughout the year, including its annual meeting, as well as annual events in Europe and Asia. The Inoperability Showcase is a hands-on interactive display HIMSS uses to show customers how different healthcare products connect and are integrated. More than 70 clinical information systems were presented in the most recent temporary 2010 Interoperability Showcase.

How it works: HIMSS pays a fee to NMTC to lease the space, then HIMSS sells space to exhibitors for a contracted period of time, just as it would for a showcase at one of its trade shows. The Inoperability Showcase typically takes up about 25,000 square feet of exhibit space, so the showcase at NMTC will be at least that big, said Stephen Lieber, president and chief executive officer at the Chicago-based association. There is an opportunity to contract more space if necessary.

HIMSS will continue to bring its Inoperability Showcase to its meetings. “This is a complementary extension of our trade show brand—not competitive to it. It’s not a change in strategic direction,” said Lieber, adding that the showcase is a cornerstone of HIMSS’ exhibition. The NMTC display will give HIMSS a year-round presence, and the opportunity to reach new markets, he says.

Increasing Visibility, Revenues
Because the showcase is a way to show processes and procedures using various pieces of equipment, HIMSS plans to capture the demonstrations on video and offer it to other associations and groups to show at their meetings. While the details would need to be worked out, Lieber envisions a scenario where HIMSS could send demonstrations to an association via the Internet to present at meetings anywhere in the country. Or, if a medical group was meeting in Nashville and wanted to schedule visits to the showcase while they were in town, they could. He believes it will complement medical trade shows coming to Nashville.

The partnership with NMTC serves two purposes for HIMSS, said Lieber. It serves the cause of HIMSS’ mission—improving healthcare through technology—and it will provide the association with additional revenue opportunities.

While companies displaying their own products will lease most of the other 600 spaces in the NMTC, HIMSS will fill a unique niche with its Inoperability Showcase because it can show customers how various products from various companies work together, Lieber says. It also provides smaller companies that can’t afford to lease an entire showroom an opportunity to have a presence in the facility. Lieber doesn’t know of other associations that have purchased space at any of the other permanent trade marts across the country.

The NMTC will be built at the site of the current Nashville Convention Center. Construction is scheduled to start this fall and be completed in 2013. The facility will be six stories high, and while construction takes place, the convention center will remain open with a full calendar of events, says Cole Daugherty, vice president, marketing communications, Market Center Management Company, Dallas—the company that manages NMTC.

Also starting this fall is the construction of a new convention center in Nashville, the Music City Center, which will be built just a few blocks away from NMTC. It is also scheduled to open in 2013.

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