Vital Signs for Medical Meetings Were Stable in First Six Months of 2014

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR & CAROL ANDREWS, EDITOR-AT-LARGE

Oceanside, CA – Medical meetings held steady during the first half of 2014, reflecting a small increase in one of the three metrics, and a slight downside drift in the other two, compared to their 2013 counterparts, according to Trade Show Executive’s Semi-Annual Report of Medical Shows.

For the shows held in the first half of the year and analyzed in this report, exhibit space totaled 3,492,569 net square feet (nsf). That was 1.6% above the first half of 2013. Exhibitor count, however, declined (0.5)% to 12,246. Attendance was nearly unchanged at 428,512, down (0.2)% from the year before.

Yet that was an improvement compared to the findings in TSE’s September 2013 report. At that time, medical shows held in the first half of 2013 reflected an increase of only 0.8% in nsf, a decline of (1.7)% in exhibitors and a (2.7)% drop in attendance compared to their 2012 editions.

Medical shows held in the first half of 2014 performed better with the help of respectable showings from the fast-growing HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition and other large events. There were 33 medical and healthcare meetings in the first half of 2014 that were included in the TSE Medical Show Report. Of that total, 11 featured exhibit space of 100,000 nsf or more. Five events were ranked on the TSE Gold 100 roster of largest U.S. trade shows. There were also eight shows on the TSE Fastest 50, but even those pacesetters, which had experienced encouraging growth spurts in 2013, were unable to breathe more life into the medical sector as a whole.

Eight of the 33 shows reported increases in all three of the metrics categories, but another six were down across the board.

HIMMS Set the Pace

The doldrums were not apparent at HIMSS, which enjoyed some brisk tailwinds and above-average increases. “We filled the hall, and it was all about aligning the right information with the right people at the right time,” said Executive Vice President Carla Smith.

HIMSS has been enjoying steady growth in recent years as the market for electronic medical records (EMR) and related technologies continues to grow. HIMSS was on both the most-recent Gold 100 and Fastest 50 and will likely be on the roster again, thanks to this year’s statistics.

The show’s exhibit space jumped 8.1% to 535,300 nsf and the number of exhibitors grew 5.5% to 1,211. Attendance led the increases with a 9.1% improvement to 38,000. “We had more physicians, nurses, senior executives, and others who work in a provider setting than ever before,” Smith said.

Exhibitors were encouraged by the increased interest in what they were selling. The hours of the exhibit floor were extended this year to give attendees more time to visit booths without sacrificing educational session hours. “Our attendees and exhibitors asked for more time on the exhibition floor, and so, we increased the hours to provide more time for interaction and networking,” said Elli Riley, director, exhibits and meeting services. “We also added new features to the floor, such as a dedicated area reserved for first-time exhibitors and startup companies.”

Pittcon, another show that made the Gold 100 and Fastest 50, produced 186,700 nsf of exhibit space in Chicago but that was (8.7)% below last year. Attendance and exhibitor numbers were also down significantly from last year when the show was held in the pharmaceutical industry hub of Philadelphia.

Pittcon organizers, however, said that the Chicago venue paid off in other ways. The location gave a boost to the co-located Food Labs Conference, which drew from the region’s major food-processing companies, and to Pittcon’s long-term strategy to build up its presence in the food science sector.

Growth Leaders

*ICE/ENDO 2014, the joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and The Endocrine Society, reported a record 157 exhibitors, up 16.3% from last year. Exhibit space increased 20% to 30,000 nsf; attendance grew 10.9% to an estimated 11,200. On the conference side, the 3,164 abstract submissions marked a 14% increase over 2013 and set a show record.

*The American Physical Therapy Association NEXT Conference & Exposition experienced a healthy jump in exhibit space, but the other metrics were in the red. Floor space grew 19.3% to 21,000 nsf. At the same time the number of exhibitors dwindled (34.6)% to 117. Attendance was off (27.6)% at 1,672. Those who could not make the trip to Charlotte for whatever reason were able to log in to a real-time virtual version of the show.

*SCCM Critical Care Congress returned to the mainland after being held in Puerto Rico last year. The move to San Francisco appeared to appeal to exhibitors, who increased in number by 8.5% and expanded the show’s exhibit area by 16.7% to 24,500 nsf. Attendance, however, slipped (3.6)% to 5,782.

Top Cities

Despite the rather robust Winter, Chicago was, as usual, a busy place for the medical profession in the first half of 2014. The city hosted six Medical Show Report events totaling 871,800 nsf of exhibit space. The calendar included Pittcon and another Gold 100 conference, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting.

Sunny Orlando hosted HIMSS and AONE2014 for a total of 577,000 nsf and second place. New Orleans place third with the 262,000 nsf American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting. New Orleans placed third with the 262,600 nsf American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting.

Coming Up

This Fall marks the 100th edition of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNAAnnual Meeting and Scientific Assembly in Chicago. The event, one of the largest medical conferences in the U.S., will include a centennial party for attendees as well as exhibits profiling the RSNA’s role in advancing the field of radiology. The RSNA was founded just 20 years after the discovery of X-rays.

The American Society of Nephrology added two days of pre-show educational sessions to its November 13-16 Kidney Week conference.  Kidney Week was among the TSE Medical Show Report growth leaders in the second half of 2013 with a 10.7% jump in exhibit space.

Other second-half growth leaders, the American Academy of Optometry’s Academy 2014 and the Greater New York Dental Meeting, were set for November in Denver and New York City respectively.