Meet, greet, and learn at trade shows

Meet, greet, and learn at trade shows

Maximize your overall conference experience by spending some quality time in the exhibit hall.
Dec 20, 2010

Dr. Jeff Rothstein
A couple of years ago, I attended CVC in Kansas City with a different perspective. I had come down from Michigan with a colleague who took an interesting approach to the show. His mission was to visit every vendor in the exhibit hall.

My friend dedicates one trip a year to visiting conference vendors. He likes to do this when he's on the road, away from the state veterinary conference, because on his home turf he's too easily distracted by all the people he knows.

When I visit an exhibit hall, my approach is usually to go to the few booths that interest me and make a few other stops to say hello to industry friends, then I blow by the rest. So my friend's strategy was novel to me. He says he can learn a lot, or at least a little, from every vendor.

Working the floor: The information-packed exhibit hall at CVC Central.
I followed closely as my guide religiously visited every booth. It was a little like being at a flea market. And sure enough, there was something to learn from everyone. For example, after many years of doing dental work, we learned that there's a whole world of useful dental instruments we didn't know existed—but probably should have. At the same booth, I found out that the manufacturer of our new dental radiography unit would readily sponsor a dental seminar for our clinic or a group of area clinics.

Next I met the president of our veterinary software company and got updated on some important new features, including a new integrated credit card processing system, which will save my practices big bucks. The list goes on and on: technological advances, improved medications, online hospital pharmacy services, and online staff training programs that will serve our businesses well.

I'd thought this might be a boring way to spend two or three days, considering there were lots of other things competing for our attention. But I tried it, and it was eye-opening and educational. The growing veterinary industry has attracted all types of new services and products. And thanks to my foray through the trade show hall, I'm on the cutting edge. My friend and I met a lot of interesting folks and made some solid business connections. We ate well, too. There always seemed to be an interesting lunch presentation and no shortage of snacks being handed out.

So, I encourage you to experiment with your conference time, too. A different perspective certainly yields different results. And don't overlook the incredible resources in the exhibit hall when you make your plans.

Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board Member Dr. Jeff Rothstein, MBA, is president of The Progressive Pet Animal Hospitals and Management Group in Michigan.