Attending HIMSS? How to Reap the Benefit of your Trade Show Investment

March 2018

There is always a little extra excitement when the annual HIMSS Conference takes place in Las Vegas. But before you start dreaming about hitting the roulette table, it’s important to prepare your HIMSS18 attendance game plan. Sure, vendors have purchased their booths, gathered their swag and executed their marketing outreach strategy already. But, to ensure hospital attendees get value out of their experience, their goals and tactical plan must be defined and executed before, during, and post-event.

Prior to the show, it’s important to define your key objectives for attending and understand your path to achieve them. Based on your experience, you probably have many questions prepared for when you stop by the vendor booth area. But there are things to think about prior to the event that will help facilitate better discussion with colleagues and vendors. If you’re at a temporary loss and sometimes can’t see the forest for the trees, here are good questions to get your mind firing:

  • What are the top three organizational or departmental challenges you face?
  • How much are these problems costing your team from a workflow, labor or monetary standpoint?
  • What would an ideal solution to these issues look like for you?

From a logistical point-of-view, it helps to have a solid travel plan and book the hotel at the conference to help coordinate a plan with your team. Make a list of education sessions, networking events and vendors you would like to see. It’s important to understand the history of the conference, read through trade show promotional material and get a flavor for this year’s theme. List your vendors by priority, with the top ones to be seen first, just in case your schedule gets hectic. It’s smart to have you and your co-workers divide education sessions between members. This will allow you to gather the most information for the team. Preparation is key prior to the show.

During the event, there are many opportunities for networking, industry knowledge, education sessions and learning “what’s new” with vendors and their latest offerings. Even if you didn’t schedule time in advance, stop by vendor booths and learn about the new widget, service or “blue-ocean technology” that is now available. Let them know that you have a tight-schedule and avoid small-talk or conversations that keep you from getting where you need to be.

Despite some preconceived misconceptions about sales reps, it would be a mistake to avoid engaging them at the booth. They should be able to answer your questions. If they cannot help you with your current issues, they are likely still well-networked and can provide context from their experience in the field to provide value to you. They have come to the booth armed and educated on their latest offering, what’s new in the industry and the value proposition of their solution, service and organization. You might get hit with a post-show email, but it will be worth the knowledge gained. On the other hand, don’t waste your time speaking with vendors that can’t help you with your current issues.

Some overlooked items? Wear comfortable shoes, hydrate, take good notes, grow your network and exchange business cards. Your performance during the tradeshow could contribute to career growth in the future.

After the conference, take time to organize your notes and gather your key takeaways. What were the major themes and initiatives being discussed at the conference? What did you learn from the education sessions your team attended? What vendors stood out as potential partners that can help you achieve your strategic objectives. It is important to follow up with new contacts and vendors after the show. Having a clear plan with action items following HIMSS and following through with them will be the final step to guarantee you reap the benefit of your HIMSS18 experience.