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Study Reveals How Attendees Would Redesign the Convention Experience

Two years of attendee focus groups reveal top five trends.

logoImpact Unlimited, a leading provider of brand communications for events, meetings and exhibits worldwide, presented the results of its two-year focus group on attendees’ perceptions of exhibits and conferences at the recent Mid-Winter Health Care Exhibitor Association in Baltimore.

Impact Unlimited commissioned several on-line focus groups to study attendees’ experiences with and perceptions of tradeshow exhibits and healthcare events. The study comprised 60 attendees that had attended medical conferences within the past two years and analyzed their thoughts on how exhibitors could help them improve their show experience. In addition, Impact Unlimited highlighted strategies for exhibiting pharmaceutical, equipment, and device companies designed to help them align their convention strategies with the results from the focus group. As a result Impact Unlimited identified the five major trends within attendees’ conference experiences.

“The survey respondents provided some very timely and insightful advice for today’s exhibitors,” said Ken Payne, President of Impact Unlimited. “Although this survey comprised physicians specifically, we found these trends are applicable across most industries. All planners and convention exhibitors should re-consider the overall experience from the eyes of their attendees.”

Here are the top five trends identified, including some quotes from responding participants:

1. The commercial exhibit hall can be an overwhelming, inefficient learning experience for attendees.

Time constraints, crowds, lack of directional signage, shotgun use of multimedia and video and space constraints. All of these are factors that result in inefficient message absorption, learning, and use of time for physicians.

“Often times there are so many people, so many noises and so much activity that I have to try to close these potential distractions out in order to focus and prioritize,” said a participant.

“I am always overwhelmed by the exhibit hall. It is so confusing where to start, how to figure out if you have missed anything and where to go next with your limited time,” noted a participant.

2. Attendees want to be in control of their booth experience.
Most attendees have only a few minutes to spend at each booth, so it is crucial to allow them to control their experience while you control the environment.

As one participant surveyed put it, “I prefer to be by myself, and if I have any questions, I would approach someone. I want to get an idea first for me then explore deeper if necessary.”

3. Attendees of medical conferences want more pipeline and “off-label” information.
Off-label and pipeline information can be as important to attendees as existing products/services, but exhibitors tend to treat the areas in their exhibit as after thoughts.

“Off label is a large percentage of what we do. I would like to be able to ask non-sales people questions.” a participant noted.

4. Sales people are seen as too aggressive
Overly aggressive sales people are one of the greatest complaints and turnoffs for attendees at exhibits.

“Don’t stand at the edge of the booth and ‘pull’ us in as we walk by,” added a focus group participant.

In order to ensure that your customers have a positive experience, make sure your staff is friendly and helpful but not aggressive.

5. The key draw of conventions is changing.
Technology has impacted the key draw of conventions and exhibits. Updates on new research, networking, socializing, and travel are just some of the reasons for conference attendance. Product information and new research on-line is disrupting some of the original rationale of attending conventions – just as new film distribution channels like Netflix and On-Demand are taking a bite out of movie-going attendance with innovative and convenient ways of viewing films. That is why it is important to improve the overall exhibit experience to assure that physicians get the optimal value out of attending the program and look forward to returning.

Thinking about these trends when designing your next convention experience will help differentiate your company and ultimately contribute positively to your product and company’s total brand experience.

About Impact Unlimited
Headquartered in Dayton, N.J., with offices in Zurich, and São Paulo, Impact Unlimited is a creative and strategic company that provides a breadth of products and services that help its clients optimize investments in events, exhibits, and meetings. The company’s award-winning creative services, along with its in-house production capabilities and worldwide logistics network, provide clients with design-driven solutions for building their brands and their businesses at the most critical point in the marketing continuum–face-to-face at events, exhibits and meetings worldwide.

With 30 years of experience and success, and over 170 employees worldwide, Impact Unlimited serves a Blue Chip portfolio of clients spanning North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Visit www.ImpactUnlimited.com

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