Trade shows for the dental profession are substantial business. Having experienced them from a variety of different perspectives, I’ve had some interesting insights over the years from the delegate, media and exhibitor perspectives.
I’ve attended many, many shows as a delegate, attending lectures and gaining some much-needed CPD. I like the format of the short, sharp presentations and there are usually a great range of topics to choose from.
Hands-on workshops are extremely useful and the big shows tend to have a few of these on offer—just make sure you sign up in advance. The shows are a great opportunity to visit exhibitor stands, see what new products are available and collect the odd sample (or three!). The shows are also great opportunities to network. Meeting up with colleagues and peers is important, and there are great opportunities to talk with companies and reps in a more relaxed manner than during the 10 minutes of your lunch break that’s left after a fractured post crown that was booked in at 12:45!
In my time as editor of DentaltownUK, I’ve also attended many shows as ‘media’ to conduct interviews and create content and articles. Observing from this perspective has given me insight into just how much organisation, work, effort and money goes into the shows. It is astonishing! Attending a venue the day before the show is quite an experience: There are armies of crew setting up stands, building, cleaning and getting things ready. At the show itself, there are multiple press releases and representatives from the dental press attending presentations, and also various stands, to be able to then report on what is happening in the industry. This becomes a valuable resource for dentists wanting to keep up to date with the latest guidelines and product launches.
First and foremost, attending a show is a massive investment for dental companies. It isn’t cheap; however, being at trade shows gives them a unique opportunity to be seen by large numbers of the company’s target audience.
The exhibition provides the space for a set rate; the exhibitor must then design and buy a shell or layout for that space, and then also pay for any extras such as lights, badge scanners, electricity, WiFi and chair rental. It all mounts up when you then consider the addition of travel, meals, accommodation, etc.—especially if there are large numbers of staff at the stand.
There is a huge effort by those involved to get there with everything they need, set everything up and then to be ‘on form’ for the duration. It’s actually quite a hard job to be in sales, which is essentially what it is.
Exhibitors need to be engaging, know their subject matter inside out and be prepared for how to deal with being either too busy or not busy enough.
Some exhibitors go to great lengths to stand out and attract people to their stands, and this has recently been the cause of some debate as to how appropriate or professional it is, with opinions and feedback from dentists on both sides of the argument.
Having experienced trade shows from the exhibitor’s perspective, I have more respect and sympathy for them! They are also essential in ensuring that many events and workshops are able to go ahead at all.
The next workshop or show you go to, please do make sure to spend some time at the stands. They really do deserve even a few minutes of your time!
In a world where everything seems to be going digital, is it a matter of time before trade shows are delivered through virtual reality, therefore cutting supplier’s costs and reducing time away from clinics? It would certainly reduce the profession’s carbon footprint substantially.
Would costs of materials be reduced to dentists if the trade show phenomenon was disbanded? Who knows what the future holds, but for now the ‘dental show must go on’ and they remain important events in the industry’s calendar.
I highly recommend that as dentists, not only do you go and gain CPD and network and investigate various exhibitors stands, but I would also encourage you to take your team. Your team can benefit from the CPD on offer, and also realise that they’re part of a huge, energetic and exciting profession that’s constantly evolving.
See you at the next trade show!
Mike Gow BDS (Gla) MFDS RCPS (Gla) MSc Hyp (Lon) PGCert (Edin), Editor, DentaltownUK magazine