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6 Tips for Getting the Most from Your Next Dental Tradeshow or Conference

By Rachel Moody, MBA on April 21, 2016 in Dental Business, Dental Marketing

For those who are not dental tradeshow veterans, and even those who are, they can be exhausting and overwhelming. There are so many people to see, so many things to do, but not enough time to do it. Before you hit the road to attend your next event, remember this advice.

Dental Tradeshow: Austin Powers at the 2015 Chicago Dental Society Midwinter Meeting!1. Register early and tell your staff
A dental tradeshow or conference will often give discounts for early registration with different policies and pricing structures, so do your homework to take advantage of special offers. Be sure to communicate with your office manager to block out your time as well as any staff members who may attend. PRO TIP: check the costs of the official rooming block as well as costs if you book directly. Often, the rooming blocks are cheaper, but there are exceptions.

2. To bring the dental team… or not?
Bringing your team has both positive and negative implications for the practice. Some of the advantages include developing the sense of partnership which can lead to less turnover and increased efficiency. There may be new products or services your staff can discover on the exhibit floor, and CE opportunities. If you do bring your staff, talk about your expectations for the event. On the flip side, paying for time out of the office, travel, expenses and registration can add up.

3. Plan ahead and set goals
Why are you attending the dental tradeshow? Do you have a particular product you want to learn more about, or need to fulfill CE requirements? Are you looking for the latest information and trends? These are some things you should consider when planning your schedule and setting goals.

  • Review the program: Think about what you’d like to accomplish at the show and plan your schedule around meeting those goals. Register for courses that will help support your goals, as well as one course that just sounds interesting. By expanding your dental knowledge across disciplines, you can become a better patient advocate.
  • Visit the show website: Dental tradeshow websites usually have great planning tools. You can map out the exhibitors you want to visit or find a specific speaker/topic.
  • Download the event app: Some of the larger shows have free apps available for download on your tablet or smartphone. This can be a convenient way to get schedules, speaker and exhibitor information, maps, downloadable content and alerts. PRO TIP: most apps have a section for ‘show specials’ and exclusive offers.
  • Create an itinerary: Make a schedule of the events you want to attend, including what exhibitors you want more information from. PRO TIP: Be sure to check the hours for lectures as well the times the exhibit hall is open. Some shows will have courses that end after the exhibit hall closes. If you’ve just learned about a new product or technique, you may not have the opportunity to ask all your questions if the hall is closed!
  • Plan your route: Save energy and time by printing a copy of the exhibitor hall floor plan and drawing a walking route.

4. Pack smart
Packing smart really means packing light and taking less to avoid checking a bag. However, below are some essential items:

  • Comfortable shoes: Whatever you choose, don’t wear new shoes or you’ll have aching, blistered feet before the end of the day!
  • USB battery packs: When your battery percentage dips into the red zone, it seems like nothing could be worse. Get savvy by packing USB battery packs. Charge them as often as possible back in your hotel room and stick a few in your bag. PRO TIP – sit near the edges in the lecture and look for an outlet for charging. Just don’t unplug the AV!
  • Smartphone: Yes, you already have it with you! Use the camera on your phone to take photos of new products you might want to purchase, new trends to follow up on, or just interesting items to share with the office. (You never know who might see on the tradeshow floor… Yeah baby!) And don’t forget the photo of where you parked your car!
  • Business cards: At the show, you will be networking and building new relationships. You never know when you’ll see an old classmate or a new referring clinician. Bring plenty of business cards and keep them in your badge holder for easy access.

Dental Tradeshow: 2015 Chicago Dental Society Midwinter Meeting exhibits5. Shop smart
A dental tradeshow is a great place to get your hands on new products, especially larger capital equipment like CAD/CAM systems and dental lasers. Plan on visiting exhibitors early in the day when your feet aren’t tired, then follow up at the end of the day. PRO TIP – often you can negotiate better deals on the last day of the show.

To prevent buyer’s remorse, here are some smart shopping tips:

  • Know what you need… and what you want more information on. Browse dental magazines like Dentistry Today, before the show to see what’s new.
  • Wander the entire floor before purchasing.
  • Looking for a specific technology? Pre-schedule appointments with your rep and be prepared with detailed questions.
  • Use social media to follow updates from products you’re interested in. Many companies post show-exclusive deals, giveaways, and prizes throughout the day.
  • Talk with your team about ways to increase your practice productivity. If they are attending the show as well, you can split up to walk the larger shows in less time.
  • If you’re considering a larger investment like the PerioLase MVP-7 dental laser for the LANAP protocol, bring your team to the exhibitor to ask questions. Practice integration is smoother when the entire team already feels invested with your decision.

6. Look for events on the tradeshow floor
In addition to the speeches, workshops, seminars, or panel discussions that are a part of the event program, exhibitors sometimes hold special events at their booth. Most dental manufacturers will have a clinician in their booth to give a presentation or answer questions. PRO TIP: If you miss a scheduled workshop and still have questions, stop by and ask.

So there you have it! With these tips, you will be an expert attendee that can survive any dental tradeshow – from the Chicago Midwinter to the Greater New York Dental Meeting.

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