When the members of the Dental Trade Alliance descended upon Carlsbad, Calif., recently for the DTA Annual Meeting, much of the pre-gathering talk centered around the trade show white paper drafted by the DTA (you can see this information by going to www.proofs.com and searching for “DTA”). It didn’t take long to find out if the DTA buzz was heard by trade shows.
During the DTA gathering, Randy Grove, the executive director of the Chicago Dental Society, broke the news that the Chicago Midwinter Meeting will change formats in 2010, going to a three-day show (Thursday to Saturday) while also moving to the McCormick Place West Building. Randy’s pamphlet (given to every DTA attendee) covered, point by point, how the Midwinter Meeting was complying with DTA’s request for a change in trade shows. Kudos to Randy and his staff on the new venue and format.
The June issue of Proofs and the trade show debate drew some response. Dr. John Wagner of Seattle, Wash., emailed me to tell me, “During the shows, the exhibitors are the customers and many of these state associations act like they are doing us a favor by selling us booths. Exhibitors want to have successful meetings and dental associations should welcome their input. But until they put together their clout and do something, it will remain the same.”
Cooperation is truly the key in this discussion. What’s best for the attendee? What’s best for the exhibitor? What’s best for the society or association putting on the show? These will all be different answers, but the focus has to be on drawing people into the exhibit hall. If dentists and their team members don’t visit the hall, no one will be happy. Drawing customers into the exhibition area should be the top priority for all meeting planners. Until that dilemma is solved, the debate over trade shows and their worth will continue.
Dr. Mark Murphy of Mercer Advisors made a simple but great point during his presentation at the DTA – we can’t predict the future, but we can prepare for it. Gary Price, chief executive officer of the DTA, added, “We want to infiltrate all of the crevices where we can help our industry grow. We need to be involved in issues. People are listening to us and we will continue our efforts to provide a better ROI for our customers.”
You can plan to see more about trade shows in the coming months, especially with the peak season (ADA in October to Chicago in February) just beginning. It should be interesting, and I always welcome your thoughts at [email protected].
I will say that I enjoyed the DTA meeting and I learned a lot, not only from the excellent program pieced together by DTA staff and volunteers, but also from the networking opportunities at every turn.
A record 99 companies attended the meeting, representing an increase of 10 over the previous record. DTA announced at the meeting that more than 30 new companies have been added to the membership rolls in the past year. Membership in DTA now numbers 196 companies.
The meeting program theme was “Signals of Change” and featured Clayton Christensen, noted Harvard business professor and author. The program focused on looking at the future of the dental industry. Presentations on the future of dental education, expanded duties for members of the dental team, the role of technology and the role of key opinion leaders stimulated the attendees to plan for a healthy business future for the industry.
DTA also announced a new strategic plan which focuses the efforts of the association on industry growth. A major reorganization of volunteers and staff will facilitate members’ success by influencing exports, the regulatory environment and insurance reimbursement. The DTA will increase its efforts to influence professional groups representing customers, which includes efforts at continued improvement of trade shows.
Next year’s DTA meeting is set for the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in Nassau, Bahamas, from August 12-15. My daughter has already put in her reservation to be a junior Proofs reporter on that trip.
Read on … this is your magazine.