By Lauren Burns
Jason Mauterer, Director of Marketing Communications at the Metropolitan Denver Dental Society, talked with me recently about relationships with exhibitors, rebranding, and why this year looks so exciting.
What attendance trends have you seen over the last few years at your meeting?
We've seen an increase in our attendance recently. We rebranded for 2012 and had a very large lift — we had more than 8,700 attendees. That's around a 22% percent attendance increase overall and a 40% increase in out-of-state visitors.
What do you attribute your numbers to?
We believe there are a couple of contributing factors. One is the strength of our program. We have been able to provide attendees with a really top-notch educational experience, bringing in speakers from all over the world and offering a broad range of topics. We have increased our marketing reach nationally and modernized our branding in addition to creating a greater social media presence. Our Denver location is also a factor. Denver is really a city on the rise. Attendees, speakers and vendors can experience our beautiful city, be treated to some great Western hospitality and even add on a ski vacation at some of the best ski areas in the world. The increased interest in Denver as evidenced by the fact that the 2016 ADA Annual Session will be held in our city.
RMDC Attendance Numbers:
2012: 2,429 dentists, 8,765 total
How did you rebrand?
We went for a simpler, more iconographic brand, and we pushed our marketing further and louder than ever before. We won a Gold Key award for our 2012 marketing campaign. This is something we're continuing with, as it's a three-year marketing strategy. It had been changing every single year, and in 2012 we decided to take a broader approach by building that brand. We're scaling back on conventional paper-marketing and getting more technological. We have an app for the 2012 meeting, which we launched in October. We're also moving further with our direct marketing this year. Our save-the-date piece went out to around 13,000 people — well over what it was for the 2011 convention.
When do you start to promote your meeting?
We start promoting our meeting at our current convention by highlighting the educational program. We use trade publications like the ADA News and other society journals throughout the year. We promote as vendors at other dental shows. These approaches are coupled with email and social marketing, some traditional direct mail marketing, and finally the convention app.
What are some of the best aspects of your meeting. What are the things you like to brag about?
Our educational program is a central part of the RMDC meeting. We strive to provide the best educational experience to the entire dental team. Our expo hall showcases the latest dental technology, products and services. It is also very important to us that we use the latest technology to provide a smooth and enriching experience for attendees. To that end, our website provides both an interactive program and expo hall, free WiFi is available to all attendees, and our convention app allows attendees to make their own schedule, provide instant feedback, get their CE credits and have all the convention information they need at their fingertips.
What changes have you seen in your show over the last five years?
We have made some big changes in our marketing by updating our brand, redesigning and simplifying our website, adding free on-site WiFi and, of course, creating our convention app. We've also added fast-track courses.
What are some changes you are making for future meetings?
As a Society, we are working on building a state-of-the-art dental education facility in downtown Denver, very close to the Colorado Convention Center, where we hold the RMDC. We plan to utilize this facility before, during and after the RMDC to offer high quality hands-on education. We are hoping to have it for use at the 2014 RMDC.
How do you keep your exhibitors happy so that they come back again?
We have built strong relationships with our exhibitors through constant communication and by keeping them involved with the Society's activities beyond RMDC. One of the features that exhibitors really appreciate are our exhibitor hosts. A group of member volunteers take the time each day to visit every exhibitor. They make sure exhibitors get the assistance they need and get feedback on how we can make their experience better. We also hold an "Exhibitor Critique" meeting on the final morning of the convention. This is a session for any exhibitor to have a direct forum with the convention committees and staff to make suggestions for making the exhibiting experience a better one each year.
How do you draw doctors to your show?
The strength of our educational program is one important draw, as is our location. We try to reach out to them where they are by having a presence at some other dental meetings, such as the ADA Annual Session. Also, our 1,600+ members can attend for free.
How do you make sure the doctors are spending time in your exhibit hall?
We make sure to create time in the schedule just for visiting the expo hall. We have features and events in the hall such as the convention restaurant and a special expo hall reception. And finally, our exhibitor hosts are making sure to promote the expo hall at the close of each course.
What should we expect for 2013?
This year looks pretty exciting. The Dawson Academy will be premiering a new course here and The Pankey Institute is returning with three days of courses. The program also includes Dr. Newton Fahl from Brazil, Dr. Michael Norton from England, Dr. John Kanca III, Dr. Michael Miller, Dr. Kim Kutsch, Dr. John Coke and many others, for all of those looking to get their CE credits. It's going to be bigger and better than last year all around. Of course, Denver is gorgeous in January and it's a huge destination city by itself. We also partner with resorts in the area to make it easy for visitors to stay after the convention: the resorts build packages specifically for our guests — they'll even provide a shuttle from downtown Denver to the resort and back again. 2013 is going to be a great year for the RMDC. We're excited!
Can you provide a synopsis of what your meeting aims to do, and how?
We aim to provide the entire dental team with the most up-to-date and enjoyable educational experience through lectures, hands-on courses, an expo hall showcasing the latest products, and fun networking events. We do this by bringing together engaging speakers, recruiting vendors with the newest products or services, and providing time and events that facilitate networking. We make the whole experience both fun and easy, using the best meeting technology available.