Tradeshows: Are They Worth the Investment?

Fall is here, which means tradeshow season is upon us! These industry events are valuable educational and networking opportunities. Even so, registration fees, travel, lodging, and meal expenses for employees require financial planning. With so much to consider in terms of dollars spent, are tradeshows really worth it? This article will explore five reasons why, even with all the added costs, it’s worthwhile for research sites to attend tradeshows.

Reason #1: Assess your messaging

Whether you’re exhibiting at a particular tradeshow or attending without a booth in tow, these spaces offer excellent opportunities for learning about how other research sites present themselves in the industry. Take this opportunity to notice their messaging and assess your own. This doesn’t mean you should focus on pointing out flaws or copying the things you like; just take the time to notice what impact others’ collateral, booth, and staff have on your experience of business side of their site, and consider how your look, feel, and presentation may affect the experience of your audience in the same space. Think about your site’s strengths and try to identify ways to make those stand out.  

Depending on the type of show you attend, you may also have the opportunity to see how sponsors and CROs present themselves. Are there themes that they all seem to follow in their advertising, or are there differences that make one stand out over another? Consider these factors and reflect on how your site might align with their messaging or stand out to them. Are you presenting your strengths to the best of your ability?

Reason #2: Potential partnerships

Simply attending a tradeshow will only get you so far; it’s the networking aspect of these events that can really be a game changer. While tradeshows are great places to generate leads on potential studies, casting a wide net that includes partnerships with other sites can be hugely beneficial. You may not walk away from the tradeshow with a new study using only this tip, but it’s likely to help you in the long run. Tradeshows provide a unique opportunity to surround yourself with professionals from across the industry and from various geographic locations.

Consider your strengths in the industry—are there organizations that might benefit from your area of focus that might also be good resources for you? What about sites in other geographic areas that specialize in your area of research? Perhaps you can share suggestions for effective patient recruitment methods, or you may find that you could be good referral sources for your future studies. Success often depends on networking—so get out there and make connections!


Reason #3: Educational Opportunities

Tradeshows aren’t just about the exhibit hall; they’re also great spaces to learn more about the advances in our industry from people who are doing the work. Attending sessions is a great way to explore new areas of interest and make connections, learn different ways of doing familiar tasks, and refresh and revive your investment in the importance of your job. Plus, you can earn continuing education credits by attending sessions—particularly workshop-style sessions—at some industry conferences and tradeshows.

Reason #4: Build Your Reputation

As we’ve mentioned, when you are thinking about attending a tradeshow, you should always keep in mind your strengths— the strengths of your site as a whole and the strengths of individual members of your research team. Chances are, your research team is full of experts who could lead an educational session, and might really enjoy doing so. Sharing knowledge and enriching the experiences of other attendees can have positive ripple effects for the reputation of your organization across the industry.

Think about the industry focus of the tradeshows you’d like to attend and check out the themes of each show. How can your team add to the experiences of other attendees? Are there other organizations you work with that might be interested in co-presenting? When it comes to getting a speaking spot, each show is a little bit different and some have deadlines further out than others, so plan ahead!


Reason #5: Connect with People You Only Know Via Email

Reach out to current or prospective industry partners to see which tradeshows they might be attending, and let them know which you plan to attend; if you’ll be in the same place at the same time, schedule a time to meet or make an effort to stop by their booth in the exhibit hall. Often, relationships in our industry are built entirely through conversations happening via the internet across time zones; while the internet is a great tool, these communications alone can lead to miscommunication and misunderstanding—things that have a huge impact on study start-up. In a business world dominated by email, the chance to connect face-to-face really is irreplaceable.  In our industry, trade shows and industry events are the easiest way to make this happen.


In Summary

Cost of registration, travel, and other expenses may feel like reasons to avoid tradeshows altogether, but even sending one representative from your site can create ripple effects that will have lasting impacts on future success. The wealth of opportunities for education, networking and industry engagement are nearly impossible to find anywhere else, making tradeshows a worthwhile investment.

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