Getting to Your Happy Place at HIMSS19

Getting To Your Happy Place at HIMSS19

HIMSS19 is fast approaching and for a successful conference, you are likely already planning and preparing. The Amendola team is in full swing preparing clients for the big show in Orlando, from product announcements, media kit development and booth collateral to social media campaigns and on-site support for press interviews and analyst briefings.

We’ve written a number of blogs on the subject of HIMSS including Getting Noticed at HIMSS: 4 Insider Tips from Industry Journalists to Maximize Media & Analyst Interviews at HIMSS and also Tips for Staying Healthy at HIMSS. There is some valuable information here from my A-Team colleagues. I’d like to highlight the information I find most valuable and add a few tidbits of my own wisdom to the topic.

First a few facts. The 2019 HIMSS Conference in Orlando will be bringing together 45,000+ professionals from 90+ countries.  There will be 300+ education sessions, 1,300+ vendors, hundreds of special programs and endless networking events. The conference will be held at the Orange County Convention Center which boasts 7 million square feet of meeting and exhibition space.

Yes, that’s a lot of people and a lot of walking.  In addition to hand sanitizer, a supply of ibuprofen, tums, breath mints and good shoes, I also recommend the following:

  • Have a fresh supply of water and snacks with you each day. With the amount of people in attendance, getting a quick meal during a break in meetings or sessions may not always be an option.
  • You will be doing a lot of walking.  I think one HIMSS I walked over 10 miles in one day. Track your steps. You will be getting your exercise. All that walking will be tough on your feet, but also on your legs, hips and possibly your lower back. Perform leg and lower back stretches in the morning, at night before you go to bed, and even throughout the day if you can manage it.
  • The weather in Orlando in February is gorgeous, especially for those of us who have been dealing with a cold and wet winter.  Take a few minutes to get outside the convention center and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Sometimes that can be a better “pick-me-up” than another cup of coffee.
  • Do your homework prior to the show.  Read the briefing book, including article links, your PR agency provides you to prepare for your press and analyst meetings.  It’s an excellent way to spend time on your flight to Orlando.
  • Know your elevator pitch and the key messages you want to convey during the show. Be prepared to convey those messages on the fly with someone you chat with while waiting in line for coffee. You never know who may be standing around you – a journalist, an analyst, a potential customer – always represent your company well.
  • Finally, have fun! HIMSS is hectic and tiring, but also exciting and can set the stage for a year of success.  And when it’s over, enjoy some extra time in Orlando.  You are close to the most magical place in the world as well as beautiful beaches less than an hour away. And if you are like me, be sure to make a reservation for a massage after HIMSS is over.  Your body will thank you for it!

See you in Orlando!


Making HIMSS19 Count

This year’s HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition (aka HIMSS19) in Orlando will be my eleventh—seven as a HIMSS staffer and four as a public relations liaison for vendor clients. The HIMSS Annual Conference has become the NFL of health IT—there is no real offseason and it gets bigger every year.

For the past several years, HIMSS has regularly attracted more than 45,000 attendees and 1,500 health IT vendors from around the globe.

If it sounds massive and daunting—that’s because it is. If you were to visit every booth in the cavernous exhibit hall for only 10 minutes, it would take you 168 hours non-stop—seven full days—to complete your mission. Some attendees have complained that the show has suffered from the sprawl, while others view it as a cornucopia of selections that can be personalized to suit specific needs.

For vendor exhibitors, HIMSS represents one of the year’s most significant challenges for event planners, marketers and public relations professionals. Exhibiting companies invest an insane amount of money (and it’s a lot of money) and time (lots of that, too) in making the show a success.

There is certainly a lot of low-hanging fruit to increase your visibility at HIMSS19: Thoughtfully incorporate HIMSS19-branded social tags into your social strategy; develop a content calendar specifically for the show; and promote HIMSS19 tools—like the mobile app HIMSS Circles—that attendees can leverage to find your booth and education sessions.

That’s all great. However, the focus of this post is on a rather under-reported challenge most exhibitors will face—separating the “tourists” from quality business leads.

Tourists are those herds of non-decision makers, culled from the unending flow of foot traffic, who visit your booth largely to acquire food, drinks and/or a free keychain. They also absorb an inordinate amount of your sales staff’s time—the same sales staff who ate up a huge chunk of your budget in travel, lodging and registration fees to rope in new business prospects.

You are never going to completely eliminate tourists, but there are some useful strategies that can both slow the flow of the uninterested and attract the demographic population that is more seriously interested in your solutions.

Identify Your Targets Early. Generating quality business leads requires outreach well in advance of the show. One of the recommendations we pound into first-time attendees is the importance of creating and keeping a schedule to avoid mission creep. With all the exhibits, education and networking events—to say nothing of all the stop-in-chats with peers in the hallway, HIMSS can be very distracting. Schedules fill up quick, so it’s important to connect with your leads as soon as possible. Consider investing in the HIMSS attendee list (not cheap) or utilizing a native or other third-party list to get leads scheduled to visit your booth. This also allows your staff to prioritize interested parties over passers-by.

Schedule Education and Demos. Are you noticing a scheduling theme here? I’ve noticed a number of vendors running little demos on an endless loop. They don’t seem to ever attract much attention. Instead, consider hosting scheduled education sessions and demos at your booth. Why? Scheduled demos can be easily promoted both before and during the show, making it easy for attendees to schedule time for a full presentation. Incorporate show-time signage into your booth. Speakers should be equipped with an A/V system, so a large group of attendees can see and hear everything you say. You should also film your presentation for distribution in press releases and social channels after the show, to reach an even bigger audience.

Hire a Tourist Wrangler. Reserve your most knowledgeable staff to handle serious prospects. Use lower level staff to handle visitors who may only be interested in asking a few perfunctory questions in order to obtain your swag. If a tourist turns out to be a legitimate lead, escalate them to the sales staff.

You are never going to completely eliminate tourists, but these strategies that can both slow the flow of the uninterested and attract the demographic population that is more seriously invested in exploring your solutions.