After 14 hours of sleep and more than 500 filed e-mails, I think we have recovered from this year’s HIMSS conference in New Orleans. But doubled with Daylight Savings, the jury is still out!

Members of the RH Strategic team traveled cross country to support several health IT clients, network and learn about what is in store for the industry over the next several months from some of healthcare’s top thought leaders and innovators. Sounds like your standard trade show, yes?

AHIP graphicThe exhibit hall of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, which covers nearly 11 city blocks, was jam-packed with over 34,000 attendees and technology vendors who are getting smarter about how they coax exhibit-hall shufflers into their booths. That’s not to say that the days of warm baked cookies and freshly brewed jolts of caffeine in the afternoon hours are a thing of the past – the coffee has gone upscale and cookies have been paired with cocktails.

As PR representatives for many healthcare clients who invest in industry trade shows, we’re encouraged to throw ideas in the hat for increasing booth attention. Last year at a tradeshow, we were involved in a successful brainstorm with one of our clients to hire a graphic illustrator who would visually depict the conversations and discussions occurring between booth staff, executives and visitors about efficiencies in healthcare and cutting costs.

Not only was this a great conversation starter, but it produced a valuable takeaway for the client.

This year, HIMSS was a whole new ball game, with many vendors going above and beyond to lure guests. Here are a few that stood out to us and are sure to be talked about in next year’s planning discussions.

  • An insurance company engaged 25 attendees in a FitBit challenge. Each participant, who walked by at just the right time, received a free FitBit Zip and was asked to try to walk the most steps in 24 hours. Asking each participant to return to their booth to sync their new FitBit for the chance to win an iPad Mini at the conclusion of the competition ensured additional traffic to the booth.
  • Some would say a gold standard of HIMSS, a software vendor hosted a sports-bar-themed booth, fully equipped with bartenders, full glasses and bar snacks. I’m sure you can understand why this method never gets old!
  • A healthcare electronics company tugged at heart strings as they donated every badge scanned to Hope For the Warriors, an organization that’s enhancing the quality of life for post-9/11 service members, their families, and families of the fallen and wounded in the line of duty. We’re not sure what kind of draw this brought into their booth, but it was a good conversation starter.

HIMSS badge for Kara Lundberg
Of course, there will always be magicians, booth babes, popcorn, and theatre-sized big screens, but everyone knows that booth traffic is at its highest when some good old fashioned creativity is involved.

Until next year, HIMSS! Now, back to repairing our sleep cycles and e-mail inboxes.