Exploring the Vendor Exhibit Area: Enhancing Your Conference Experience

by Erica Mitchell | April 22 2024 | Infection Control, Product Evaluation, Conferences | 0 Comments

conference season vendors-01While attending academic conferences, don't overlook the vendor exhibit area – it's more than just a place to pick up free pens and notebooks. The vendor exhibit area is an opportunity to explore the latest products, services, and resources relevant to your field of study. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your time in the vendor exhibit area:

At conferences for infection control professionals, the vendor area is a combination of globally-recognized brands (typically in large, flashy booths) and smaller vendors around the edges representing smaller companies, professional organizations, support services, and more. How do you best approach such a packed, energetic environment?

  1. Research in Advance: Prior to the conference, take some time to familiarize yourself with the vendors who will be exhibiting. Visit their websites, look up peer-reviewed research on their products, and identify those that align with your research interests or professional needs. This will help you prioritize which booths to visit and make the most efficient use of your time. You can even reach out to the vendors in advance! (They would LOVE that.)

  2. Ask Questions: Don't hesitate to engage with the representatives at the vendor booths. Ask questions about their products, services, and any special offers they may have for conference attendees. This may be one of the only chances that you can have face-to-face access to experts on the product where you can ask your toughest questions, even bringing up those peer-reviewed studies you found!

  3. Collect Information: Be sure to collect informational materials such as brochures, flyers, and product catalogs from the vendor booths. Keep in mind that this marketing material is produced by the company and will therefore have sales in mind, including white papers. You will want to follow-up on claims you read in these materials by going to read the sources they cite, for example.

  4. Demo Products: Many vendors offer live demonstrations of their products or services at their booths. Take advantage of these opportunities to see firsthand how their solutions work. Whether it's a software tool, laboratory equipment, or cleaning product, experiencing a demo can help you make informed decisions about whether a particular product is right for you and your facility.

  5. Network with Vendors: Building relationships with vendors can be beneficial beyond the conference. Exchange contact information, connect on professional networking platforms, and stay informed about future updates, promotions, or events from the vendors you interact with. Often, the conference app will enable the vendor to scan your ID and therefore get your contact information - be sure to get that same information from them

  6. Attend Vendor Presentations or Workshops: Many vendors host presentations, workshops, or product showcases during the conference. These sessions provide in-depth insights into their offerings and may include case studies, best practices, or user testimonials. Again, keep in mind that these presentations all have sales as a goal, so there will be an emphasis on positive results and feedback. Take every claim with a grain of salt and follow up with your own research.

  7. Don't Ignore the Little Guys: Some companies have the financial means to rent enormous booths with all the bells and whistles. Some smaller, newer companies do not, but what they have to offer can be just as good, or better. Take some time to have a look at the smaller booths - you just discover a treasure.

By actively engaging with the vendor exhibit area, you can discover new tools, resources, and opportunities to enhance your research, clinical practice, or professional goals. So, be proactive, curious, and open-minded as you explore the diverse offerings available at your next conference!