Tim over at HIStalk has a very revealing guest article today: The Cost of Exhibiting at HIMSS (HIStalk).
Since I’ve been in the product space (both HIT and non-HIT) for a while and know about the costs of exhibiting at many of these conferences it wasn’t news to me about why little guys are underrepresented. HIMSS isn’t much better or worse than, say, JavaOne or other tech conferences but if you don’t know how much small companies spend on HIMSS it’s a good case study.
Having been on the sales side of the vendor booth for more than my share of conferences, let me echo the writer’s words:
The cost a vendor incurs to participate at HIMSS is quite substantial. And we DO have to be there if we are going to be a player on any level. Once you attend one time, you are committed for life or you are labeled financially shaky by every competitor’s sales rep out there. As a matter of fact, Inside Healthcare Computing (back when it was done by Suzanne Corrales and Bill Donovan, two people for whom I also have a tremendous amount of respect) used to publish a list of vendors who dropped out of HIMSS each year.
Not only is it expensive to be there, it is also a tough place to display your products. Generally you get people for only a few minutes if at all. It is oftentimes hard to tell whether those people are technology weenies, consultants, vendor spies or decision makers. It does not matter to us. At our booth, all of us doing demos are technology weenies of some sort or another. We simply love showing our product. As a small company, generating several leads and seeing old friends makes the trip almost worthwhile. I am never sure our CFO would say that the expense is justified, however.