It is trade conference season for those of us in the health care industry. Local, regional, national and international meetings are in full swing. We participate in them - as exhibitors, speakers and attendees. I was just at the Medical Device Manufacturers (MDM) meeting in Chicago as an attendee. Before that, I had the opportunity to address the Great Detroit Central Service Society as a speaker and then man a table as an exhibitor. My observation is that local shows are well attended, however, national meetings are feeling the effects of the economy. I suppose this makes sense - if you don't have the budget for a national meeting (including transport, lodging and meals), go to a local meeting, where you get many of the benefits for a whole lot less money.
What had me thinking more deeply was a technology oriented podcast I listened to over the weekend. They were talking about one of the major consumer electronic meetings and the decline in attendance. One commentator said to the other, "Do you think trade conferences are over?" What he meant was, the combination of the cost along with the development of new communication technologies such as the Internet, spelling the end of face-to-face conferences. Maybe. But, there is nothing quite like sitting down in person with someone to accomplish important communication. Most likely, while trade shows may ebb, they will not disappear. Too much value is to be found there.