Messe Dusseldorf North America and the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau will jointly launch Medical World Americas in April 2014. It will be the second show in two years that the Houston CVB has launched with a partner.
Medical World Americas will be modeled after Messe Dusseldorf’s Medica event, which routinely attracts 130,000 attendees and 4,500 exhibitors to the venue (which venue?) in Dusseldorf, Germany, each year.
Greater Houston CVB President and CEO Greg Ortale spoke with Expo Magazine Executive Editor Michael Hart about the decision to produce shows in partnership with others.
EXPO: Why did you make the decision to launch a show in partnership with a second party like Messe Dusseldorf?
Greg Ortale: We have determined strategically that growing our own shows was an advantage to us. That’s why we started Total Energy USA.
We’ve got about six different shows we’re involved with in one way or the other. But Medical World Americas and Total Energy USA are the two in which we have significant ownership.
EXPO: Can you explain a little more about what you mean when you say this idea is advantageous for you?
Ortale: We have a number of strong industries here in Houston. The community believes it is an advantage for our industry that’s here locally to be here every year. I call it a home-field advantage. Health care, energy, space and technology and the port, primarily transportation: Those industries are significant, they’re important to us.
It’s an opportunity particularly for the Texas Medical Center to showcase how big it is and what it means not only to Houston, but to Texas and to the nation and the world in terms of research and the intellectual capital that is here.
EXPO: How hard was it to put this together?
Ortale: We’ve been working on this for about three years, convincing Messe Dusseldorf that this was an opportunity. At the same time, we’ve been doing a bit of education with Texas Medical Center. Some strategies came together and we were able to make it happen.
EXPO: Can you briefly describe what Medical World Americas will be?
Ortale: We’re modeling it after Medica, so the seminars and plenary sessions are going to change every year. We’re starting out with cardiology, oncology and emergency care.
EXPO: So you’re liable to get a different group of attendees every year?
Ortale: That’s the plan, to keep attendees coming that are interested, so they don’t decide to say, “Been there, done that.” It will provide the medical center with an opportunity to showcase their best and brightest.
EXPO: What is the Greater Houston CVB’s actual involvement in the shows?
Ortale: Messe Dusseldorf North America is responsible for populating the showfloor. We’re responsible for the plenary and the promotion.
EXPO: Do you anticipate what you have done with Total Energy USA and will do with Medical World Americas to be a model for what you’ll do with other local industries and events?
Ortale: We’re not in the business of being show producers on an annual basis. We’re not looking for new shows all the time. We’re not Reed Exhibitions or somebody like that, but if there’s the right opportunity and something that provides an opportunity to Houston, we’ll consider it.
But it has to be more than just a show. Both Total Energy and Medical World are opportunities to really provide an asset to the core industry of the community.
EXPO: Is this a trend that you expect other venues and other cities to adopt as well?
Ortale: It depends a lot on their opportunities. It’s not easy to just say, “Hey, I’ve got this building, let’s go fill it up.”
Not every city is Houston either, with the kinds of industries we have available. You’ve got to have something that has a local demographic that makes sense. There are going to be some that will when it makes sense. There will be others that don’t need to, where the business is absolutely there.
For us, it is the right thing at the right time.