Periodically, we catch up with those trade show professionals recognized as the 2013 Expo Elite. This week we speak with Karen Malone, vice president of meetings services for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), as she prepares for the Feb. 23-27 in Orlando.
Expo: What’s new you for you at HIMSS?
Karen Malone: Our show is doing very well. We are running 9.5 percent ahead on exhibit sales over last year. It’s because there’s so much going on in health care IT.
There has been an influx of products and companies into our industry. We’ll have 325 first-time exhibitors this year. For the first time, we are going to have a start-up showcase with more than 40 companies.
Expo: What’s been your biggest challenge in preparing for this year’s show?
Malone: Probably it would be managing the hotel support. We’re up to 85 hotels and making sure they’re keeping their commitments is a big challenge. And, of course, this year, like everybody else, we have to keep an eye on the weather and make sure we have contingency plans for speakers who maybe at the last minute have travel problems.
And we took a good look at our schedule. We realized we have grown up so much that we need to give people more time to get from place to place. They need more than 15 minutes to get from one conference session to another.
And we cut out our mid-day break on the showfloor because we realized it takes too much time to try to clear the floor. We just barely had everybody out before it was time for them to come back.
Expo: What is the secret to your and HIMSS’ success?
Malone: Good planning. Good strategic foresight. This is a huge team initiative. It’s several teams, not just one, that come together and bring this to light. It’s an integrated marketing approach and very thoughtful planning that does it.