“I think what’s NOT here from an exhibitor standpoint is almost as noticeable as what is on display here…”
said one veteran attendee traversing the aisles at the spring 2017 Medtrade held at the Las Vegas Mandalay Convention Center, February 28 – March 1.
She was referring to the obvious dwindling number of exhibitors compared to several years ago at the spring Medtrade Expo, due to consolidation and other economics currents running through the homecare industry. “But the contacts I make here and the educational conferences make it still a very strong event I would never want to miss,” she continued.
While the overall DME attendance seemed smaller than in past years, many exhibitors were extremely pleased at the quality of the attendance and found their booths packed, especially on the opening Tuesday of the Expo.
Micah Swick, National Sales Director for Pride Mobility Corp., Exeter, PA., said Pride’s spring show was fantastic and that Pride had sold more than $5 million, at retail, of its new Jazzy Air in just the past ten months. “Our provider partners are turning the corner and increasingly are realizing their future and success rests with themselves rather than in government policy and reimbursement; the future is retail,” he noted. Swick cited the big dollar margin items Pride offered as being in the wheelhouse providers needed to prosper.
Hank Liser, director of marketing for Stars N Stripes, Los Angeles, CA, said the company’s scooters, on display at the center of the show floor, attracted big crowds, perhaps lured by the company’s extensive national TV branding.
Alec Stern, co-founder of HandyCane, Salem, MA, said he signed up many distributors and could not have been more pleased.
“We had a very, very busy first day and this is the first Medtrade spring show we have ever attended. Our first Medtrade show was in Atlanta this past fall and it went really well. So we decided to exhibit at the spring Medtrade and have not been disappointed,” Stern said. He was doubly pleased when he learned HandyCane had won the “The Providers’ Choice Gold Award” sponsored by Homecare Magazine.
The awards were voted on by attendees to the New Products Pavilion on the Expo floor. The pavilion featured some of the most innovative HME products that have been on the market for less than one year.
Jon Schultz, sales director for OxyGo® POCs and Applied Companies, reported very high interest in his company’s new OxyGo FIT™ lightweight POC and other oxygen products. “We had two booths in different areas of the show for the first time ever, and both were extremely well attended. We were very, very pleased. The first day of the show we could have used even more space to field all the inquiries we had,” Schultz said.
When not on the show floor, attendees were able to benefit from multiple educational conference sessions on audits, business operations, competitive bidding, executive education, legal guidelines for operating their businesses, Medicare updates, retail, plus and sales and marketing.
One of the topics most often discussed was the urgent need to aggressively move into the retail market. This is because, as the conference description for a Tuesday afternoon session entitled “Keeping it Legal” so accurately pointed out:
“A DME supplier can no longer survive while being dependent on Medicare for fee-for-service…with competitive bidding, stringent documentation requirements, lower reimbursement, post-payment audits, tightening Medicare purse strings—Medicare fee-for-service should only be a component of the supplier’s total income stream. There are 78 million baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964); they are retiring at a rate of 10,000 per day and are accustomed to paying for things out-of-pocket. The successful DME will be focused on selling upgrades and selling items for cash.”
One of the best ideas conveyed to DME’s and HME’s interested in increasing retail sales was made at a round table “Power Lunch” sponsored by VGM on how to maximize retail sales. “Put a price tag on everything and on the flip side of that price tag list other products in your store that can go or fit with that product,” suggested one participant. That suggestion was met with sustained applause.
The next Medtrade Expo will be held October 24-26, 2017 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA. The conference sessions will run October 23-26, 2017. Stay tuned for show updates.