Each year, more than 10,000 veterinary professionals attend the NAVC Conference, but 2017 will be an entirely new experience for them. They'll arrive to find an exciting, innovative "all-in-one" venue at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.
Why is this a big deal for your customers, and you?
Several reasons. For many years now, the NAVC Conference had been held in three different hotels at once, to accommodate all programs, attendees, exhibits, meetings, entertainment, and other activities.
This meant veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and office managers had to ride shuttles between the three hotels to attend CE sessions and other events, and to visit the Exhibit Halls. In short, it was inconvenient, and it was a challenge to take it all in.
In addition, with two Exhibit Halls in two different hotels, many of the product manufacturers had to hope that all attendees would take the time to visit both Halls, fitting booth visits between sessions and shuttle travel. You can see the dilemma.
But the NAVC Conference experience is changing for the better… for attendees, manufacturers, and distribution companies… because everything will be held in one centralized location. 90% of the scientific sessions are taking place in the Convention Center adjacent to a massive 410,000 square-foot Exhibit Hall.
We recently caught up with Whitney Brockman, NAVC Director of Sales, so she could explain the many advantages of the new venue. Read on, because this is a good thing for you, too!
She said, "With this new format, we know that veterinarians, techs and others will be thrilled to be able to go from track to track, without having to worry about hopping on a bus. Plus they can walk into the Exhibit Hall anytime they have a coffee break or 30-minute time slot to kill.
"And, after they attend a session that features a new product or service, they can stop by the Exhibit Hall immediately afterwards to see the innovation and talk with manufacturers. A lot of the companies sponsoring symposia, etc. are connecting their products to drive traffic… saying, 'Make sure you come visit us.' The close proximity will make it MUCH easier for attendees to get to those booths."
Whitney mentioned that another exciting new feature is something called, "NAVC Central." "We'll have an area in the center of the Conference venue, designed to draw more traffic into the Exhibit Hall. In NAVC Central, attendees will be invited into a learning theater, where 20-minute presentations will be provided on new products and services. In addition, attendees will be encouraged to check out new product launches featured on interactive touchscreen panels. All they have to do is look at the screen and swipe to watch videos, download or email white papers to themselves, and locate the new product booths."
Now, you may be asking yourself — that all sounds really cool, but I'm not going to the NAVC Conference. Why does this matter to me?
Whitney had an answer for that question. She said, "We know that after attending the NAVC Conference, veterinarians go back to their practices really excited. They love the CE sessions and they're ready to implement new ideas presented in the tracks. And of course, quite often the new ideas involve new equipment, protocols, tools, etc.
"So as a distributor rep, you can make a plan to ask all your practices, 'Did you attend the NAVC? (If so), tell me what you learned! What was your key take-away? What was the most exciting product you learned about?' This opens the door for a great discussion about looking at and ordering new products."
Remember, many of the industry's product manufacturers choose to launch or introduce new products at the NAVC Conference because it's the first major event each year, with a huge attendance. It's the perfect time to unveil new products.
To get a DSR perspective on all this, we spoke with Charles Ruff, a Henry Schein distributor representative. Charles has been in the industry for 29 years; 18 of them as a manufacturer's rep and 11 as a DSR. He has attended the NAVC Conference several times, and offers the following tips.
He said, "If you're attending the Conference, you may find yourself not having much downtime because you're working the trade show floor. But, you can use your experience at the booth — get the doctors to tell you what's new, what's going on. This has been a great approach with some of my best clinics. I leave the show with a list of things to follow up on. When I get home, I get that list, and then go on the Internet and the phone to call the manufacturers and learn more about the products so I can follow up with my customers."
He continued, "Keep in mind that 50 percent of my customers buy products during the NAVC, and another 50 percent ask the DSRs afterwards. So, after the NAVC, I'll try to find out who's been to the event, what they saw, what they're interested in, and try to get an idea of their timeline. If it's something they're hot on — I get to it ASAP. Some customers will say they're not ready to buy… but if I have a financial tool I can offer them, I'll bring it up with a possibility of moving ahead."
If you don't attend the NAVC Conference, you'll still want to brush up on all the new products being introduced at the Exhibit Hall so you're ready to discuss them when your customers get back home.
Check with each manufacturer, see what they're launching, and bring up these innovations during your sales calls after the show. The NAVC Conference 2017 dates are February 4-8.