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10 tips to get the most from an EMS conference exhibit hall

Be prepared and intentional engaging with vendors to learn more about new products for your EMS agency


WEMSA Working Together attendee learns about stroke care.


Editor’s note: Thanks to the Wisconsin EMS Association for this contribution first published in EMS Professionals - Jan/Feb 2015 issue.

By Wisconsin EMS Association Staff

1. See what’s already scheduled

Much of the exposition hall is already laid out. Check the floor plan, list of vendors, ads from vendors, plus email and mail advertising that is sent to you from the vendors right through the start of the conference. The more planning you can do prior to arriving, the more you are certain to get out of attending.

2. Check with your colleagues

If your organization has a capital expenditures list, budget or wish list, be sure you are familiar with it. Add these items to your personal list of things you know you want to see. In addition, there are likely products or services that others from your organization want to get information about, but are unable to attend the conference. Ask around. Find out what information you should be obtaining and bringing back from the conference with you.

3. Make an item list

Combine everyone’s information with all of the products and services you or your organization will be in the market for during the upcoming year. Create a list of all of the products and services you want to be sure and see.

4. Make a vendor list

Along with a list of items, there are likely specific vendors you will want to see. In addition to those vendors you’ve been doing business with for years, there may be new companies with booths at the conference whose names you’ve never heard of before. Long-term vendor relationships are important, but so is getting a fresh, new perspective. You may be surprised to find new companies offering great deals or items you didn’t even know existed. Check the vendor list and highlight those companies you want to be sure to see.

5. Attend the grand opening

One of the best opportunities to walk the exposition hall is during the grand opening. Everyone is fresh. Vendor booths are fully-stocked and fully-staffed. You’ll have several uninterrupted hours to spend in the hall and talk with the vendors. The grand opening give you the opportunity to make a list of booths that you want to make certain you return to before the conference is over.

6. Schedule time in the hall

It’s nice to do everything, including attending all of the conference’s educational classes, social events and hospitality rooms. The problem is you can only be in one place at a time! If you have a long exposition hall list to get through, taking time away from a class or two might be in your best interest. If you are hoping for extended one-on-one time with exhibitors for product demos or negotiations, expo exhibit hall traffic is greatly reduced while classes are going on. Take advantage of this downtime.

7. Split up (aka divide and conquer)

While it’s nice for a group of EMTs and paramedics from the same organization to go through the expo hall together, if you split up, you can cover two, three, four or more times the amount of ground separately than you can together. Perhaps you can split up for your first trip through the hall, regroup and then see those key vendors as a group later during the conference.

8. Schedule demos at your station

Don’t feel that you have to get everything completed during the conference. With so many different products, services and companies offering them, one of the best things you can do is schedule a time for the sales reps to provide demos to you and the rest of the members in your organization. It’s all about identifying new opportunities.

9. Cash and carry sales

While it’s not very likely anyone will buy a new ambulance or other large ticket item right off the show floor, many cash and carry sales might be available. Some great deals can be made if you are ready to purchase and take it with you! Don’t under estimate the willingness of a vendor to make a deal rather than load it all up and take it back home. From personal items to radios and gear, there are many sales taking place right on the show floor.

10. Take the conference guide with you

Perhaps your best resource after you leave the exhibit hall is the conference guide. It contains the names and contact information of every vendor in the exposition hall. Can’t remember the name of that new billing company that was located at the end of the first aisle? Look it up and get in contact with them – even months after the show.

About the Wisconsin EMS Association

The Wisconsin EMS Association (WEMSA) is Wisconsin’s largest member-based association representing EMS professionals. WEMSA’s mission is to represent and support the views and interests of its membership by Working Together as Your Voice for EMS to promote education, share information, and facilitate legislative action. WEMSA produces EMS Professionals, a bi-monthly 48-page EMS publication, and the annual Working Together conference, one of the largest EMS conferences in the country. To learn more, visit