If you’re involved with the senior living industry, sooner or later you hear the question: “Will I see you at LeadingAge?” While there are lots of different state-level meetings of this association of senior living organizations, the question invariably refers to the Big Kahuna of conventions, the national LeadingAge conference (in Philadelphia in 2018, in San Diego in 2019).
As usual, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question for vendors. But to help our clients and others determine whether—and how—they should invest in LeadingAge, Quantum Age decided to survey the companies who either exhibited at or attended the Philadelphia conference this year.
Not only did 2/3 of respondents “strongly agree” that it was worth the time and money to attend LeadingAge, but fully 82% crossed the Net Promoter threshold and said they would recommend to others that they attend. That’s a very high number.
- Leads: About half of vendor marketing personnel agreed that it is a good place to uncover new leads;
- Current Customers: About half of respondents agreed that it is a good place to connect with existing clients/customers;
- Brand-Building: Fewer (30%) called LeadingAge a good place to build awareness of your brand.
Most interesting, only 24% of respondents felt that the exhibit hall traffic was strong, and only 35% felt the networking events were excellent. So why the positive rankings? In reading the open-ended responses, it’s clear that people really value the “unofficial” events and informal networking – both with senior housing prospects and with other vendors.
Unofficial Events and Informal Networking
Quantum Age assisted a number of clients with these unofficial events. Here are a few examples:
- Focus Group: A client of ours is considering launching a new service. We convened a focus group of senior housing operations executives to provide feedback on the idea. It was a great discussion and led to the company deciding to hold off for a year before launch – a much cheaper way to uncover the challenges than blundering into a premature offering.
- Invitation-Only Reception: We used some local connections to book a “happy hour” gathering in a private room at a Philadelphia brew pub. This gave everyone a chance to recover from the day’s activities and re-group for party-hopping later in the evening. And it gave the host an excellent opportunity to show some love to current clients and build relationships with new prospects.
- Masterminds Roundtables: To share best practices and build community among senior care industry professionals, Quantum Age hosts several Masterminds gatherings geared to specific disciplines—B2B marketing and architecture/design, among others. While some participants are initially hesitant to share openly with other companies that might (or might not) be competitors, by the end of the sessions all attendees enthusiastically engage, participate and swap business cards with their peers.
We closed the survey by asking and open-ended question: what suggestions do you have for first-time exhibitors? Several that I really enjoyed were:
- Plan ahead and plan carefully for meetings and receptions, because they are often better than the “official” events;
- Take the time to network with other exhibitors, in addition to attendees;
- Get a booth close to the food station, not the door, because everyone makes a beeline for lunch!
If you’re considering exhibiting at LeadingAge 2019, October 28-30 in San Diego, and would like some help getting everything planned, organized, and implemented, Quantum Age does this every year for clients large and small. Ask me – email@example.com
And watch this space for our next vendor survey, after the national Argentum conference.