The economy may still be battered, but that didn't stop nearly 12,000 eye care professionals from attending International Vision Expo West in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas-The economy may still be a little bruised and battered, but that didn't stop nearly 12,000 eye-care professionals (ECPs) from attending International Vision Expo West (VEW), which was held Sept. 30 through Oct. 3 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center here.
"Given today's economy, we are extremely pleased with these preliminary numbers," said Tom Loughran, event director for Reed Exhibitions, which co-owns the event with The Vision Council. "Our attendance demonstrates the prominence this event holds for buyers and eye care professionals alike. For exhibitors, this event continues to be the best way to maximize face-to-face interaction with their customers."
"There was a great buzz on the show floor and in the continuing education sessions," Loughran told Optometry Times. "The feedback we received from exhibitors is that even though the numbers are down, they recognize the event delivers a high-quality attendee to the show floor. The people who are coming to the show are key decision makers with buying power."
More than a fashion show
"Some people have the perception that Vision Expo is just a frame show, but we're also a major medical meeting," Loughran said. "Our CE is the largest optometric/optical CE meeting in the world. Last year, we had more than 4,300 attendees, and offered more than 360 hours of CE sessions. We get optometrists, opticians, and some dispensing ophthalmologists who join us here, and we're able to offer them world-class educational content put together by our conference advisory board."
Next year, the VEW conference will be held Oct. 6 to 9, 2010, and the exhibition will be held Oct. 7 to 9, 2010, again at the Sands in Las Vegas.
"When the economy's not doing well and you're able to come into the Sands Convention Center and experience the positive buzz of Vision Expo for 3 days, it makes you feel good about the profession and the optical industry," Loughran says. "I think people coming away from Vision Expo feel better about what they do for a living and feel better about where we are in the recession at this point."
Networking is the future
"We want to enhance our attendees' experiences," Loughran said. "Of course we want them to get CE, and we want them to be on the show floor shopping and buying products from people in the medical and scientific pavilion, which is an area on the show floor where they can get anything for the medical side of their practice. But we want to take things a step further with our networking events."
According to Loughran, those events will include a reception along the lines of the popular "Doctoberfest" that was held at VEW this year. There also will be an opportunity each day of Expo East to win a $500 reimbursement for purchases made on the show floor.
"Lastly, with healthcare being such a big issue in the Obama administration, we will again have a keynote speaker to ensure that the optometrist or ophthalmologist who visits Vision Expo will have the latest insights into what's currently happening on the national level," Loughran said.
The keynote speaker at VEW was Bill Applegate, senior policy advisor at Bryan Cave LLP. He spoke on "Obama's Health Care Plan: Making Sense of New Reforms," and described to attendees the current status of the proposed plan, major points of interest to the optical community, the potential impact of the reform, and the preparations ECPs can make.