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Design | 25th November 2015

Managing MEDICA – the Onyx Health quick guide

Read Time: 4 minutes


Four days in Dusseldorf, more than 130,000 visitors and around 4,900 exhibitors from over 70 countries – it must be MEDICA.

Spread across 19 halls in the Messe Congress Centre, the world’s largest medical trade fair is not for the faint hearted.  You need comfortable shoes, deep pockets and the patience of a saint.  So why go?

Massive Opportunity

I went to MEDICA 2015 (16-19 Nov) on behalf of Onyx Health to explore the kind of healthcare businesses that risk money and sanity to benefit from this massive networking and sales opportunity.

If you’re a medical device or diagnostics manufacturer, MEDICA is an effective way to connect with international distributors.  This is one of the most common reasons for attending the conference, and it’s a popular choice among healthcare SMEs.

Have a plan

Many companies, as sophisticated as they may be, still hang out hand-written or hastily printed signs saying “distributors wanted”, but that tactic isn’t enough to guarantee success.  As I made my way around, I found that many companies were engaged in pre-arranged appointments with potential business partners.  Being organised is therefore key at MEDICA.

For my trip, I contacted potential clients in advance to check they were attending and booked some time to see them.  In my case, I was selling the services of Onyx Health.  We want to grow healthcare SME businesses, help with commercial strategy, and ensure their healthcare marketing communications are effective.  While this is undoubtedly useful, we can be at cross-purposes with exhibitors.  Some companies send a team specifically geared for selling, not to be sold to.

Do your research so that you meet the right people, in the right place, at the right time.  Interrupting a business deal is not a good way to charm a new client.  The MEDICA website has a search portal for registered users.  This helps you to see who is attending from each company, to ensure you target the key decision makers. The conference guide also tells you where their stand is located – remember there are 19 huge halls.  Making contact in advance helps you know when they will be free to talk.

Don’t get distracted

It’s worth putting time aside just to get your bearings.  If you’re passionate about all things medical, it’s going to be like going to Hamleys as a child.  You’ll get a neck ache to match your throbbing feet as the various, glamorous stands turn your head.

Stand out

There are also plenty of sorry looking stands too.  At Onyx Health, we’re good at making a modest events budget go a long way, so there’s no excuse for having a poorly presented stand.  Exhibition stands give credibility, draw interest and sell your brand.

When you get tired of traipsing the halls, you can rest your weary legs and catch up on research developments and industry news at one of the many seminars taking place.  Brush up on your German though, as many of these aren’t translated.

Eat clever

Nothing works up an appetite like a conference.  Food is within easy reach at MEDICA, but you need to prepare for queues.  And it helps if you’re a fan of sausage, bread and potatoes.  No problem in my case.  The price of the water and coffee makes the food look good value, and my advice is to eat outside of the usual lunch and dinner times.  This helps you avoid standing in confusing lines of bewildered international sales executives trying to eat a bratwurst, balance a beer, and take a phone call at the same time.

Book early

Another benefit of being organised is booking early.  Whether you’re arranging exhibition space or just visiting, prices are better in advance.  Dusseldorf’s hotels take a shameless approach to pricing during the conference, with nightly rates to make your eyes water.  These opportunist prices are no guarantee of swish accommodation either, so book early to get the best price and the best lodgings.

From robotic arms to sharps bins, and from massage beds to disease diagnostics, MEDICA is a showcase for the newest developments and trusted staples of the medical technology market.  It’s not possible to see it all in a couple of days.  It’s not possible to get a freebie from each stand – 4,900 pens and 250,000 calories of free sweets is too much for your luggage allowance and waistline.

To manage your trip effectively, here are my top 5 tips for MEDICA visitors:
  • Book far in advance – this includes your ticket, your hotel and your meetings
  • Have a strategy – know who you’re going to visit and where they’re located
  • Take a colleague – you can see more people and cope better with the scale of the task in hand
  • Use the public transport – it’s free with your MEDICA ticket, clean, and easy to navigate
  • Don’t forget your business cards – this is the international currency of business networking
And here are my top 5 tips for MEDICA exhibitors:
  • Planning is key – negotiate a space relevant to your specialism and country
  • Invite guests – don’t wait for footfall, when you can arrange meetings and prepare in advance
  • Join the discussion – use social media to connect with the MEDICA press team, as well as attendees, so that people know you’re there
  • Looks count – get your stand in order. Size doesn’t matter, but make sure it’s eye-catching, consistent with your brand and replete with eager staff, interactive information and a few freebies.  Hide your coats and bags, eat lunch elsewhere and don’t crowd the customers
  • UK Trade & Investment offers support for UK businesses attending MEDICA, with one-to-one meetings and country experts from around the world. Visit their events portal

For more advice on events planning, sales strategy and exhibition stands for healthcare SMEs, device and diagnostic manufacturers, you can contact Onyx Health on +44 (0) 191 640 3638 or email

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