SANTA CLARA, Calif., March 1 - At the 2002 Genome Tri-Conference here, bigger isn't necessarily better.
The number of attendees at this year's meeting, which closes on Friday, grew 20 percent to approximately 1,800 from 1,500 last year, according to Michael Handy, senior exhibits and sales manager for Cambridge Healthtech Institute, the meeting's organizer.
But that's small pudding compared to the number of exhibitors, which swelled to 149 this year from 60 in 2001. The total square footage for the conference also increased, at least three fold, from last year's session at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.
To Garreth Hippe, enterprise sales account manager at InforMax, the Fairmont "is kind of a labyrinth. The halls were crowded." Which is a good thing.
This year, though, traffic is "lighter than expected, and we're right in front of the door," griped Bert Cummings, senior account executive at InforMax. Still, he said that "the number of leads is close to the same" as last year.
"It's like going to a party; if you're in a small room it seems like there's more people," observed Ann O'Donnell, trade show and event manager at Incyte. But all in all, she said, "the leads have been good, the quality of attendance has been good."
While the conference outgrew its space at the Fairmont, some of the crowding experienced in San Francisco may have contributed to greater interaction, according to Handy.
"At the Fairmont Hotel there was a lot more networking and one-on-ones," said InforMax's Hippe. "Here [in Santa Clara] people are picking up material and blasting on."
The ones that are sticking around, though, have something to sell--namely, themselves--rather than something to buy.
"There's a lot of people looking for jobs, a lot of people with dot-com backgrounds and software engineers looking to move to a new area, and to educate themselves [about genomics]," observed Cummings.
Next year's conference, which is under contract to stay here, will offer "a lot of changes to have more events in the exhibit hall," said Lisa Levine, marketing associate at Cambridge Healthtech Institute. This, she said, should help increase exhibitor traffic.