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Talk about double-dipping

I just heard today that at least two medical societies have been doing something a little extreme with their exhibitors: Making them pay surcharges to serve cappuccino, espresso, or smoothies at their booths. This was supposedly a sponsorship situation with four opportunities (two for cappuccino/espresso, two for smoothies) for exhibitors to pay thousands of dollars to serve these beverages to those who come to their booths. Only those lucky four exhibitors who pay can serve the stuff at their booths.

I’ve always thought that, as long as you abide by the organizer’s and exhibit hall’s rules (and, of course, the FDA’s), how you market your products is up to you, and most everybody offers something to eat and/or drink. What’s next, a surcharge on bottled water? Hershey’s Kisses?

Enough of my ranting. The Healthcare Convention and Exhibitors Association issued this statement in response:

    The Healthcare Convention & Exhibitors Association (HCEA) has issued the following position statement on healthcare exhibition policies that require exhibitors to pay a "sponsorship" fee to conduct marketing activities within their booths:

    "HCEA opposes any attempt by a convention organizer to place surcharges, which may be disguised as 'sponsorships,' on activities taking place or services being provided within exhibit booth space at healthcare conventions. HCEA believes this sets a dangerous precedent that amounts to double-charging exhibitors for marketing to convention attendees in space they have already purchased for that purpose. HCEA asserts that exhibitors should be allowed to conduct whatever marketing activities they like--within the organizer's rules for an orderly, fair exhibit hall--without those being subject to any additional 'sponsorship' surcharge."

    Eric Allen, Executive Vice President of HCEA, said, "Charging a sponsorship fee for an activity or service provided by an exhibitor in the exhibit booth violates the entire principle of an exhibit marketing booth. When an exhibiting company buys exhibit space, they are doing so for the express purpose of marketing to the association's attendees. For the association to add a surcharge to that activity is absolutely indefensible."

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