'Trick-or-treaters' viewed as yet another convention cost

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Among long-time exhibitors, they are known simply as "trick- or-treaters." These are the long-term care professionals who can be seen roaming exhibit halls with apparently just one goal in mind: loading up on as much free stuff as possible.

The trick-or-treaters seemed especially brazen at the recent annual meeting of the National Association Directors of Nursing Administration/Long-Term Care in Las Vegas. Some sported several bags loaded up with tchotchkes such as candy, pens, coffee mugs and more.
One shared her technique: "First, I find a booth that's giving away large bags. Then, I try to get at least three or four. After that, I want to fill them up with as much stuff as possible."
For many attendees, loading up on vendor freebies is a way to achieve several goals. Some are greeted as returning heroes at their facilities. Others see free merchandise as a sort of receipt of attendance. Still others consider the freebies a fair exchange for time spent visiting booths.
For most vendors, however, the handouts are usually viewed as yet another cost of doing business. And that cost continues to escalate. It's a rare exhibitor who can work a trade show for less than $10,000. Factor in booth costs, sponsorships, electricity, staff, hotel, transportation and other payouts, and a six-figure outlay is within easy reach. So dropping a few hundred dollars for freebies generally is seen as a small price to pay, especially if it helps lure prospects that generate sales.
"I don't mind handing out a pen or two," one vendor noted. "It's the people who try to scoop up everything they can grab that kind of ticks me off."
Vendors generally agree that physicians and nurses are among the most aggressive freebie takers.
"Doctors have been trained to expect free things. And they want the good stuff. Some have even asked me to ship items to their homes and offices," one drug rep confided.
"Nurses tend to be pack rats," he added.
Trick-or-treaters? Pack rats? That's hardly the way most long-term care professionals see themselves. But, some say, if the shoe fits (in the bag) ...