Let’s talk about Bio International Convention 2022

Our CEO and Commercial Director were lucky enough to travel to San Diego last week to attend Bio.

As events continue to return with a bang our team and several clients were keen to hear about Bio and our thoughts on attending and exhibiting, so we’ve pulled together this simple summary to share our thoughts.

Location, location, location

Bio’s location was fab. The event space was close to all the main hotels and the centre of San Diego, making travelling to and from the event convenient and stress-free. The weather was also amazing, which made the whole event seem slightly less formal than others. 

Quality over quantity

The event itself was good but the team is not convinced there were 10,000 people in attendance. Having travelled over the weekend from the UK our team found Monday particularly quiet since lots of domestic flights had been cancelled, which packed attendance into the middle days. Day 2 and 3 (Tuesday and Wednesday) were busier and much better from an attendee point of view. However, our contacts and some journalists reported that Thursday (the last day) saw the event space virtually empty. This suggests that the event could be condensed into fewer days and would mean less time out of the business for delegates and exhibitors alike.

Where are my people?

Bio is heavily focused on pharma and investors and has grown a reputation for this. Promoted as the world’s largest gathering of leaders in the biotechnology and life sciences industries it did seem to prioritise partnership building, leaving the contract service and ingredients space (basically everyone else) lower in priority and physically pushed into a small space at the back of the exhibition hall with limited presence. 

Feedback from exhibitors was mixed. Many of the companies the team spoke to said they were there to raise visibility and for presence more than anything else. It will be interesting to learn how they measured this and assessed it in terms of success?

Pay to play

The networking events appeared to be very well received with the majority of attendees visiting Bio specifically for them. You do have to pay for each event – so make sure you factor the cost into your events budget if you plan on sending people along.

Bio did attract some big hitting celebs to deliver its keynote address – Seven-time Grand Slam singles champion, four-time Olympic gold medalist and entrepreneur Venus Williams and Emmy-nominated Sportscaster Erin Andrews who pulled in the crowds.

Each day offered a different agenda with something for everyone – from networking receptions to professional development courses and company presentations. 

It’s all about scale

The events space was filled with lots of country pavilions that were very focused on partnering and investing in the various territories. Large booth spaces were slightly lacking and our team only recall seeing a big presence from certain players. Most of the booths were small and located at the sides of the central exhibition hall. 

If in doubt offer snacks

Overall the event lacked clever booth tactics. The Fujifilm booth offered coffee and since the refreshments at the event were terrible they literally had people queuing for coffee each morning! Other company booths had virtual reality headsets and some cute merchandise but nothing groundbreaking.

Messaging

The key talks and the majority of booth designs centred on sustainability, purposeful messages aimed at biotech, full-service offerings and global expertise.

Looking for leads

Finally, whilst the partnering system was good, everyone our team spoke to had the same experience – lots of effort for very little return. We didn’t manage to secure as many meetings as we’d hoped, and for the investment, we didn’t generate any good leads – so from an ROI perspective, Bio is one we will review before deciding whether to attend in the future.

On the plus side, the meetings were good and both the event app and room booking system were useful. 

Lots of people not from the area had booked holidays and long weekends after the show, so there was lots of excitement about travel and extended stays, which many attendees saw as a positive. 

Like all events, Bio had its good and bad points. 

If you’re involved in pharma and the investment space then it’s probably worth your time and investment to attend, or if your goal is purely to build presence. For those in outsourcing and contract services with a focus on networking and lead generation, it’s probably best to review your options and explore other events to ensure you achieve the best use of your budget.