Starting Monday, June 13, thousands of professionals are going to be walking the floors of The Merchandise Mart in Chicago to see the latest and greatest in products for commercial spaces.
With over 1 million sq. ft. of space housing 500 companies under one roof, NeoCon is the largest exhibition of its kind in North America.
And while the primary focus of the show is on furnishings, fabrics, flooring, fixtures, and accessories for offices, there's pretty much something for everyone at NeoCon -- including those interested in seeing products for healthcare facilities and senior living communities.
And of course, as we all know, there's plenty of office spaces in healthcare facilities. The current trend of hybrid workspaces should make NeoCon very interesting this year.
Impossible to See Everything at NeoCon
No matter how you cut it, NeoCon is a tough show to work. The sheer size of the building (each floor is 200,000 sq. ft.) makes it impossible to see everything.
Walking those floors all day, fighting the crowds in the hallways and elevators makes your feet and brain hurt, too. But there are always parties and social events at night with free food and drinks that help ease the pain.
And while there are fewer companies with permanent showrooms in The Mart, it's still a lot of ground to cover. Navigating the temporary exhibits on Floor 7 can also be daunting -- because there are so many of them all in one place.
Make the Most Out of NeoCon
I was introduced to NeoCon in my first job as a communications coordinator in The Merchandise Mart's marketing department. Over the years, my career has evolved and changed, but I'm still in the commercial design field. Other than Covid year, I've not missed a NeoCon since 1982.
Here are my tips for making the most out of NeoCon:
- Make a list of the showrooms and booths you want to visit by floor. Select "healthcare" in the vertical markets tab on the NeoCon website to look for products in that market sector. Also, if you log in/register with the NeoCon Hub, you can personalize your NeoCon experience even more.
- Start at the top of the building on Floor 11 and work your way down to floors 10, 7, 3, and 1. That way, you can use the stairs if the elevators are too crowded. Walking down stairs is much easier than walking up.
- If you need to use the elevators, use the ones at the very end on the Orleans Street side of the building (left as you look at the building from the front). They are much larger than the ones in the middle and stop at every floor.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Even though this is a stylish crowd, leave the heels at home, ladies. And no matter what your gender identification is, don't wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. Your feet will be happier if you change it up.
- Dress in business casual. Dresses and suits are out. Nice jeans or pants, crisp shirts, and fun tops are in. Oh, and it's always freezing in The Mart during NeoCon because they bump up the air conditioning. So bring a sweater, nice fleece, or jacket if you don't want to be cold.
- Register before you get there. Unlike in past years, there is no fee for those who register onsite, but it's just easier to get your badge and be on your way if you're already signed up.
- Get plenty of sleep and don't forget to eat. Food and rest are essential to working a long day at a conference/trade show. For a quick bite during the day, there's usually food concessions on Floor 7 as well as a food court on the second floor, and random other restaurants/takeout food on the first and second floors -- however choices may be limited due to Covid's impact.
Also, don't forget to check out all the programming and events happening at NeoCon. While most go to NeoCon to see products, there are daily keynotes and special programs presented onsite and live streamed through the NeoCon Hub.
All CEU programming is virtual, running live during the event and on-demand through July 15 -- including four sessions in the healthcare track.
One More Tip: If you want to see some of the latest and greatest new healthcare furnishings, fabric, flooring, and more, check out the winners of the Best of NeoCon Awards competition, which will be announced Monday, June 13 at 7:30 a.m. CT.
Fun Fact: NeoCon originally stood for National Exposition of Contract (furniture). For more history, check out this 50-year retrospective of NeoCon.
P.S. Please do me a favor -- if you liked this post and like this blog, please share it with others by sending them the link and/or post it on your Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, etc. Also, don't forget to subscribe, so you'll get emails when new content is posted. Thanks!