ProMat vs MODEX: Which One Should Your Team Attend?
If you work in the warehouse, order fulfillment, or supply chain industries, then it’s a safe bet that you have attended or regularly attend any of a number of trade shows. And it makes sense why: Attending trade shows is a great way to stay abreast of developments in your industry, develop relationships with strategic partners, and even identify business opportunities.
But attending trade shows certainly isn’t cheap, and executives want to know that they are getting a good return on their investment by sending their team to the shows. That might make it easy to write off smaller shows, or those that are directed towards a niche that you don’t operate in, but what about when it comes to the bigger shows?
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Case in point: MODEX and ProMat are two of the largest trade shows targeting the supply chain and order fulfillment industries. Happening on alternating years, many companies will send a team to both shows. But other companies wonder, and with good reason: Does one of the shows better fit the needs or focus of my operation? Should I be attending both shows, or can I get more out of my budget by prioritizing one over the other?
Here, we discuss the key differences between MODEX and ProMat to help operations managers and executives decide.
Differences Between MODEX and Promat
Both ProMat and MODEX are organized and operated by the Material Handling Industry (MHI). The shows take place on alternating years, with MODEX falling on even-numbered years and ProMat falling on odd-numbered years.
The goal of both shows is to help connect professionals in the materials handling, distribution, and supply chain industries—with potential partners and business opportunities as well as with new technologies and thought leaders that can help them improve their operations’ performance.
As such, hundreds of exhibitors and tens of thousands of attendees converge on the conference that takes place that year. Though they are similar in many regards, there are certain key differences between MODEX and ProMat that you may want to consider before committing to attending one over the other.
Of the two, ProMat is the older trade show, dating back decades. It has traditionally been focused on materials handling and distribution. MODEX is a more recent addition, having begun only in 2012.
MODEX was, originally, intended to be focused specifically on the supply chain and the role that it plays in material handling and distribution, giving it a broader scope than ProMat and also a wider potential audience.
That being said, the two shows have grown closer to each other in terms of focus as materials handling, order fulfillment, and the supply chain have continued to become more and more entwined.
Another key difference between ProMat and MODEX is the fact that they take place in different locations. ProMat has traditionally been hosted in the McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, while MODEX is hosted in the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Both cities are major transportation and distribution hubs, making them prime locations for trade shows catering to such a large national and international audience.
That being said, the distance between the two locations is substantial and may contribute to the cost of attendance. An operation in Alabama or Georgia, for example, could save a substantial amount of money (flights, hotel, etc.) and time by attending MODEX rather than ProMat. Similarly, an operation in Indianapolis would likely save substantial funds by attending ProMat rather than MODEX.
Between ProMat and MODEX, ProMat is the larger show, having been around longer and attracting more of a following. ProMat 2017, the most recent show, saw a record number of attendees—44,872 and 956 exhibitors—and it is expected that the show will set a new record in 2019. MODEX 2018, on the other hand, saw a still impressive (but smaller) 30,944 attendees and 924 exhibitors.
Because of this size discrepancy, it’s worth noting that, while both shows will feature product displays and moving parts that attendees can see up close to evaluate the potential value that they can add to an operation, ProMat typically has more products on display than MODEX.
But it’s important to note that MODEX was only begun in 2012, and that is has grown rapidly since the first show. From 2016 to 2018, MODEX attendance grew by a whopping 25%, and the show has twice appeared on the Trade Show News Network (TSNN)’s list of the fastest-growing trade shows: First in 2014 and then again in 2016.
So while MODEX is currently the smaller of the two shows, it is expected to catch up with ProMat in the coming years.
How to Choose Which Conference to Attend
As you can see, though there are differences between the two shows, they are far outweighed by the similarities. That ultimately means that which show you attend boils down to what you hope to get out of it.
If you primarily attend MODEX and ProMat in order to stay abreast of industry news and developments, then it certainly would not hurt to attend both. Similarly, if you attend in order to make connections, network, and to identify business opportunities, you may decide that it’s in your best interest to attend both shows. The fact that they occur on alternating years definitely helps to facilitate this approach, since you’ll only be paying to attend a single show each year.
On the other hand, if you are considering attending a show with the goal of connecting with a particular potential partner or business opportunity, then you’d be wise to ensure whether or not they are attending before you make any concrete plans. You can often find a list of attendees on each individual show’s website, but these decisions are sometimes made at the last minute, making it difficult to plan. In that event, you may want to connect with the company directly to see if they will be in attendance and get some time on their calendar.
And then, of course, there’s the possibility that you’re thinking about attending the show because you’ve got a specific need or project in the works, and you want to scope out the possible solutions. If that’s the situation you’re in, you can feel comfortable attending whichever show fits into your project’s schedule.