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LIVE FROM RSNA 2012: The Global Recession and European Financial Crisis Seem to Cause an Attendance Dip

November 28, 2012
by Mark Hagland
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What might be behind a dip in overall attendance at this year’s RSNA Conference?

One of the more prominent conversation starters at this year’s RSNA Conference, sponsored by the Radiological Society of North America, and being held this week at Chicago’s McCormick Place, has been the apparent drop in attendance compared with last year, 2011. By Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 28, foot traffic on the exhibit floors was quite noticeably sparse in most places. But was this an actual drop-off in attendance, or only an apparent one? HCI Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland spoke on Wednesday with Steve Drew, assistant executive director for the scientific assembly and informatics, at the Oak Brook, Ill.-based RSNA to find out more. Below are excerpts from that interview.

Attendance seems down this year compared to last year, 2011. Can you share the latest numbers on this year’s conference?

We’re projecting to end up with around 53,000 to 54,000 attendees this week. Last year, we ended up with a little bit over 58,000 total. Our professional attendance dropped this year by about 2 to 3 percent; our spouse guest registration actually dipped quite a bit this year, but that’s largely due to putting a fee on that type of attendance. In terms of total overall attendance, we anticipate we’ll be down by about 5 to 6 percent.

Broadly speaking, do you have any thoughts on the cause or causes of the dip?

I just think the state of the economy globally is having a big effect on us. Two of our bigger countries, Italy and Spain, are down dramatically. And Greece is down also. We’re still coming in at about 38 percent non-North American attendance, compared to 37 percent last year. And we have about 137 countries represented this year, and I think we’re actually up a couple of countries this year over last year.

Do you have any thoughts about next year, based on global economic conditions or other factors?

We’re keeping our fingers crossed, and are certainly hoping for global economic improvement next year. But would be hard to predict that.