An American in Koeln – Views from the International Dental Show 2013

Editor’s Note:  Unfortunately I was unable to attend the IDS this year.  Very fortunately, my friend & colleague, Matthew Petchel, is in attendance and will be sharing his views from the show here over the next several days. 

IDS Concourse

Held every two years in picturesque (and chilly this year) Cologne, Germany, the International Dental Show is the biggest and most-talked about dental trade show in the world. This is where manufacturers, dentists, international distributors and key people meet to celebrate the industry and the people in it. A mentor in the industry told me a few years back that if you really want to be ‘in’ this industry, you have to come to the IDS. Think of the IDS like the Detroit Auto Show circa 1950. Except Cologne has a working government, running water and there aren’t any houses on fire.

IDS Stand 3Shape

Now you’ve probably been to a dental trade show in the US before. And the IDS is just like that, except it’s completely different. Sure there are manufacturers and dentists and speakers and product launches and free giveaways, but the sheer magnitude of the IDS grabs you by the eyeballs. At more than 500,000 square feet of exhibit space, it’s roughly the size of downtown Seattle. Seriously, there are a lot of people (some estimates say 20,000 per day) and a lot of exhibitors. But the main thing I always notice is the festive atmosphere that surrounds the show. The energy is amazing and people are zipping about, deals are being done, espresso is being slurped, and new products are being launched by companies you have never even heard of. Which makes for a unique experience. Without a doubt, it’s really cool and a sight to be seen.

Like most trade shows, different people come for different reasons, but everyone shares one thing in common –  a love of the dental industry. That’s what connects us. And the fact that you never know what could happen at the IDS. I remember two years ago I had dinner in 100-year-old family restaurant with a single bowling lane in the basement (thanks Suni). Four years ago, I ran into an old German client and we drank Kölsch 6 ounces at a time until late at night talking about that brilliant ad campaign management was afraid to run. Six years ago, a group of clients and I ended up at a party with 2,000 people dancing to Bon Jovi’s Living On A Prayer. Clearly anything can happen and it serves to bring us closer together to the people we work with (or used to work with or want to work with).

One thing is certain at the IDS – the days are long, and the nights go by fast. So you have to be prepared for the electric energy and excitement that comes with it. The good news is, you have two years to rest up for the next one. No more excuses – make 2015 your year to experience this for yourself. Rock on.

Next, I’ll report on new products being launched at the IDS.

About the author:  Matthew Petchel is a creative communications professional with over 20 years of experience, on countless projects, in just about every area of marketing communications – video, search engine optimization and marketing, research, marketing & advertising, design, branding, media relations, strategy development and more.  You can connect with him via  


About jmichaeldunn

A self-proclaimed "dental geek", I am passionate about the dental industry, oral health, and dental technology marketing. I have spent the last decade in various marketing capacities for dental technology companies. I enjoy talking about dental marketing with just about anyone and helping companies grow through developing innovative and integrated marketing communications campaigns.
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1 Response to An American in Koeln – Views from the International Dental Show 2013

  1. Pingback: An invitation to share your story | The Dunn Show

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