Q&A: 10 Minutes with Zac Kelley of Zimmer Biomet

Zac Kelley, Manager Convention Services/3rd Party Industry Events/Demo Bank, Zimmer Biomet

You might compare Zac Kelley’s role as manager of convention services and third-party events for Zimmer Biomet, a medical technology provider of orthopedic care, to that of a head of an operating room. It involves planning and coordination, communication with internal stakeholders, vendor relationships, on-site setup and logistics, and post-event evaluations. And when it comes to connecting with surgeons and other health care providers at medical meetings and conventions, great care must be given to create an environment that differentiates the brand and tells clear and engaging stories about its innovations.

“Overall, my role as the convention service manager at Zimmer Biomet is focused on ensuring that all aspects of conventions and events are meticulously planned and executed to enhance the company’s brand visibility, drive sales and foster meaningful connections with customers and industry partners,” Kelley says.

His team’s “Intelligent Operating Room” interactive demo experience at last year’s American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons Annual Meeting caught our attention and that of our Experience Design & Technology judges, for its glass-walled demo zone with realistic operating room elements, and an overall booth vibe that felt less clinical and “tense” than what the attendees are used to in their everyday professional lives.

Here, we connect with Kelley to talk wins (including the Gold Award-winning “Intelligent Operating Room”) and 2024 trends.


Event Marketer: What’s an exhibit trend you and your team are seeing in your space?

Zac Kelley: One prominent trend we’re seeing in the exhibiting space is the integration of interactive and immersive experiences. Exhibitors are increasingly incorporating technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and interactive displays to create memorable and engaging experiences for attendees. These immersive experiences not only capture attention but also facilitate meaningful interactions with the brand or product being showcased.


Technologies or tactics that are helping to engage and measure better?

Advanced technologies are playing a crucial role in enhancing engagement and measuring the effectiveness of exhibits. Tools such as RFID badges, beacon technology, and mobile lead capture apps enable exhibitors to track attendee interactions, gather valuable data and personalize experiences. Additionally, AI-driven analytics platforms provide insights into attendee behavior, preferences and engagement levels, empowering exhibitors to refine their strategies and optimize their return on investment.


Describe a highlight for you from one of your recent exhibits.

We have had our most dynamic designs and use of space at the last two annual American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) meetings. I have a great team at Zimmer Biomet and I’m proud of the way we pushed our approach to deliver immersive experiences that showcase Zimmer Biomet’s emerging technology in the advancement of orthopedics, while also incorporating traditional display space for our diverse portfolio of solutions.


Biggest challenge the industry faces in 2024.

One of the biggest challenges we face in 2024 is continuing to navigate the evolving landscape of in-person events that are returning to previous attendee numbers, while also expanding our capabilities to deliver effective marketing in hybrid event formats. Ensuring a seamless integration between physical and virtual experiences poses a significant challenge as we integrate virtual components into traditional exhibitions. We, the exhibitors, must find innovative ways to engage both in-person and remote attendees, maintain brand consistency across platforms, and effectively measure the impact of our efforts in this hybrid environment.


What do you love about creating exhibit experiences?

The opportunity to bring brands to life in dynamic ways. Crafting an immersive environment that captivates and inspires attendees is incredibly rewarding. From conceptualizing unique themes to designing interactive elements, every aspect of exhibit creation allows for innovation and experimentation. Moreover, witnessing the excitement and engagement of attendees as they interact with the exhibit is truly fulfilling—knowing that we’ve succeeded in making a lasting impression by forging meaningful connections.


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Rachel Boucher
Posted by Rachel Boucher

Rachel joined Event Marketer in 2012 and today serves as the brand's head of content. Her travels covering the experiential marketing indust ry have ranged from CES in Las Vegas to Spring Break in Panama City Beach, Florida (hey, it's never too late)—and everywhere in between.
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