London-based Informa plans to buy HIMSS global healthcare conference

London-based events firm Informa is exploring a deal to buy one of the largest health IT conferences as competition in the healthcare events market heats up.

Informa Markets, a division of the business-to-business publishing and events company, announced it has exclusive rights to acquire the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's trade show, the HIMSS Global Health Conference and Exhibition, according to the company's six-month financial report issued Thursday.

An Informa spokesperson confirmed the exclusivity agreement via email. HIMSS has not responded to a request for comment or confirmation.

The news was first reported by HIStalk and publication Trade Show Executive.

The HIMSS 2024 Global Conference is slated for March 11-15 in Orlando.

A potential deal comes on the heels of Informa's acquisition of Tarsus, which owned and operated a portfolio of more than 160 live and on-demand business-to-business event brands, and Winsight in May that significantly expanded its position in the business-to-business foodservice market with shows like the National Restaurant Association Show and Hotel-Motel Show, TSE reported. The company also announced the acquisition of Canalys within its tech research business.

Informa, the largest owner and operator of business-to-business events, reported 2022 revenue of $2.8 billion (£2.4 billion). In its latest report, Informa said it brought in £1.5 billion in revenue, up 53% year over year.

In its report, Informa cites that the HIMSS conference is a "top 30 US Trade Show" that attracts 35,000 healthcare professionals from more than 90 countries each year, including physicians, nurses, analysts, government officials, investors and technology partners.

"It is a major B2B trade show, combining 1200+ exhibitors and more than 200 specialist education sessions to provide specialist market access and rich content and insights into the latest trends and innovations in Healthcare information and technology," Informa said in its report.

HIMSS reported that total attendee registration at the 2023 Global Conference, which took place in April, hit 35,000, up 21% from 2022 attendance, Healthcare Innovation reported. The conference had 1,000 vendors exhibiting this year.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic that hit the U.S. and the world in March 2020 and caused the total cancelation of HIMSS20, HIMSS19, held in Orlando, had achieved an attendance figure of over 43,000, Healthcare Innovation reported.

The potential deal to acquire HIMSS comes as the conference faces increased competition from new players. HLTH launched its first healthcare conference in Las Vegas in 2018 and that event has rapidly grown. HLTH then partnered with the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) to launch a new digital health event, ViVE, last year.

HIMSS canceled 2020's global health conference just days before it was slated to start due to concerns about COVID-19.

HIMSS organizers took a lot of heat on social media and from attendees for planning to go ahead with the conference under the shadow of pandemic fears. Others were frustrated that HIMSS canceled the conference so late.

At the time, HIMSS originally announced no refunds, which drew a lot of ire from exhibitors and registrants. Attendees and exhibitors complained about a lack of communication from HIMSS organizers and a lack of available refund options.

HIMSS then adjusted its policy and announced in April that it would provide partial credits for the HIMSS21 and HIMSS22 events.

The Chicago-based organization settled a lawsuit in early 2021 brought by show exhibitors who complained that they received no refund when the show was called off.  In the class-action suit, companies alleged HIMSS committed a "cash grab" by canceling the industry trade show and pocketing the show fees. The organization agreed to pay $2.8 million to settle the lawsuit.