JUL 2018

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ J U L Y 2 0 1 8 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 20 MEDICAL & PHARMACEUTICAL MEETINGS Orleans earlier this year, with international attendees making up about 35 percent of the group. Because of the event's large attendance, the AAOS tends to rotate consistently through an established group of properties that are able to accommodate its specific meeting requirements. "Meeting location for the annual meeting is critical for the success of the meeting," said Susan McSorley, director of conventions, courses and exhibits for the AAOS. "Our selection is based on space in the conven- tion center to satisfy our meeting and exhibit requirements, as well as a broad range of hotel properties close to the convention center." McSorley said the AAOS relies heavily on the assistance of the local convention and visi- tors bureaus to make its events successful. "Convention center space is the first piece of the puzzle when hosting such a large event, followed by large room blocks at every hotel in the city," said Robert Reso, vice president of convention sales for New Orleans & Company. "Our compact footprint helps reduce shuttle transportation time, allowing attendees to spend more time on what's important to them." New Orleans has hosted countless medical meetings over the years, aided in part by its proximity geographically. "New Orleans is centrally located between East and West Coast cities, allowing attendees from all areas of the country to travel here relatively quickly," Reso said. "In addition, airfare to New Orleans tends to trail behind the national average for airline ticket prices and our climate is very appealing during prime contention months." AAOS's statistics indicate that its members attend the annual meeting every two to three years, which prompted the group to begin of- fering an OnDemand product for the first time this year. "It's always challenging for physicians to at- tend meetings," McSorley said. "This year, we captured and recorded the educational content to share with orthopaedic professionals who were unable to attend the meeting. We strive each year to provide new, relevant and valuable content, as well as networking opportunities for all our stakeholders." Incorporating Mobile Technology The 2018 Global Meetings and Events Forecast also reported that many healthcare providers, particularly those under the age of 40, priori- tize mobile technology when choosing which events to attend. Like the AAOS, the AHNA continues working to incorporate technology and social media into its events but recognizes that some attendees may not yet be comfortable with interactive options. To that end, the AHNA offers a mobile app for its annual event, as well as electronic and paper options for documents, and provides assistance to those who want help with the technology. Likewise, the ATL Airport District's Marriott properties offer a meeting service app that allows planners to manage their events at a mo- ment's notice and allows participants to track event offerings from their electronic devices. "All meetings are getting more tech savvy," Vencl said. "Planners are utilizing more apps and getting material to attendees via websites and apps." Malcom is working on a video for next year's conference in Tulsa that will familiarize nurses with the area prior to their visit. She frequently uses technology to draw attendees to the annual event by providing video footage of the areas' offerings in the months prior to the event. Malcom also hires a photographer to attend her events and provides free headshots to the nurses who attend. The AHNA emails the headshots to attendees with information about presenting themselves in a professional light when they submit articles or apply for jobs. Most of the medical meeting planners also provide the dates for the following year's event at the the current gathering so attendees can put the following year's event on their calendars. The large attendance at events also makes it necessary to plan well in advance. "The single most challenging aspect of hosting medical meetings is availability," Reso said. "The popularity of our destination often necessitates a longer booking window to secure the appropriate space and hotel package." McSorley credits innovation as the biggest draw for healthcare professionals. "It's important to be innovative at your meeting," she said. "Creating that 'wow' factor draws attendees and connecting people is important to make your meeting a 'must attend' event." n The AHNA participants like to connect with nature (photo from 2018 conference in Niagara Falls, N.Y.) AAOS Conferences require large facilities (photo from 2018 annual conference at New Orleans Convention Center.)

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