Shawn Bryant is director of meetings for the Ambulatory Service Center Association (ASCA), a trade association for ambulatory surgery centers across America. Here, he discusses ASCA’s annual meeting and how a new mobile app personalizes the experience for members.
Q: Tell us about your annual meeting and its importance to your membership.
SB: Our annual meeting is the best place for members to get in front of people, to put a face to the names they talk to on the phone, the names on the website. They receive great education, they get to see new technologies in the exhibit hall, and it’s a great place for networking.
Q: What are some of the challenges of putting on this meeting?
SB: The biggest is trying to keep over 2,000 people, with their individual needs and tastes, happy. On the education side, we serve beginners to 10-year veterans, so we make sure session descriptions clearly state beginner or advanced, so they’re sure to get something out of it. People spend a lot of time and money to come to our meeting, and we want to make sure they get value for that.
Q: With that many attendees, how else do you personalize the experience?
SB: One of the newest things we’ve done is the mobile app that allows people to customize their schedule. It’s a great way to streamline education and it’s a huge success so far.
Q: How do you add value for exhibitors as well as the attendees?
SB: It’s a fine balance because they have completely different agendas. Attendees want education, but they also want to mix in the exhibit hall. The exhibitors want a lot of time in the exhibit hall. So, we have to find that balance of dedicated exhibit hall time. Every couple of years we’ll tweak it based on everybody’s needs. Another challenge is making sure that when attendees are in the exhibit hall, they’re actually focused on the exhibitors. We’ve actually gone to a smaller exhibit hall with fewer booths to keep that ratio more in line with what exhibitors like.
Q: What’s going on in the association booth?
SB: Free food and drink can only go so far, so we’ve started offering professional headshots. A lot of small ASCs don’t have the time or resources to hire a makeup artist and photographer to come out to their center and take pictures. And we have a caricaturist to give them something fun.
Q: How does Freeman help you accomplish your mission?
SB: It has been a true partnership. The Freeman team helps get our brand out in the general sessions and ensures that our logos are appropriate, that the graphics pop. They spice up our PowerPoints, help with signage, and come up with new sponsorship ideas like phone chargers. They always have great new ideas for us that we take into the meeting.
Q: Where do you want to take your meeting next year?
SB: We want to involve more technology. The days of lugging around a bag with your syllabus are going away, and we need to make sure that attendees are getting value but without putting so much on their plate that we scare them off.