Founded in 1902 and headquartered near Baltimore, Maryland, the American Urological Association is the leading advocate for the medical specialty of urology, with more than 22,000 members throughout the world. The AUA fosters the highest standards of urologic care through education, research, and the formulation of health policy.
Key to the association’s goals is its annual meeting, highlighting innovative, evidence-based education for urologists and urologic health care professionals. The AUA annual meeting is the largest gathering of urologists in the world, offering the latest advances in urologic medicine, new guidelines, and research. Each AUA annual meeting is spread over multiple venues, meeting halls, breakout rooms, preparation areas, remote televised demonstrations, and massive plenary sessions, and it is a massive logistical and technological undertaking. The association turned to ON Services to successfully manage all the key details from audio and video technology, to lighting, scenic design, speaker services and much more.
To get a sense of the challenge facing AUA every year, it’s only necessary to detail the scope of the association’s 2019 annual meeting in Chicago. It is, in fact, the complexity of the event which epitomizes why ON Services was the right partner to handle AUA’s logistical and technological infrastructure needs.
The AUA locale for 2019 was the massive McCormick Place convention hall, America’s largest. The convention center offers 173 meeting rooms, assembly seating for plenary sessions, and numerous smaller theaters. In addition to this immense meeting anchor facility, 17,000 AUA meeting attendees spilled over to two nearby facilities, the Marriott Marquis Chicago, offering 63 event rooms and 89,407 total square feet of meeting space, and the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place with its own 44,000 square feet of event space.
The technical logistics were daunting: For four days, the AUA planned to stage jam-packed interactive sessions across all these venues, including 67 presentations from podiums, 12 video sessions with a focus on interactive dynamic debates, and panel discussions of cases about practical clinical training and insight. The association scheduled more than 46 hours of general plenary session programming in McCormick Place’s massive connected ballrooms, as well as filmed broadcasts of surgeries and demonstrations to colleges, labs, and foundations around the world.
In addition to the technical aspects, the event had to be reliant on quick communications and services between venues. A close working partnership with Chicago’s various labor unions required experienced, dedicated professionals.
“The AUA’s annual meeting is typically intensely educational, with live demonstrations, surgical videos, and research findings, all reliant on expert AV technology and management,” says Shannon Delaney, senior account manager with ON Services, who oversaw the event. “This required, for example, everything from mounting large blended screens in the general sessions to demonstrate surgery techniques, to consistency from meeting room to meeting room so speaker services were flawless, to updating content and schedules regularly so they were always available to every attendee, and of course, constant coordination with our parent company GES, which handled all exhibitor needs.”
ON Services “flooded the zone” with technicians and managers to assure the AUA annual meeting met these and other challenges successfully.
With ease and accuracy, ON Services provided hundreds of screens, presentation database services, scenic backdrops, prep rooms, live video demonstrations, attendee and speaker content downloads, and other intensive logistical requirements to keep the meeting on track. All meeting rooms, as well as speaker ready rooms for rehearsals, were set up in an identical manner and staffed with computer techs to assure familiarity with equipment and calm nerves. A central database, contained all presentations, both for ready room rehearsals and live streaming to any meeting venue.
In addition to technicians, ON Services production managers were assigned as an additional layer of management for immediate communications and feedback with the AUA. Additional ON Services project managers were assigned to manage on site warehouses and a full-time driver was on assignment to quickly shuttle equipment from various locales, when needed.
“Lots of unexpected things can come up at any major convention or meeting, and the AUA event was one of the most complex,” says Delaney. “That’s why dedicated team members are on hand to address any logistical challenges. This allows us to overcome any issues while creating a seamless experience for our clients.”
Another important component of the AUA meeting was its 75 separate “in conjunction with” presentations, sponsored by major medical suppliers to urologists. Dedicated ON Services managers were assigned to make sure these presentations came off flawlessly.
Delaney and her key managers escorted the AUA board members throughout the event and said they were “thrilled” the annual meeting came off without a hitch. Speaker and content management, preparation, audiovisual needs, lighting, backdrops, coordination with outside vendors and partners, and more for this intensely complex event—entirely education-driven and reliant on well-executed presentation technologies and aesthetics—contributed to the Associate Executive Director’s assessment that Chicago 2019 was one of the AUA’s least stressful and expertly managed annual meetings.
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