A Summary of Conference Planning Success: 19th International Vasculitis and ANCA Workshop
This past April, Albrecht Events executed the 19th International Vasculitis and ANCA Workshop in Center City, Philadelphia with Lauren Huezo CSEP, DMCP, at the helm. Hosted by the University of Pennsylvania, the four-day, biannual, international conference is the premier academic meeting in the field of vasculitis designed to address the interests of experienced clinicians and investigators as well as those new to the field. Albrecht Events was charged with planning the conference from start to finish, including all registration details, such as website design, payment information, registration desk and conference check-in; hotel selection; off-site social events with three separate themes; and printed collateral, including the coordination and publishing of over 500 medical abstracts.
Planning for the conference started with monthly meetings in January, 2017, and Huezo—Albrecht Event’s Manager of Special Projects—and the AE team were charged with finding the perfect city-based hotel that could not only serve as the home-base for over 500 guests, but could also accommodate larger programs and breakout sessions with ballrooms and smaller meeting rooms. Additionally, over 500 printed medical abstracts were to be hung in one space for the duration of the program. The Loews Philadelphia Hotel met all of the criteria; Huezo says, “Ultimately, the client liked the natural light and open feel of the Loews’ Millennium Hall for the poster room, instead of the standard windowless ballroom. And, we needed a hotel that could provide their full attention and exceptional customer service from the hotel staff so that the client could focus on networking with attendees.”
The program also included three off-site social events: a welcome reception at the Reading Terminal Market, a faculty dinner at the College of Physicians, and a gala dinner at the Barnes Foundation. Huezo says “The majority of our usual clients are not familiar with Philadelphia and we typically guide them in venue selection. In this case, the client is Philly based and therefore knew exactly where they wanted each event.” These events provided opportunities for the attendees to network and experience Philadelphia and—all for no additional cost to the guests.
The proximity of the Loews made the Reading Terminal Market a convenient choice for a casual welcome event that highlighted local flavors and featured live music. The “Spring Market” design concept relied on vibrant pops of orange and lime in linens that were a perfect base for unique floral designs of seasonal flowers and vegetables. The highlight of the evening was a performance by the Affordable Rock ‘N’ Roll Act comprised of band members who also work for the National Institute of Health (NIH), including Director, Francis Collins.
The aptly themed “Vintage Medical” faculty dinner at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia was inspired by the Mutter Museum numerous skulls and scientific oddities. After guests arrived via historical trolley, they enjoyed a cocktail hour in the Medicinal Garden featuring a signature Rhubarb Basil cocktail and passed options. Guests were able to take private tours of the museum and were escorted upstairs to Mitchell Hall for a seated dinner and guest speaker. A nod to the colors of Penn Medicine, the linens and custom menu cards featured navy blue and scarlet red.
The gala dinner at the Barnes Foundation closed the social aspect of the conference, and attendees were escorted by motor coaches from the Loews Hotel. Upon entering the museum, guests were greeted with a Blueberry Collins specialty cocktail and various passed hors d’oeuvres. The main court and Terrace were decorated in spring tones of yellow and blues with touches of gold in a mix of communal, lounge and cocktail tables. The watercolor linens were inspired by the brush strokes in the world renowned artwork adorning the walls of the museum. Guests were entertained by a string quartet of musicians playing a mix of modern and classic songs while enjoying eclectic dinner stations with French and Asian inspired cuisines. Guests enjoyed the outdoor terrace and its fireplace, access to the special photography exhibit, and full access to the complete Barnes collection.
Peter A. Merkel, MD, MPH, Chief of the Division of Rheumatology at the University of Pennsylvania and Director of the workshop shares, “Lauren and her entire Albrecht team were simply fantastic partners in the development and implementation of Vasculitis 2019: The 19th International Vasculitis and ANCA Workshop. Every aspect of the meeting reflected the high level of professionalism, competence, and creativity they bring to their work. They helped us host a meeting that was universally regarded as a great success and they brought into the process experience and resources to make this event special. This was a fairly complex 4-day meeting with over 500 attendees from 40 countries with busy scientific sessions and social activities. The whole meeting came in under budget and there were no problems with the logistics. Every member of the Albrecht team was a pleasure to work with and I would recommend them to anyone seeking professional assistance in hosting an outstanding event.”
Now that the dust has settled and the successful conference is in the books, Huezo reflects, “I enjoy the process of seeing an idea blossom into this large-scale experience for attendees after months or even years of meetings and thoughtful planning. To do conferences of this scale in a city I love to people who are at the top of their industry around the world is rewarding as much as it is challenging.”