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Conference planning prep

I had the opportunity to plan and participate in a three-day conference held in the fall of 2019 in the greater Los Angeles area. The purpose of the meeting was for surgeons from around the world to convene to discuss the latest developments in cancer research, surgery, and healing processes. While my job was to plan out their activities and meeting spaces, I had the opportunity to listen to the presentations. I took away just a small snippet of what was shared but it truly was fascinating. A definite shout-out to all of those in the medical world investing in our health and well-being.

When I was contacted to work on the itinerary for this group, the focus was on showcasing the geographical and entertainment features of Southern California. These guests were world travelers, so I had quite the undertaking to provide interesting venues. Under the guidance of the host surgeon, we selected The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens; Santa Anita Park; and Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the Caltech Institute of Technology. And we were not disappointed! The staff and care that we received at all three of our venues was wonderful. A great team to work with in getting every detail discussed, planned, and orchestrated.

When it comes to working on this type of project, I suggest several considerations.

1) Decide first on your central location. We selected the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles for its proximity to the airport, old Hollywood décor, and clusters of wonderful shops and restaurants offered during the guests’ free time.

2) Plan on one to two venues per day – no more. You do not want to overwhelm your guests with too many sites, etc. And there is nothing more tiring than having them get on and off the bus constantly during the day. So, while our meetings took place at the three major venues, we provided only two additional stops – the Autry Museum of the American West and The Gamble House (famous in the “Back to the Future” movie series). Providing a bit of old western and movie nostalgia lent itself to the Hollywood theme.

3) Make the day long – but not too long. Give your guests time to relax a bit each morning. Start the day at around nine and finish by nine. And its nice to plug in time before the dinner hour to give a couple of hours for guests to unwind, deal with business calls, etc.

4) Hire a quality transportation service. We hired Abraham’s Valet Parking and their team kept us on schedule – which is not an easy feat in Los Angeles traffic!

We started organizing this conference approximately 18 months prior. So just giving you a head’s up that to make it stand out for its creativity, the planning processes need to start long before the group gathers. And as Regina B. states in her review mention on our website at DiMadeline & Company, it is worth the investment to hire an experienced individual with expertise in conference planning to pull it off.

Photo provided by Craig Takahashi


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