Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

August 01 2014

Post-Con: Checking in With the SNMMI

By Michelle Russell

MEETING

The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) held its 61st Annual Meeting at America’s Center in St. Louis on June 7–11. Recognized as the premier educational and networking event for molecular imaging and nuclear medicine, SNMMI’s Annual Meeting attracts scientists, physicians, technologists, pharmacists, and laboratory professionals.

SNMMI’s Annual Meeting

2013 Vancouver
5,724 Attendees
173 Exhibiting companies (with 532 booths)

2014 St. Louis
5,365 Attendees
184 Exhibiting companies (with 519 booths)


CHALLENGES

When Convene first spoke with Catherine Michaels, CMP, SNMMI’s associate director of meeting services, she was concerned about attracting international attendees to a city in the Midwest. (Read our Pre Con profile of SNMMI 2014 at convn.org/SNMMI-14.) And while, as expected, there were fewer attendees — around 360 fewer — than last year’s meeting in Vancouver, the event “went exceptionally smoothly,” Michaels said.

America’s Center worked particularly well for attendees and exhibitors. “The layout is ideal for large citywides,” Michaels said. “The center is one contiguous hall, which really allowed great traffic flow. The exhibit hall definitely got more traffic [than last year]. We did not know that before walking in our site [visits] — how great the center was. It is honestly better than a lot of the first-tier-city centers.”

INITIATIVE

SNMMI typically has two plenary sessions, both of which feature subject-matter experts as presenters. This year, SNMMI broke with tradition to feature more of a “celebrity speaker” — author, reporter, columnist, and television analyst Jonathan Alter, who wrote the recent New York Times bestseller The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies — at the opening plenary session. Alter was chosen by SNMMI’s scientific program committee, Michaels said, because of his scientific background and the fact that “he knows a lot about the things that are going on in health care now, beyond Obamacare.” Alter’s session was so well attended and well received that SNMMI plans to include high-profile speakers at future annual meetings.

In addition to offering a few more education sessions this year (236 compared to 232 last year), SNMMI introduced digital posters, displayed on 10 digital plasmas at America’s Center. Also new this year: Participants could download two different apps — one for attendees and exhibitors, and one dedicated to abstracts, because the abstracts are no longer published in print. The apps proved to be popular, helped by the fact that SNMMI did a Wi-Fi buyout of the entire convention center.

“We put our director of IT in touch with the right facility person, and they worked very closely together on our needs. That was the first time for us doing that,” Michaels said. “It was an expensive thing to do, but our board and leadership thought it was important, so we implemented it. I think the apps were even better received because the free Wi-Fi was there and available for everyone.”

The only limit SNMMI placed on Wi-Fi was to block streaming in the common areas, because giving thousands of attendees that capability would have required too much bandwidth. “But other than that,” Michaels said, “attendees could get on the app, they could get on our site, they could download the abstract information, and they could get to their email.”

All in all, the only surprises in St. Louis were pleasant ones — including the historic Fox Theatre, which hosted SNMMI’s VIP President’s Reception and wowed those in attendance. “Just the most unique, beautiful venue,” Michaels said, “we have ever had an opportunity to host an event at.”

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UPCOMING EVENTS