By Shelley R. Wells, BAS, BS, RT(R)(CT)
As I sit in the Denver airport awaiting my flight home, I can’t help but catch myself staring outside to get the last glimpses of the beautiful Rocky Mountains in the distance. It’s not often that this southern girl gets to experience such breathtaking landscapes filled with snow-capped mountains. The scenery isn’t the only thing I lament saying goodbye to, but also to a fabulous team who have become more like a family to me over the years. It is this time of the year that the Annual Meeting Design Team (AMDT) comes together at the chosen meeting site to collaboratively plan the summer conference. Many months of pre-planning have already taken place in preparation for this weekend from organizing the members of the team to numerous hours reviewing keynote videos and conducting telephone interviews with potential speakers. This year was no exception as the AMDT members and I, along with AHRA President Bill Algee, AHRA Deputy Executive Director Jay Mazurowski and colleagues from Conference Managers all traveled across different time zones to deliberate on meeting details.
The team got right to work upon arrival starting with a tour of the brand-new Gaylord Rockies. Typically, the team has an opportunity to see the venue in full swing and get a taste of the experience that we want to bring to the attendees; however, this Gaylord property was still a few short days away from its grand opening. But in true Gaylord hospitality, they did not fall short on helping us create a picture of what was to come in the future. Much thought was put into the design of the convention space, entertainment and food areas, as well as the comforts of the hotel rooms and other amenities. This is a great destination for both business meetings and family escapes, with natural architecture and accents that give you a sense that you are immersed in the Colorado landscape, especially with the grand Rocky Mountains in view as the backdrop in many of the gathering areas. New and innovative ideas have been incorporated in the food and beverage options to entice foodies and sports fans alike. A surprise encounter with the VP of Gaylord entertainment resulted in a first-hand explanation of the largest LED screen in the US that will be housed in their multi-level sports bar. Another exciting sneak peek into this new venue is that this property is the only one in the Gaylord fleet with a lazy river. Attendees and vendors will equally be thrilled to know that most of the meeting space is on one level and very close in proximity to the exhibit hall. Our tour ended with a feeling of great anticipation as we imagined our members jumping into the exhilarating conference experience ahead.
Stepping back into the cool, crisp Colorado air snapped us quickly back into reality and to the task at hand – planning the meat and potatoes of the conference. The biggest questions to be answered by the team were what industry trends are the most important and relevant to bring to leaders and how to package it into a conference that is both educational and inspiring. Nearly a hundred speaker submissions and interviews were reviewed (a quick thank you to all speakers/industry experts who invested time to submit a proposal for the annual meeting). Detail was taken to narrow down the selections to include a wide variety of content such as leadership, patient experience, regulatory affairs, coding and employee engagement to name a few. The topics chosen will provide seasoned and upcoming leaders an opportunity to expand their knowledge and bring back useful tools to enhance their leadership, improve departmental efficiencies, and stay up to date on impending changes in regulations and accreditations. Also on the agenda was to determine an outstanding keynote line-up that would engage the audience and propel them with energy and positivity throughout the conference. Three promising candidates were identified with contracts going out shortly to confirm these gifted communicators. Now what is a convention without the numerous networking opportunities? The team brainstormed on ideas to enhance the networking experience, not only with other meeting attendees but with leading imaging vendors. The golf tournament, first time attendees and president’s receptions will be returning along with three days of exhibits to connect attendees with vendors. In AHRA fashion, the AMDT team has come up with a rockin’ final party theme sure to get everyone on their feet to celebrate another conference success.
There is still much work to be done in the months leading up to this July, but the AMDT team is confident that the planning is on point to offer another quality and memorable AHRA Annual Meeting; one that will provide value to you as an industry leader as well as the organizations you serve on a daily basis.
Catch the excitement that we all have experienced this past weekend and save some money too, by taking advantage of the Early Bird special for the AHRA 2019 Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado. If you can’t purchase your registration right now, lock down the July 21-24 dates on your calendar because you don’t want to miss this opportunity!
Shelley R. Wells, BAS, BS, RT(R)(CT) is a system engineer at Technologix Group LLC. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.