Post Con

A Streamlined Attendee Experience Is the Backbone at NASS

The North American Spine Society (NASS) held its 2013 Annual Meeting at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans on Oct. 9-12.

Thousands of spine-care professionals convened to exchange new medical findings and learn innovative techniques and procedures. “It is extremely rewarding to observe our attendees and exhibitors navigate the meeting,” said Jennifer Krsanac, CMP, NASS’s director of meeting services, “and utilize our offerings with complete satisfaction.”

With continually increasing attendance, NASS makes it a point to ensure that the housing and reservation process goes as smoothly as possible for Annual Meeting attendees, Krsanac said, because that “sets the tone for their overall meeting experience.” (Read our Pre Con profile of the meeting at The organization has also been successful in encouraging attendees to book within the room block by offering an affordable and competitive group rate. For the 2013 meeting, 66 percent of exhibitors and 31 percent of attendees stayed within the block. “This rate has consistently increased over the past few years,” Krsanac said. “It is our goal to continue this momentum and eventually capture 75 percent of each group within our block.”

NASS implemented kiosks for attendee registration in 2011, allowing delegates to scan a barcode and collect printed badges and other information in about 10 seconds — reducing lines for pre registered attendees from 20 minutes to just three. Next year, NASS plans to implement the kiosks for exhibitor badge pickup. “Each year,” Krsanac said, “we increase enhancements to further streamline the process.”

To increase networking opportunities, NASS arranged “table discussions” — 20 rounds of 10 people each — within the food-service area of the exhibit hall. Discussion topics included radiology, deformity, rehab medicine, exercise therapies, biologics, socioeconomics, and advocacy. “The major concern was being able to decipher if those at the table were truly discussing the designated topics,” Krsanac said, adding that NASS is in the process of revamping the program for the 2014 meeting. “Our attendees are consistently requesting additional time to discuss current topics with their fellow colleagues,” she said. “It is our duty to provide them the platform to meet and exceed their meeting needs.”

NASS made two surgical trucks available on the show floor that medical- and surgical-device manufacturers and other suppliers could rent for demonstrations and educational workshops. “Our exhibitors appreciate the opportunity to be able to provide product demonstrations and workshops without leaving the convention center facility,” Krsanac said.

And now Krsanac’s focus turns to NASS 2014, which will be held in San Francisco. “Our 2014 Annual Meeting brings forward improvements to the programming and flow for both the attendees and exhibitors,” Krsanac said. Instead of scheduling both ticketed educational programming and the technical exhibition opening on the first day of the conference, for example, this year NASS will dedicate one full day to education and the following day to the general meeting and exhibition. “This will provide our medical attendees with an increased opportunity for CEUs,” Krsanac said, “and our exhibiting companies with more exposure on the show floor.” 

Convene’s Pre-Con/Post-Con series asks meeting planners about their challenges and how they intend to address them (Pre-Con), and then circles back around after the meeting has occurred (Post-Con) to see how well they worked out.

Sarah Beauchamp

Sarah Beauchamp was formerly assistant editor of Convene.