A large, live meeting at Caesars Palace goes hybrid.
Every spring for more than 50 years, the Trauma, Critical Care & Acute Surgery Conference has been held at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. In 2020, it was canceled due to COVID-19. This year “our goal from the beginning was to hold a live meeting,” said TCC&AS Event Manager Mary Allen. But, in the landscape of an ongoing pandemic, Allen took the meeting into new territory, transforming what was a conference for more than 1,000 into a hybrid: 425 people attended the meeting at Caesar’s Palace April 12 to 14, 2021—and 467 attended virtually.
“Any attendee reluctant or not allowed to travel could choose the virtual meeting,” said Allen. “If attendees or faculty had late circumstances that precluded travel, we were flexible about converting registration to virtual.” She helped faculty who could not attend the live meeting to prepare presentation videos, then connected them for post-presentation Zoom discussions.
For the hotel, this was the first large live meeting since reopening after the shutdown. Safety was everyone’s top priority. “We worked hand-in-hand with chief planner Mary Allen, and with the health department, to create a safe experience for attendees,” said Caesars Palace Executive Director of Catering and Convention Services Lanette Myers. “Safety protocols included cleaning, social distancing, mask wearing, and serving individualized food and beverage portions.” Prior to reopening, hotel staff had extensive safety training, and live meeting protocols strictly adhered to the state of Nevada’s COVID mandates.
To accomplish social distancing, the live meeting was moved from a 25,000-sf ballroom—which in past years held 1,300 attendees—to a 50,000-sf ballroom seating 450 attendees theatre-style. Each attendee had their own conference table, with 6 feet of social distancing between tables. The exhibit hall accommodated 16 exhibitors with a one-way traffic floor plan.
“From the very first planning stages, Caesars demonstrated complete adherence to constantly changing safety mandates,” noted Allen. “We had to make significant changes in meeting space and general plans more than a few times, and the hotel staff worked tirelessly to accommodate the requirements. Throughout the conference, attendees and exhibit personnel expressed their appreciation for the attention to detail related to safety protocols, while still experiencing a live meeting that allowed social and scientific interaction.”
Get more of the inside scoop on May 25, when Allen shares the skinny on how she planned and executed the hybrid TCC&AS event on a CEMA panel discussion. Registration for the live broadcast is free.