Managing this renowned leadership event is itself a lesson in leadership
The event | The Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association Leadership Conference is the industry’s premier leadership development event.
The history | The Charles Group has managed this conference since its inception in 1999.
The task | The HBA Leadership Conference is a multi-day, annual event held in a different U.S. city each year. When The Charles Group began running this event, attendance was a mere 110, but demand has since grown in subsequent years—topping 650 in 2009, and skyrocketing to over 1,000 attendees in 2010.
The event’s catapulting success has also brought serious challenges. The first is finding a venue every year, in a different city, large enough to accompany hundreds of guests, 18 concurrent sessions and 80+ exhibitors. With space needs far outweighing sleeping room, the HBA was faced with huge room rental expenses. The Charles Group successfully negotiated minimal room rentals and produced stellar conferences for this longstanding client. In fact, thanks to the seamless execution of this event, coupled with its cutting-edge leadership development content, the HBA Leadership Conference was named one of the top 100 leadership programs for women in the United States.
What we did | Site research and selection; negotiated hotel conference and exhibit space; contracted room blocks; managed the event budget; coordination of marketing and promotion; registration database management; supervised plenary sessions and workshops, including managing national speakers and industry panelists; coordinated with the sponsorship committee to provide key support in raising 50% of overall event budget; and managed the entire event onsite, including room set-up, audio-visual coordination and exhibit management.
When a meeting disaster strikes …
The Charles Group has managed this conference with great success for more than a decade. And although every major meeting can have its challenges, The Charles Group met a unique one at the 2010 HBA conference in San Francisco.
The morning of the event, at 4:30 a.m. to be precise, the hotel staff initiated a work stoppage, virtually eliminating all service staff. Just as The Charles Group staff was heading down to the conference area to begin work for the day ahead, they found hotel management scrambling to set up tables for over 600 HBA attendees. With the conference starting in a matter of hours, this was truly the perfect time to panic. But The Charles Group has a well-earned reputation for cool-headedness. The team immediately went into crisis management mode, working hand-in-hand with the client and hotel management to arrange for extra help to be brought in, and to tactfully alert all conference attendees of the situation.
Then, it was on to business as usual… at least for the meeting attendees. Behind the scenes, The Charles Group helped monitor the noise level of strikers, addressed housekeeping issues in public areas, increased security and stayed in constant communication with the hotel general manager and senior management.
With the exception of a few unmade beds, the event went on as scheduled, with the same high level of success as previous years.