January 22, 2009
AVMA announces new strategy for annual meeting
Are conferences in trouble?
By: Timothy Kirn
For The VIN News Service
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) will limit the
number of cities hosting its annual conference to five locales
beginning in 2015.
Currently, AVMA rotates its annual meeting between three regions of
the country — the East, the West and Midwest — and varies the city.
But in April, the group is going to decide on five regional cities, each
of which will host the meeting twice between 2015 and 2024, said David
Little, AVMA’s director of Convention and Meeting Planning.
“The meeting has grown, and this is a strategic plan that has been in the works for several years,” Little said.
annual convention has gotten so large that it can no longer be
accommodated by mid-sized cities, and AVMA expects that it can
negotiate advantageous deals by promising a location that it will get
to host the convention twice, Little said.
considered include Boston, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Chicago,
San Antonio, Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The plan is to
rotate the meetings between the five geographic regions to make the
travel burden equitable for veterinarians in every part of the country.
year, the annual convention drew about 7,900 attendees. That attendance
figure was less than the figure in 2007, when the convention held in Washington DC drew a
record 10,339 attendees. But Little said the 2008 attendance does not
appear to represent any kind of a significant trend because the meeting
was held in New Orleans, which may have given some pause, because it is
still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and travel
costs were up due to high oil prices.
Still, the association's new strategy comes at
a time when some say veterinary conferences could struggle in the near
future, at least in the short term.
Richard Alampi, executive
director of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association, notes that
the number of continuing education meetings has grown dramatically during
the years, and at some point those meetings are going to begin
competing with each other for show goers and sponsorship.
calendar of conferences around the country, complied by Veterinary
Practice News, lists 36 national- or regional-type meetings for 2009.
Some note that veterinary medicine has three major national
conferences — the AVMA Annual Convention,
the North American Veterinary Conference, and the Western Veterinary
Conference — where most professions have only one.
have occurred already, suggested Alampi, whose association sponsors the
regional Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference (ACVC). There is a sense among meeting
planners that the attendance growth they have typically seen no
longer can be expected.
“The word is that flat is the new up,” he said. “Obviously, the economy has had some impact on that.”
While ACVC had a 15-percent rise in attendance at its 2008
meeting, it had a 10-percent decline in attendance in 2007, the first slowdown
it had experienced in 19 years, Alampi said.
Others agree that
there might be too many shows for the companies that sponsor meetings
and exhibit. Corporate sponsorship helps make the meetings
financially viable, insiders say.
“We hear it at every single show, that there
are too many shows,” said Teri Kado, executive director of the
American Veterinary Exhibitors’ Association.
She and others
note that the economy is causing potential sponsors to be more tightfisted. She
said exhibitors aren’t skipping conferences, but they are becoming more
selective about how many people they send.
“I think the economy is just making us evaluate the shows a lot harder,” she said.
said his conference and the others are finding it more difficult to
secure “goodwill” grants, that is, general sponsorship from industry
for the meeting.
“The pie can only be divided in so many slices before it gets too thin,” he said.
Still, AVMA appears optimistic about its new strategy.
“We’re not concerned about limited attendance; we’re looking to grow the meeting,” Little said.
VIN News Service commentaries are opinion pieces presenting insights, personal experiences and/or perspectives on topical issues by members of the veterinary community. To submit a commentary for consideration, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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