Resources were stretched at the new look Southern Regional Congress in early March, however Pete Haydon, CEO of Optometry Victoria said he is optimistic that changes can be made ahead of the 2017 Congress to ensure a smoother, more comfortable event.
Mr. Haydon always knew that moving SRC from Melbourne’s expansive and very expensive exhibition centre to the Pullman and Mercure Hotel in nearby Albert Park would be a challenge. However, he said, the move was essential to boost declining delegate numbers, better manage member’s money and reinvigorate the event.
He certainly achieved that target, with a significant increase in delegate numbers year on year (from 814 in 2015 to more than 870 in 2016) resulting in SRC bursting at the seams on the Saturday in particular. The high delegate count certainly tested the venue’s capacity and the strain on the Pullman and will drive further change ahead of 2017.
“We are delighted with the numbers SRC attracted, and with the high quality of the education program and the trade expo, which had strong traffic and an amazing energy,” said Mr. Haydon. “We had a fantastic careers expo – 120 students attended and with representatives from right across the profession exhibiting, we were able to show them all the opportunities available across optometry.” Mr. Haydon said the Congress dinner on Saturday night was “the best in years” with a great band and packed dance floor.
We will be undertaking a thorough review of what happened operationally and making changes for next year to ensure SRC remains the flagship CPD event for optometry in Australia
Mr. Haydon acknowledged that Saturday’s over-crowded lecture theatres were problematic and had a flow on effect when it came to moving people around the venue and catering. He said his team was able to increase seating for Sunday lectures and make logistical changes which meant everyone didn’t need to breathe in and out at the same time. Additionally, he said the venue has a great deal of potential to expand the size of lecture theatres to ensure delegate’s comfort in the future.
“Overcrowding, both in the lecture theatres and at the catering stations on Saturday was a real disappointment because it compromised the comfort and experience of our delegates,” said Mr. Haydon.
“While we were able to respond and improve the amenity significantly on Sunday, I acknowledged to those attending that we would only be able to make partial fixes on the fly. We will be undertaking a thorough review of what happened operationally and making changes for next year to ensure SRC remains the flagship CPD event for optometry in Australia.”
An impressive line-up of speakers presented at SRC 2016 including Professor Nathan Efron AC who presented the HB Colin medal lecture; Dr. Nathan Lighthizer, Dr. Jeffry Gerson, Dr. Nandor Jaross, Dr. Shanel Sharma and Associate Professor Mark Roth.