Editor's Note: As we count down to the 2013 California Dental Association Spring Session in Anaheim (April 11-13), I had the chance to sit down with Debi Irwin, CDA vice president of meetings and conventions, to talk about the show and her perspectives on attendance.
To read my post-2012 CDA show interview with Irwin, please click here.
Kevin Henry: How are the registration numbers looking for this year?
Debi Irwin: Our preregistration is tracking right along with last year’s numbers. It took a little while for the numbers to get there because this year’s meeting is held a month earlier than normal, so that had to click in people’s minds. Once it did, our numbers are similar to last year.
Henry: Speaking of the meeting being a month earlier, why is that?
Irwin: We book our meeting times according to space at the Anaheim Convention Center and we try to avoid other major meetings. We also have to look at hotel availability in Anaheim. This year, the dates fell in April. There was really nothing behind the earlier dates. It was just a confluence of a lot of other events and trying to avoid other conflicts.
Henry: Are you expecting the earlier dates to have an effect on attendance?
Irwin: No, we aren’t expecting the earlier dates to have a huge effect.
Henry: Last year, there wasn’t a fall CDA meeting because of the ADA being held in San Francisco. Will there be an effect on this year’s attendance with fall CDA back on the schedule?
Irwin: It used to affect us more than it currently does. In past years, we would see a 2% decline when ADA came to San Francisco, but we didn’t see that the last time it was there prior to last year (2007).
Henry: What are some of the enhancements you’ve made for this year’s meeting?
Irwin: We’re excited to be bringing in restorative speakers from Japan who will be presenting in their native language (it will also be simulcast in English). It will provide a different educational experience for many of our members. We also have a new mobile app that has some upgrades for attendees. For example, there is a mapping feature that will certainly help while navigating the exhibit hall floor. Also, there is a new Grand Plaza on the convention center campus between the Marriott and the Hilton. We will be having a party there on Friday night and all attendees and exhibitors are invited (with a ticket).