If not for the boring speeches, tedious business meetings and PowerPoint-driven education sessions, healthcare conferences could be a blast.
When in Chicago, why not face the local music?
In fact, some meeting organizers recognize this and go all out with side events, tours and field trips. But no one does it quite as big as the Radiological Society of North America, whose conference materials included an 11-page "Tours and Events" brochure (PDF).
The program, sponsored by Bloomingdale's, included such events as concerts by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera and the Vienna Boys Choir; various sightseeing tours (conducted in English and French); a progressive dinner featuring stops in Italian, Mexican and Greek restaurants; and, of course, shopping—including an "Intimate apparel fit event" and a "Little black dress event" at which attendees could “Learn all about the importance of the Little Black Dress and how to accessorize it for every event and every occasion.”
Event prices ranged from between $20 and $140, with the most expensive trip being a ticket to see the Broadway musical "Memphis." There was something of a Memphis theme in the program, as another theater option was a performance of "Million Dollar Quartet," which recreates the one-time-only gathering of Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley at the Sun Records studio in Memphis on Dec. 4, 1956.
Unfortunately, this Memphis emphasis put a spotlight on how the city of Chicago and the tourists it attracts neglect one of the cradles of modern music—the old Chess Records building at 2120 S. Michigan Ave., just seven minutes away (according to Google Maps) from the McCormick Place convention center where the RSNA conference was held.
While the Chess building is open for tours, to get an idea of the potential that's being wasted, go see what Memphis has done and please visit the Sun Studio and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. And I do mean "please visit"; don't just click on the links.
Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks.
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.