The American Optometric Association (AOA) unveiled St. Louis to 4,900 Optometry’s Meeting convention attendees in a most unconventional way. The experiential meeting, a first for the organization of doctors of optometry, optometric staff and students, was a mash-up of immersive “aha” moments that wowed the attendees and their families, all of whom found themselves caught up in the afterglow of the Stanley Cup celebrations.
As associate executive director – and perennial Blues fan – Renee Brauns not only wanted attendees to see the newly renovated AOA headquarters in Creve Coeur, but wanted them to experience the city’s inherently striking attributes from her perspective – as a St. Louis resident. After working with the AOA board to secure St. Louis as the meeting destination, and to build on the excitement of the city’s hosting capabilities, the AOA coordinated a two-day tour experience for 250 AOA volunteers five months prior to the June 2019 convention to enable them to become ambassadors for the annual meeting.
Event highlights even included a rollicking AOA kick-off “Block Party” featuring Clydesdales, aerialists, fire-breathers, food/beverage trucks, a locally-brewed “EYE PA” exclusively for AOA members, life-size foosball tables, arcade games and giant traffic-stopping inflatable eye balls.
The AOA team’s insightfulness left plenty of room for casually-attired events and free time to capitalize on the city’s countless kid-friendly attractions, museums, and restaurants. Attendees were elated to discover their accommodations and entertainment options were, literally, steps from their meetings and exhibit halls at America’s Center.
A first time to the city for many AOA members, the feedback from Optometry’s Meeting participants was immediate. From posts on social media to survey responses, attendees requested that St. Louis be added to the rotation of cities considered for future Optometry’s Meetings.
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