Have you made your reservations for HIMSS12 yet? If you’re just starting to plan, you might not have noticed some quirks with the schedule and the venue this time around.
For one thing, the mega-health IT conference in Las Vegas is not at the massive Las Vegas Convention Center, but rather at the Sands Expo Convention Center and the adjacent Venetian hotel. Remember, the 2012 HIMSS conference was supposed to be in Chicago, but the organization switched it to Sin City a couple years ago after vendors complained about high costs at Chicago’s McCormick Place for HIMSS09. (The defection of HIMSS and one other large trade show actually prompted the Illinois General Assembly to legislate changes to some of the work rules at McCormick Place, after which HIMSS agreed to hold its 2015 and 2019 conferences there.)
The last-minute nature of the relocation is changing a lot of the dynamics.
I know that HIMSS has outgrown most of the convention centers in the country, to the point that only Las Vegas, Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans and Orlando can accommodate it, but the Sands was a surprising choice. Believe it or not, the Sands-Venetian claims to be the third largest convention facility in the nation, with 1.8 million square feet of exhibition and meeting space. However, many exhibitors will be put in Hall G, on the lower level, a 380,000-square-foot space with just a 13.5-foot ceiling height. The upper halls have 32.5-foot ceilings, so I’m guessing the downstairs space is going to seem awfully claustrophobic.
(On the other hand, the Venetian is a lot more luxurious than your typical conference hotel. Plus, I once saw Chuck Norris and his brother playing craps there. He graciously did not injure me.)
Also, HIMSS12 ends on Friday, Feb. 24, instead of the usual Thursday. When I booked my travel last week, I thought this meant HIMSS was adding an extra day to what already has become an endurance test. But I looked again today and noticed that everything has been moved back a day. The freakshow otherwise known as the vendor exhibition runs Tuesday-Thursday instead of Monday-Wednesday, and most of the preconference events, typically held on the Sunday prior to the start of the main conference, are set for Monday, Feb. 20. Alas, I’ve already booked my travel to arrive Saturday, and who knows what it will cost to change my plans? On the other hand, it gets me out of Chicago for an extra day in the winter.
Does anyone have any insight about this scheduling shift? Is it because of the venue change, or a result of the fact that Vegas hotels normally jack up the rates on Friday and Saturday nights?
Of note, though, the HIMSS travel service is a better deal in 2012 than in most years, based on my experience. Go through the official channel and you won’t pay more for staying a weekend night. You also won’t have to pay any resort fees at the many properties now adding this mandatory charge, and they’ll throw in free Internet access, too. That sealed the deal for me.