Column | Leadership

Innovative venue sourcing: Minnesota Chapter hosts event at business partner facility

Column | Leadership

Innovative venue sourcing: Minnesota Chapter hosts event at business partner facility

Like most chapters, HFMA’s Minnesota Chapter typically hosts its conferences at a hotel or other event venue. This year, however, was different.

That’s because Minnesota HFMA teamed up with a business partner to try something new. As a result, attendees of the Chapter’s 2022 Winter Institute and Women’s Conference, which took place March 3-4, didn’t gather in a ballroom or banquet hall but rather at RSM’s offices in downtown Minneapolis.

“Like many chapters, our budget is tight,” said Hannah Wieshalla, CHFP,  MBA, the Chapter’s president and senior director of quality improvement and network support, population health, at CentraCare in St. Cloud, Minn. “We were trying to find a way to still offer our event but lower the expenses when Nick Ward, our Chapter program chair and a senior manager and health care audit policy leader at RSM, noted that his company had recently remodeled their Minneapolis office.”

Image of Hannah Wieshalla

Minnesota Chapter President Hannah Wieshalla says the Chapter would “absolutely” consider teaming up again with a business partner to host a conference.

TRYING SOMETHING DIFFERENT

Minnesota HFMA ultimately accepted RSM’s offer to host the two-day event, marking the first collaboration of its kind for the Chapter.

“Our outlook on life tends to be ‘glass half full’ with these kinds of adventures,” said Wieshalla. “So we were excited about the potential.”

Wieshalla said the main goals were to explore a different kind of collaboration between a chapter and a business partner and how both organizations could benefit from such an arrangement. From the Chapter’s standpoint, she said that meant being able to bring people together once again, but in a more cost-effective way.

The collaboration also enabled the Chapter to host a hybrid event since RSM had the necessary technology. This capability was important given that the Chapter supports the entire state of Minnesota.

“We need to think about our outstate members and how we continue to engage them in our events without breaking the bank,” Wieshalla said. “This collaboration offered that opportunity.”

INVOLVING OTHER BUSINESS PARTNERS

Moving forward with this different type of hosting partnership also provided the Chapter with the challenge — and the opportunity — to think about its other business partner relationships. That included figuring out how to ensure all partners felt valued.  

“Our goal was to provide our other valued business partners with access to the same great conference that we’ve historically had in a different place,” she said. “That meant booth availability in a new space and continued access to filling the agenda with the great speakers and content our business partners have to offer.”

So while RSM was the location sponsor, other business partners were invited to sponsor keynotes, breaks, lunches and networking activities. All sponsors were recognized via event signage, speaker introductions and emcee announcements.

TAKING STOCK

Total attendance for the two days was 120 — 75 at the Winter Institute and 45 at the Women’s Conference. Wieshalla said attendees appreciated having both events in the same location as well as the fact that the RSM site is close to hotels and connected to the Minneapolis Skyway, a critical feature during the Minnesota winter.

“This was the first time in two years we’d had these conferences,” said Wieshalla. “We were incredibly happy with the turnout as attendees and organizations are still navigating the current COVID environment.”

The Chapter’s RSM business partners agreed the innovative collaborative event was a success.

“HFMA is all about furthering a community of healthcare professionals,” said Jeremy Zabel, a partner at RSM. “Our role as sponsor host of the event allowed us to demonstrate to our own people the importance of investment in this healthcare community and their participation in it."

Wieshalla offered a few words of advice for other chapters interested in hosting an event at a sponsor’s facility. Engage business partners in the conversation early. Gauge interest, and identify areas of opportunity. Then look at budgets, and ask whether it makes sense.

“Understand where your event revenue comes from,” said Weishalla. “If it’s a heavily sponsored event, work hard to adapt a design that fits partnership support from the variety of business partners.”

About the Author

Crystal Milazzo

is a senior editor at HFMA, based in Beaverton, Oregon.

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