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‘Kelsey Kits’ Turbo-Charge 911’s Conference Prep

‘Kelsey Kits’ Turbo-Charge 911’s Conference Prep

By Julie Rogers

Producing an annual conference for thousands of members of a national healthcare organization is no small feat. Fortunately, 911 has this down to an art. 

The Art of Conference Prep

One of our foundational supports for these events is an elaborate PDF that acts as a bible for a given conference. Created by 911’s Strategic Event Managers, this guiding document can run 50-100 pages depending on the complexity of conference events because it contains everything on-site staff could possibly need to know—from the food the venue will provide for a reception buffet to where every staff member should be at any given hour. The PDF is so valuable that when I’m working on-site at one of our clients’ conferences, I have this document loaded on my phone and I carry a binder that contains key pages I’ve printed.

This document also describes not just where staff should be but also where things should be, from needed technology to raffle drums for drawing raffle winners’ names. No matter how detailed this document is—and it’s very detailed—there will always be tools and supplies we need on the fly.

That’s where 911’s General Processing Center (GPC) saves the day. In addition to gathering shipments of all the things needed at the conference, GPC has vital on-site resources that fill in the gaps. One of the best of these, in my opinion, is the tackle box. It’s basically a Tardis of office supplies that magically contains a good chunk of an office supply store. As soon as someone needs an office supply that wasn’t already assigned to a specific place, they open the two-tray tackle box. Need two-sided tape or a single-hole punch? A weird size Post-It note or a Sharpie? The tackle box has it.

Kelsey’s Conference Necessities Kits

I would have thought there’s nothing we could possible need that’s not in the tackle box. Then, along came 911 employee Kelsey Kind, who serves as APHON’s Education Manager. When we kicked off the APHON 46th Annual Conference & Exhibit in West Palm Beach, FL, Kelsey had packed more than what was required to keep the top-notch education program flowing.

Kelsey presented each on-site staff member with a gallon zip-top bag that was quickly dubbed “a Kelsey Kit.” (APHON Marketing & Membership Manager Maaliyah O'Connor took this one step further, referring to Kelsey as “Kits” for the rest of the conference.) Each kit contained just about everything you might suddenly need but not have at-hand, including hand sanitizer, bobby pins, batteries, face masks, stain removers, breath mints, trash bags, and Band-Aids.

Kelsey Kind really lived up to her last name. She’d shopped Costco on her own time and created an assembly line on her dining room table to equip over a dozen zip-top bags.

“I came up with these kits from years of doing annual conferences and never really having everything I needed,” she said. “I kept a list of ideas for a couple of weeks and added to it daily. As planning went on, I would tell a story about a past conference, or talk to a vendor, and be reminded of something else I should add.” Kleenex and stain removers were necessities from Kelsey’s own experiences, while zip ties and duct tape came up during work with a vendor.

“I carry around an emergency kit in my purse daily, but this was my amped up version. I basically wanted to create something that could help any situation and tried to focus on multi-use products,” she said.

She definitely succeeded. The Kelsey Kit quickly got added to my essentials list. Hey, we need a way to attach more visible prices to the apparel on display in the bookstore? My Kelsey Kit has safety pins in it! The beautiful garland isn’t staying on the arch in the relaxation room? No problem, there are zip ties in the Kelsey Kits.

There are numerous instances when the Kelsey Kits saved us time and frustration, replacing MacGyver-ed solutions and eliminating emergency runs for needed supplies.

When I got home from the APHON Conference, I kept the remaining supplies from my Kelsey Kit in their bag near my desk so I could grab things as I needed them, from lip balm to ponytail holders. When I traveled to Boston for the 2022 Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, there was no question in my mind about whether I should bring the remains of my Kelsey Kit—and I dipped into that bag multiple times!

You’d better believe I’ll be restocking my Kelsey Kit before the next conference season and sharing it with colleagues who’ll be inspired to create their own. I have a feeling the “Kelsey Kit” will be long lasting, too.

At 911, we’re really good at planning for virtually every possible need at clients’ conferences, but some unforeseen needs—or wants—will slip past our planning documents and supply boxes. In those situations, we rely on the strengths of our people, like our amazing coworker Kelsey Kind!

Julie Rogers is a senior content marketing and editorial manager in the Creative Media Services (CMS) department at 911.

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