American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Event Planning/Logistics

Chapters of the College play an important role in providing Fellows, and other members, ongoing opportunities for educational enrichment and networking via chapter annual meetings and other events, such as special activities for residents, medical students and other groups within the chapter. The ACS Chapter Meeting Toolkit provides building blocks for chapter inaugural meetings, as well as new ideas for seasoned chapters. Whether or not a chapter council has an established program committee, this toolkit will serve as an adjunct for chapter officers and administrators in the planning and execution of successful chapter events.

ACS Chapters play an important role in expanding the College’s efforts to provide its members with opportunities to maintain and advance their surgical knowledge. Through their program planning activities, chapters organize their own scientific programs to keep members current with the rapid advances in surgical information and techniques.  Implementation of these educational events requires attention to numerous event planning details such as: faculty confirmation, producing a program brochure, venue selection, food and beverage provision, audiovisual needs, and program evaluation.


The venue for a chapter meeting should be determined at least one year prior to the event. When choosing the optimal venue, the primary consideration is meeting space size and layout.  This should include adequate rooms for sessions, posters, meals and receptions, registration, and vendors. The location should be convenient for attendees, including residents who may be traveling around call duties.

The following are items to consider when evaluating possible meeting venues:

  • Type of facility best suited for meeting needs: hotel/resort, conference center, hospital or university facility
  • Number of singles, doubles and suites available for a room block, including prices
  • Overflow housing options
  • Availability of complimentary rooms when booking a block or meeting rooms
  • Appearance and general upkeep of the facility
  • Meeting room capacities, dimensions and consideration of potential obstructions (i.e. pillars)
  • Lighting, ventilation and temperature controls
  • Sound system, A/V, soundproofing
  • Staging areas
  • Exhibit facilities
  • Fees and deadlines for shipping of meeting materials to the venue
  • Security/fire safety
  • ADA accessibility for both sleeping and meeting rooms
  • Distance between hotel and meeting venue (if separate), shuttle services to/from airport, availability of parking/taxi service/public transportation.
  • Availability and pricing of parking and valet services, convenience of parking in and around the venue, drop off considerations for large supplies such as those needed by the vendors or for meeting needs such as Top Gun, etc.
  • Overlapping events held at the venue, or nearby, that may interfere with your event
  • Credit, gratuity and liquor policies
  • Food, beverage and entertainment taxes
  • Union requirements
  • Concierge services
  • Local entertainment options

Food and Beverage Services

Breaks, meals and receptions provide attendees an excellent opportunity to meet new people, renew old acquaintances and exchange ideas. The food and beverage service is an important part of creating the environment for these interactions and the following guidelines will help your chapter navigate food and beverage selection and implementation:

  • When you meet with the catering manager assigned to your event, provide a brief overview of your group, the preferences of attendees (if known) and an estimated budget for each function held during the meeting.
  • Ask the catering manager for suggestions that may be specialties of hotel catering. Don’t be afraid to suggest specific ideas or combinations of set menus, since many hotels allow substitutions to part of their menu.
  • Be prepared to provide a guaranteed attendance for each catered function 48 hours prior to the event. (This number is the minimum upon which charges will be made). Attendee records from past meetings, and current registration numbers, will help you to determine the guarantee number.
  • If there will be a presentation during a meal, discuss the time frame for the presentation with the catering manager and provide an outline as to what is acceptable for serving and removing of dishes (i.e. wait until presentation is over to serve, or serve entrée course prior to the beginning of the presentation, O.K. to remove dishes and serve dessert after presentation over, etc.).

Producing a Program Brochure

A program brochure is important for generating interest for chapter meetings. An effective brochure describes the program, lists the benefits of attendance to members and other potential attendees and provides accurate information about the meeting agenda and location.

The following outlines the key components that should be included in a program brochure:

  • Cover page:
    • Chapter name
    • Meeting theme or one line describing the meeting
    • Date(s)
    • Location (venue, city and state)
    • Sponsorship(s)
    • ACS Seal
  • Inside Brochure:
    • Description of the meeting learning objectives, benefits
    • CME Accreditation Statement (if applicable)
    • Program agenda—include details of educational sessions as well as breaks, meals and receptions
    • List of faculty or speakers
    • Exhibit information (i.e. list of exhibitors, exhibit hall hours)
    • Acknowledgement of corporate sponsors
    • Maps to meeting venue
    • Information about hotel reservations
    • Registration form
    • List of chapter officers, councilors and Governors
  • Printed materials:
    • Printed materials should have the ACS seal. Artwork may be downloaded by logging into the member portal.
    • If the format needed is not available via this link, please contact Chapter Services staff at and you will be forwarded the ACS artwork in an alternate format.
    • Consider ribbons for name badges for officers, program committee members, presenters/faculty, vendors/sponsors/donors to the chapter.

Audio Visual Services

The effectiveness of audiovisual equipment can either enhance or ruin a meeting. Whether utilizing an in-house A/V vendor or an external company, audio, visual, electric and labor charges are an integral part of the costs of a chapter meeting.

The following considerations are important for evaluating what A/V services are required for your chapter meeting:

  • The A/V requirements of speakers should be confirmed and speakers should be made aware that any last minute requests for additional services may not be accommodated.
  • During a multi-day event, be sure to confirm meeting rooms on a 24-hour basis to avoid tear-down and reset charges of equipment for the start of each day of the meeting.
  • Check each meeting room for aspects such as possible noise from other rooms, sight obstructions, A/V equipment near exit/door locations, outlet locations, lighting and sound controls.
  • Prior to setup (and as early as possible prior to the start of the meeting) make sure all equipment is placed as requested and is in good working order.
  • Ensure that any chapter staff/volunteers involved in assisting with A/V equipment are fully trained and able to deal with technology emergencies during the session. Alternatively, if a technician will be used, ensure that they are aware of the requirements for each session.

There are many expenses that fall under the A/V category. These may include:

  • Equipment rental for in-house and external suppliers. There may be local union regulations in place about the use of suppliers which should be investigated.
  • Room rental, set-up charges
  • Union overtime rates
  • Equipment operator fees

Meeting Registration and Fees

Considerations include:

  • Is the meeting attendance fee included in the annual dues?
  • Determine the structure of the annual meeting fees schedule; non-members, members, senior members, residents.
  • Will a meeting fee discount be offered to a new member if Chapter dues are paid?
  • Is there a discount for online and/or early-bird registration? Will the fee be higher if registering onsite/in-person?
  • Meals and/or amenities included with registration.
  • Is there a discounted hotel room block for meeting attendees? What is the cut-off date to receive the discount?
  • Is parking included/validated?
  • Ensure a convenient registration area at meeting
  • On-site payment options (credit card, cash, check)

Presentations: Speakers and Moderators

When inviting presenters or moderators to speak at a chapter meeting these items below should be considered:

  • Contact presenters and moderators as soon as possible with invitations to speak or moderate. One year ahead of the meeting is optimal, but aim for nothing less than 6 months.
  • Determine if any financial support or honoraria is needed when contacting presenters.
  • Determine if presenters/ moderators will have the meeting registration fee waived.
  • Create a spreadsheet or database for acceptance of invitations along with contact information.
  • Send email confirmation of presentation time and logistics, along with preliminary program. Logistical considerations include parking, when the presentation is to be uploaded, any special IT concerns. Confirm honorarium amount and/or procedures for reimbursement of travel/lodging expenses.
  • Confirm cancellation policy exempting the chapter from expenses and/or honorarium if the program itself is cancelled or if the speaker cancels
  • Send final agenda and reminder one week prior to meeting.
  • Send thank you notes or emails no later than one week after meeting.

Guidelines for Inviting the ACS President to a Chapter Meeting

  • All requests for the President of the College to attend a chapter meeting, if it is to be funded by Chapter Services, must be sent via the email address
  • Please do not contact the President or other Officers of the College directly. We will let him/her know of the request to attend a chapter event as soon as it reaches us via
  • One year to six months advance notice is advisable at the minimum, as the President’s presentation schedule fills quickly even prior to taking office.
  • Please send questions regarding invitations to any College Officer to and

Program Evaluation

Prior to the event the chapter should decide what method to use for evaluating the program. The two most common methods are to:

  • Distribute hard copy evaluation forms during the event, and instruct attendees to complete and return them during the event.
  • Conduct the evaluation electronically via Survey Monkey, etc. The evaluation should be sent shortly after completion of the event so that attendees still have a fresh perspective.

The main goal of an evaluation is to determine whether the chapter achieved the meeting objectives, to gauge the success of speakers in sharing their expertise and the relevance of their information, to assess the meeting facilities, and to gain insights into what drove attendance.

Annual Business Meeting of the Chapter

The annual business meeting of the members of an ACS Chapter should be held each year, at a time and place designated by the Council, for the purpose of electing officers and councilors and for the transaction of other business as may come before the members. Ideally this meeting will be held during the Chapter annual meeting, as many of the chapter’s members are present to hear the news and to participate in any votes that need to take place. Many ACS Chapters designate part of the lunch hour for the annual business meeting, or hold at the end of the meeting, on the last day. But the choice is up to the chapter.

Suggested agenda items for a Chapter Business Meeting include:

  1. Call to Order & Welcome
  2. Establishment of a Quorum
  3. Review of previous meeting minutes and approval, with any suggested changes
  4. President’s Report
  5. Treasurer’s Report
  6. Governor’s Report (also may be held given as a session held elsewhere in the meeting)
  7. Nominating Committee Report (soliciting additional nominations from the floor)
  8. Election of Officers
  9. Voting that needs to take place surrounding the revision to chapter bylaws (changes or adding to)
  10. Any Announcements
  11. New/Old Business
  12. Adjournment