Successful Meetings - June 2008 - (Page 18)

Planner Spotlight > Kelly Broz Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders’ meeting, Omaha, NE Planning for the World’s Richest Man Move over, Madonna. Step aside, Shakira. Your paltry crowds of 20,000 don’t impress Kelly Broz— her last show drew over 30,000 people, even though it had no singing or dancing, just two guys sitting onstage discussing finance. But hey, when the show is the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders’ meeting and the two guys are Warren and Charlie—as in Buffett and Munger, Berkshire’s chairman and vice-chairman—they might as well be Mick and Keith. It’s not for nothing the meeting’s been dubbed “Woodstock for Capitalists.” BILLIONAIRE BOY’S CLUB BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY ANNUAL SHAREHOLDERS’ MEETING Dates: May 3-4, 2008 Attendance: 32,000 Total hotel rooms: 10,000 Celeb attendees: Bill Gates, Susan Lucci Registration fee: $0 (attendees cover travel and hotel) Broz’s story starts some three decades ago, when she was a teenager in Omaha, NE, where Buffett was her mom’s bridge partner. She’s worked on and off for various Buffetts over the years, including Warren’s wife and daughter (or, as she calls them, “Mama Susie and Susie Jr.”). She started at Berkshire Hathaway as are gone the summer before, with some attendees staying up to 50 miles away. “People line up the night before to get a good seat in the auditorium,” says Broz. “A couple thousand are already there by sunrise.” Yet when asked about the possibility of a venue change, she interrupts: “Don’t say it! We will never leave Omaha.” THE “PERFECT JOB” Broz says her biggest challenge isn’t parking, security, or other issues typical of large conventions, but choosing a meeting theme. She’d “love” to use “Woodstock for Capitalists,” but so far negotiations over the rights to the name haven’t succeeded. “This year’s theme was tropical, with palm trees and a beach—it was great,” she says. “Last year’s was architecture and building, and it was horrible—nobody got into it.” And next year’s? “I’ll never tell!” Surprisingly, Buffett doesn’t micromanage, says Broz. “He just lets me go for it. He knows very little (From Left) CNBC’s Becky Quick, Warren Buffett, and Kelly Broz do a walk through an admin and began helping with the annual meeting as a “microphone person,” providing amplification to audience members asking questions of the Oracle of Omaha. Today, Broz plans the annual get-together with a core team of seven—“I’m a control freak; that’s why the group is so small”—plus umpteen volunteers, security people, and so forth. Since 2003, the year before she had to move from the Omaha Civic Auditorium to the Qwest Center, attendance has more than doubled. The Omaha CVB doesn’t track economic impact, but consider this: The local Nebraska Furniture Mart sold $30.9 million worth of merchandise last year on that one weekend alone. Hotel rooms about the event until it actually happens.” Another surprise: “Warren is extremely witty. He’s the funniest man I’ve ever met”—which may partly explain how he and Munger are able to hold shareholders’ attention during the main session, a six-hour Q&A. Her favorite thing about planning the meeting? “Everything,” Broz answers. “The creative process, the fact that setup every year is like a reunion with the exhibitors and police—I just love it. It’s really the perfect job. Knowing I can create anything I want is wonderful.” —Sara J. Welch Does your meeting deserve to be in the Spotlight? Write us at, and you could be profiled in SM. JUNE 2008 SUCCESSFUL MEETINGS 18

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Successful Meetings - June 2008

Successful Meetings - June 2008
Editor's Note
Industry Trends
Planner Spotlight: Kelly Broz
Technology Talk
Food & Beverage
Websites of the Month
Pre-Event: Tech
Pre-Event: Bartering
Tools of the Trade
Dialing for Dollars
The All-in-One Resort
Bottom-Line Speakers
Places & Spaces
Florida’s West Coast

Successful Meetings - June 2008