My company hosts international conferences twice a year, as an extension of our role publishing a technical journal. We started working with Event Management Services (EMS) in late 2019, when they dived straight in to the organisation of: a regional Asian conference in Kuala Lumpur (originally scheduled to take place just a few months later – but now postponed 3 times as a result of COVID); a large congress scheduled to be in Strasbourg in October; and, a regional African conference and exhibition to be held in Uganda next year.
A huge amount of effort went into planning the Strasbourg event, with associated workshops, study tours, social events, a large exhibition, around 200 speakers to present in 40 sessions, and more than 1000 delegates expected. The event was substantially reorganised during the summer to arrange for social distancing and other health protection measures. Registration was set up and open, but the continuing pandemic intervened again. In late August, with just two months to go, EMS embarked on transforming this complex event into a virtual one. The format of the programme was maintained, with four tracks of parallel sessions, pre-recorded talks, Q&A sessions by Zoom, and an exhibition.
The workload, in addition to the learning curve for all, and the stress associated with multiple changes to the programme, were all tremendous, but the transformation went smoothly. The technical aspects went precisely to plan, the EMS team controlled each session calmly and efficiently, and it was a success. Feedback has been amazing. In this year’s very challenging circumstances, this was as close as possible to a real event, which was appreciated by all.
Our chairmen and speakers commended EMS for what they had achieved (as we did too!). Apart from the skill and efficiency with which they delivered the event, I appreciated particularly how cheerful and patient the team remained throughout some long and intense working days in the final runup to the conference.
When the world finally returns to normal, we look forward to working on site with EMS at our next live events around the world.
Alison Bartle, Director, Aqua-Media International Ltd