Congress destination selection can be tricky because of the number of aspects that need to be considered. This article discusses some of the key considerations.
First or second tier
Selecting the right destination is key and this starts with a choice of first or second tier city. Examples of first tier cities include London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid or Chicago. Second tier (typically smaller but still significant) include the likes of Bologna, Liverpool, Malaga. Of course by their nature there are many more second than first tier cities. First tier cities tend to have better infrastructure and a choice of good venues and accommodation. However they also tend to be more expensive. Second tier cities are generally better for smaller more specialist meetings.
Transport and infrastructure considerations
The destination should be appropriate for the location of your attendees. Whether you are running a national or international meeting choose a city that has great rail and air links to make it as easy as possible for your delegates to get there. Whilst first tier cities generally all have excellent transport links second tier ones have less. Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester are all very well connected cities for both flights and trains as they each have multiple daily flights from the main European hub airports Heathrow, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Charles de Gaulle (Paris). Cities such as Krakow, Maastrict and Malaga are less well connected although still have superb facilities. You should always take a look at your demographic of attendees to make sure it’s going to be relatively easy for them to get to the meeting.
Conference organisers should consider whether a destination is going to be compliant amongst pharmaceutical and medical device companies. In order to be compliant a destination needs to be relevant and in a logical location for the attendees. This probably means you shouldn’t book the 5* hotel on the Greek island you were considering! Associations should be aware that your congress destination selection affects the ability of pharmaceutical and medical device companies to sponsor your event.
A strong local organising committee
Most international congresses that rotate will have a local organising committee. The responsibilities vary from association to association and can range from running the social programme up to full congress management. A key role typical of such a committee is to raise local sponsorship and so having good links to industry in that destination are imperative. Having a strong, dynamic and well-organised local committee is so important to the success of the congress. If the committee can be linked to a local or national association in your field you will gain increased credibility which in turn will improve the marketing efforts for the congress.
Financial considerations for congress destination selection
Some destinations offer financial support to inbound congresses. This is because of the positive economic impact that such a meeting brings to a city. Known as a “Marketing Fund” or “Subvention” they effectively involve providing a grant to the association to help run the congress. Some cities also offer benefits in kind such as the use of a city venue for a dinner, free public transportation and airport meet and greet services. When considering a city we strongly recommend contacting the convention bureau of that destination as they can offer an invaluable source of advice and help. More often than not is using the services of a convention bureau completely free.