Basic Event Information
Date: 29 August 2021 – 1 September 2021
Location: Milan, MiCo Convention Center
Organiser: AIM Group International
Client: European Society for Organ Transplantation’s (ESOT)
EVENT CATEGORY: CATEGORY B2C
EVENT SUBCATEGORY: Best Association Conference, Congress
EVENT FORMAT: LIVE
Event description and key objectives
The 20th edition of the European Society for Organ Transplantation’s (ESOT) biennial congress has been celebrated from 29th August to 1st September in-person at the MiCo Convention Centre, in Milan (Italy), and online. The biennial ESOT Congress is the largest gathering of the transplant community in Europe to review latest developments in transplantation. ESOT Congress 2021 was one of the first major, international congresses with a consistent face-to-face international attendance held after a pandemic wave and events limitations. For that reason, it recorded a great degree of enthusiasm from the transplant community who have been waiting for the opportunity to reconvene, but has also to face many challenges, managing the safety measures and making participants feel comfortable and at ease.
The conference organisation must face the continuing evolving situation, both from the sanitary and legislation point of view: during the weeks rules and limitations to travels and events have changed several times in Italy and in every country of origin of the delegates, so it was necessary to carefully monitor the changes and adapt. Gathering large groups of people, after so many months of social distancing and worry about health, asked to reassure potential delegates on the safety measures and at the same time maintain the focus on the value of being face to face again, making the preventative measures discreet. Scientific associations must focus on the scientific content and program so all the logistics and safety measures must be managed with a problem-solving approach, lifting up those concerns from their plate.
Coming back to in-person event after months of social distancing and during the ongoing pandemic requested a bit a creativity to promote safety measures and avoid risky gatherings from one side and let people enjoy the in-person event at the same time. All the procedures that could be done by delegates themselves were automated like self-registration, self-printing of the badge and the final attendance certificate, etc. Box lunches with all separated products were given to each delegate, but also open, outdoor and large spaces were available where people could eat independently with the possibility to chat with someone else.
Organising a big event, after one year and half of stop to events and mass gatherings, requested new procedures, and new ways to manage the location and services. To ensure the safety, ESOT has taken strict safety measures to align with Italy’s latest COVID-19 regulations. The new professional figure of COVID manager was completely dedicated to managing all the necessary actions related to the prevention and safety. Some of the measures put in place included separated entry and exit flows, body temperature measurement, hand sanitising stations, floor signage to encourage social distancing, automated IT procedures for registration, advanced medical support in case of need and all rooms set up to meet social distancing requirements. Additionally, the cleaning service has been upgraded, internal air recirculation eliminated, and free COVID tests were made available near the location for those who needed it to fly back home.
The numbers featuring the congress are huge: +850 speakers for 830 presentations (425 pre-recorded, 67 virtual delivered live, 338 on site), 1.200 abstracts submitted, 11 break-out parallels rooms, 12 industry symposia, 3 hands-on sessions with simulation and perfusion machines and an exhibition area with +30 sponsors. Despite the preventative measures, the conference program was as rich and smooth as before covid, thanks to a careful organisation. All the scientific sessions were recorded and streamed online, giving also remote participants the opportunity to follow the content. Also a social program was realised including the President dinner at Museo della Scienza e della Tecnica cloister, a welcome cocktail at MiCo convention center and a board dinner, combining safety with the pleasure to share pleasant moment.
The 4-day event registered 1.200 in-person participants plus 1.400 online attendees, with a wide international representation from 74 countries, including European but also overseas participants for example from China and the USA. AIM Group International, as the appointed PCO, supported ESOT to organise all the in-person event in Milan. The client has been really satisfied with the results of the in-person event for the “outstanding service level provided, the fruitful collaboration and the professionalism of all local providers involved”. After ESOT 2021, AIM Group was confirmed for the organization of the 2023 conference, planned in Athens, enlarging the scope of provided services, including a communication project.
The event was promoted to the potential delegates with an integrated communication plan, managed by ESOT, including direct emails, newsletters, updated on association profiles and conference website.
The use of sustainable practices
ESOT has always been very attentive to sustainability, for instance, the final conference program has not been printed for many years and every waste is limited to the maximum, whether we are talking about food (extra food was donated to a city charity association), paper, plastic (use of reusable aluminium bottles with water dispensers around the congress venue, use of badges without plastic holder, etc.), or transport (no transfers to / from are organized for the speakers, where possible tickets for public transport are offered to delegates, etc.).