The Global PCO Kenes Group shares some insights on running association conferences again after the Covid-19 enforced hiatus. These events were held in Europe and the US, with proof of vaccination and negative PCR test results required in Paris, and attestation forms in Baltimore:
The first hybrid annual conference of the American Association for Bronchology and Interventional Pulmonology (AABIP) took place 26-28 August in Baltimore, US. Only a few days later, from 2-4 September, the Kenes team travelled to Paris, France, for the fully in-person second Joint Congress of the International Neuromodulation Society European Chapters (e-INS 2021).
For AABIP the option for a hybrid event satisfied both the opportunity to meet for the first time since 2019 and the option to offer an online element for those that were not able to travel. The conference saw 415 delegates in-person and another 245 online.
Smara Iglesia, managing director of Kenes Spain, said: “The in-person element felt natural for everyone – for our team, the participants, sponsors and exhibitors, no matter how much time had passed. For us, every activity in the venue, from the set up to the teardown, was so full of emotions, and it felt great to be back using all our senses.”
In early September, the city of Paris, France welcomed 490 participants for the joint congress of the INS European Chapters. This was the second event of the e-INS series, which was supported by exhibitors and sponsors, underlining the need to meet in-person and network face to face, something pharmaceutical companies continuously asked for in the last 18 months.
The main challenge of planning an in-person event in still uncertain times revolves around the changing biosecurity measures and mandates.The team behind the AABIP could not fly to the US, due to a travel ban for all Schengen area countries and a plan B was enforced.
Regardless of the challenges addressed by the Kenes Group team in Paris due to new mandates, the event gathered participants from 33 countries and was one of the first international meetings to take place at the venue since the start of the pandemic.
Ira Hajdamacha, director of client accounts and responsible for e-INS 2021, said: “Having the smell of freshly baked croissants and feeling the buzz of the meeting and the sense of action – these are the moments that set apart virtual from in-person and we savoured every minute. In-person events touch each of us and the participants personally in a unique way.
Both events clearly communicated the current mandates that each city had and the regulations that participants had to follow. For AABIP, all participants had to sign a form when registering onsite to attest to their vaccination or immunisation status. Masks were required by the state of Baltimore, but no social distancing, even if all areas were set up to provide additional space.
In Paris, masks were not a requirement but were highly recommended, and similarly, there was additional space factored in all areas. All participants had to show proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter the venue.