Digestive health will be in focus in Copenhagen next year with the United European Gastroenterology Week 2023 taking place at the Bella Center, bringing together once again gastroenterology professionals from all over the continent. Organised by the United European Gastroenterology (UEG), the congress is a leader in its field and thus returns to the Danish capital after the 2005 edition, expecting to attract around 10,000 delegates.
Considering the new trends the events industry has been grappling with - information technology, hybrid events, social impacts and sustainable practices - we tried to find out what new features the international congress will bring and what were the main points and criteria covered in the RFP. To this end we spoke with the two entities responsible for planning this event, following this new association momentum around initiatives that integrate international conferences more deeply with the local community, businesses and scientific institutions of the host destination.
1) How did this cooperation come about and what were the main reasons you attribute for the return of the International Gastroenterology congress?
Bettina Reventlow-Mourier, Deputy Convention Director - Head of Congress at Wonderful Copenhagen CVB: We have been in contact with UEG ever since they were last in Copenhagen, and have had some great conversations along the way on when and how UEG potentially could return. We have also had, for many years a strong involvement and commitment from Danish experts and professionals in UEG. The UEG Week is not only a very important and significant congress in terms of size and topic; life sciences are also a stronghold in our region and an area where we are increasing our investment, including the further partnering with new life science stakeholder groups that may be beneficial to UEG. At the same time, Copenhagen meets UEG’s needs of in terms of logistics and functionality, but also as a safe, reliable, liveable destination for its delegates to meet in.
2) Are you devising a new strategy to attract association meetings in this post-pandemic period?
BRM: We are indeed. We recently launched a new strategy with Meetingplace – our member association – called “Copenhagen together for positive impact”. It replaces “Copenhagen Means Business”, and is a move away from a strong focus on winning bed nights to, instead, focus more on relevance, partnerships, sustainability and legacy. The strategy consists of three main pillars: transforming to meet changing client needs; sharing communities; and creating broader sustainable impact. We firmly believe that this is the way forward for our industry – not just CVBs but for the entire meetings ecosystem.
3) How did you explore the legacy angle and the potential impact for the city in the bid for this congress?
BRM: We presented the Copenhagen Legacy Lab as an offer to UEG for the organisation, in close collaboration with the destination, to look at UEG’s vision and mission and match it with the potentially challenges and barriers Denmark has in the field of digestive health. In this match, we have the ambition to find opportunities to develop specific activities targeted at solving these common challenges with the aim of driving long term positive impact. Copenhagen Legacy Lab and UEG will meet in November to further explore the potential here.
1) How will you ensure a more efficient, productive and inclusive congress for all your delegates in this 2023 chapter?
Doris Möstl, Executive Director at UEG: As the European home for multidisciplinary gastroenterology, we unite over 50,000 engaged professionals from national and specialist societies, individual digestive health experts and related scientists from all fields. Thus, it is in our DNA to be inclusive and deliver excellent scientific content that is of interest to those from many different backgrounds. We provide what we call a “truly hybrid” congress by offering two different delegate journeys, which allows attendees to join us in-person or online via our virtual platform to get updates on therapies, innovations, as well as new diagnostic and product insights. While UEG Week is a very important touchpoint for our community, we also provide through our myUEG Community countless opportunities (both online and in-person) for individuals to engage, interact and advance over the course of the entire year. Our myUEG Community is the connecting tool for our diverse digestive health community and provides a plethora of outstanding free resources, educational activities and opportunities to our specialists. With our platform and free social feature, My Connect, we enable our associates to grow a strong network of friends, colleagues, peers, and collaborators within the field of digestive health.
Doris Möstl, Executive Director at UEG
2) Why did you decide to partner with Copenhagen for the International Gastroenterology Congress?
DM: Copenhagen and the Bella Center have a good track record in organising international medical congresses. We have found a meaningful and reliable partner for our congress with Copenhagen, and the Bella Center offers us the necessary size and flexibility to organise our event and host our large industry exhibition. Other important criteria include number of hotel rooms, international accessibility, venue reachability, public transportation system and support in the process provided by the local convention bureau. In our assessment, we also talk about currency risk, VAT situation, average price level of hotels, dining locations and other services we use; we look at ICCA and Mercer ratings (quality of life, safety, political stability) and of course we need to make sure we can present a reasonable budget for the event.
3) How do you plan to introduce the Danish scientific community and your local partners in digestive health to the congress delegates?
DM: UEG is a truly international organisation, and we are fortunate enough to have the representation of many Danish colleagues within our myUEG Community and on several of our boards and committees. Our Scientific Committee oversees the development of the scientific programme for UEG Week and I am certain that in 2023 we will welcome renowned faculty from Denmark to our congress. We additionally look forward to receiving and featuring many abstracts from the Danish digestive health community, as we understand there is a great deal of excellent research ongoing.
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