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Spotlight on Meetings and Conventions

When bidding for an event is like the Olympics

Credit: Guy Rainville

While the Summer Olympics have just wrapped up after years of planning, it’s easy to make parallels between the games’ organizers and, perhaps on a smaller scale, what meeting professionals experience when putting together a convention or tradeshow. Being able to carry out the sheer level of planning and logistics is a feat in and of itself.

But have you ever considered the similarities between cities bidding for the Olympics and organizers hoping to draw an event to a specific host location. They’re a lot more alike than at first glance. Just ask André Morin, Vice-president Engineering at Hedzopt.

Over the years, he has played a crucial role in attracting several high-profile engineering events to Québec, including OCEANS’ 08 MTS/IEEE, the IEEE Section Congress 2008, the International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS) in 2014, and just last year, the International Conference on Image Processing (ICIP).

Team Work

When bidding for an event is like the Olympics

“You can’t just raise your hand and volunteer your hometown for an event,” Mr. Morin said with a laugh. “Many of these conferences are akin to the Olympics. Your presentation to the decision-making body has to be flawless.”

Take ICIP. Sponsored by the IEEE Signal Processing Society, it’s the premier forum for the presentation of technological advances and research results in image and video processing. The bidding process for the 2015 edition, which was to be the largest ever held in North America, started as early as 2009. “From the onset, we had to start networking to develop the team that would help us with the pre-application process in Texas 2010. We worked closely with Québec City’s Ambassadors’ Club, which has the know-how and expertise to put these types of bids together.”

Record breaking time

Mr. Morin, the team at Québec City’s Ambassadors’ Club and the preliminary planning committee next had to get ready for the final pitch in Hong Kong, later on in 2010. “Myself and a member of Québec City’s Ambassadors’ Club literally flew in to Hong Kong for a seven-minute pitch,” he remembered.

That’s right. A seven-minute pitch. “It wasn’t the usual 15-20 minute presentations we were accustomed to with other events. We had to present in a very succinct, yet compelling, fashion, our vision for the conference and the value of holding the event in Québec City—all within 420 seconds. Everything was riding on the line.”

Sound familiar with some of the Olympic sports you watched this summer?

Unwavering commitment

Once the presentation was over, Mr. Morin and his partner flew back to Canada. “You have to believe in your project and be fully committed to the task to fly in and out of Asia in the space of just a day or two,” Mr. Morin added with a chuckle.

Québec City won the bid for the ICIP 2015. Now the task was to get everything organized to welcome over 1300 delegates over three days. “It takes a lot of time and commitment for these types of events and their bidding process, but it is definitely worth it when you get the enthusiastic and amazing feedback from attendees after the conference,” Mr. Morin said. “That’s worth its weight in gold.”

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