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The importance of city and site visits for your event’s success

“Visits and site inspections make a huge difference on the success of an event. You just can’t obtain that much practical information and insights by surfing on the Internet alone. With FAM (familiarization)trips, you build relationships and better understand what the host city has to offer,” explains Erin Dolan, Program Manager – Technical Events for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), a non-profit organization with more than 130,000 members worldwide and more than 40 conferences and conventions per year.

The importance of city and site visits for your event’s success

Looking to score big on the success meter during your next convention or conference? Visits to your potential or selected host city and site inspections are key to ensuring that you get what you bargained for. While time may be a factor that cause event planners to question the value of site visits, the benefits by far outweigh the perceived drawbacks.

“ASME deemed it was time to bring the 2018 International Design Engineering Technical Conference and Computer and Information in Engineering Conference (IDETC/CIE) back to Canada,” explained Ms. Dolan. “After last year’s conference, organizers and sponsors encouraged us to take a look at Québec City as an option for the 2018 event. We short-listed some Canadian cities, including Québec City, and then got started on our research.”  

Clément Gosselin, Université Laval

Ms. Dolan was so pleased to coordinate with Lead Technical Event Organizer Professor Clément Gosselin, from Université Laval in Québec City and Canada Research Chair in Robotics and Mechatronics and member of Québec Ambassador’s Club. “He was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the site selection process and I really appreciate his expertise; he was the one who introduced me to Québec City.” Ms. Dolan explained that Clément’s role is to develop and oversee the educational and technical aspects of the conference and her role is overall logistical and program management of the conference.

Ms. Dolan and her team put together a list of criteria to evaluate each city. “We focused mainly on the affordability, availability to welcome over a thousand delegates, the quality of the accommodations and dining, and the accessibility from major hubs in the US,” she said. “We also wanted to give the 2018 event an international “touch” so that attendees would feel as though they were discovering a new and unique culture.”

The event planning team also wanted to secure a host city that had the infrastructure, professionals and expertise to pull off the event without a hitch. “When you’re organizing an event of this stature, you want to make sure that local contacts are truly capable and willing to create the event you envision. You don’t want to be left to your own devices in the middle of an unknown city,” she added.

"As an American event planner, the proximity and logistics are so important. Québec, along with the Québec City Convention Centre, really pulled out all the stops to show just how easy it is to organize an event in the area.”

This past winter, Ms. Dolan visited Québec City during the Québec Winter Carnival to take part in a FAM trip of the city—a comprehensive tour of Québec City’s venues, dining options and tourism activities. The goal was to determine whether Québec City fit the bill as a host city for ASME.

And thanks to that crucial visit in Québec, the city was then chosen to host the conference. “By far, Québec City won out: it met all of our requirements…and then some,” Ms. Dolan said. “I fell in love with Québec City immediately. I had no idea we had this European gem only hours away from New York!”

“By far, Québec City won out: it met all of our requirements…and then some,” Ms. Dolan said. “I fell in love with Québec City immediately. I had no idea we had this European gem only hours away from New York!”

Ms. Dolan was particularly impressed with Québec City’s overall “package.” “As an American event planner, the proximity and logistics are so important. Québec, along with the Québec City Convention Centre, really pulled out all the stops to show just how easy it is to organize an event in the area.” Ms. Dolan cited that she was presented a lot of options for venues, activity and dining that went above and beyond the cookie-cutter approach. “It was actually hard to decide!”

During her FAM trip to Québec City, Ms. Dolan was able to experience first-hand the French culture, talk to local representatives, assessed event resources, and truly got a feel of Québec City’s distinct vibe. “Although I was nervous at first because I don’t speak French, everyone made me feel right at home. There were no language barriers,” she noted.

The 2018 International Design Engineering Technical Conference and Computer and Information in Engineering Conference will take place at the Québec City Convention Centre from August 26 to 29, 2018. More than 1000 engineers from university, government and industry will gather to participate in a tradeshow, major conferences and break-out seminars. “I’ve told my colleagues I cannot wait to go back to Québec City next year,” Ms. Dolan concluded. “The visit last February will surely pay off!”

For more information about this conference please visit the website at www.asme.org/events/idetccie.

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