The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Frontiers of Development Symposium
Symposium - 2020 | Istanbul
The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Frontiers of Development symposium took place in Istanbul on March 2020 with 60 attendees. Our client is based in UK but attendees came from all around the world. It was a 3 full day meeting along with sightseeing tours and outside dinners. This rather common brief turned into a unique one due to its March 2020 date – the month when coronavirus took over the world!
Like in most events, this event itself had its own challenges with tons of details hidden in the program but the biggest one was of course operating under the pandemic.
Event took place just few days before most countries went into lock down.
The hygiene, social distancing, PPE protocols & procedures were not yet dictated by authorities.
Until the last day the number of guests was not definite as every day each country started applying new restrictions. Some guests and even some speakers couldn’t fly to Istanbul as their borders were closed. And we found out about these changes literally on the spot.
We have longtime partnership with all our suppliers which made our life easier as always. We coordinated with all of them and with our team members immediately and seamlessly and decided on how we should handle the onsite operations in the safest way. We put hand sanitizers and wet wipes in our guests welcome kits. We also put them all around meeting rooms, lounges, in the busses. The buffet items were all served separately and wrapped. No team member, hotel staff stayed closed to any of the guests. We made the capacities lower in each transfer vehicle. We coordinated the food services for the outside dinner venues and made them serve dishes in certain ways.
What most helped us during this operation is ; being in business for almost half a century and knowing that the health & safety of our guests and teams always come first. A lot of precautions which we took with our decades long experience then became standard operating procedures during the pandemic. Before knowing the event rules during the pandemic, we had applied most of them and we are proud to report that we had no incidents.
Final challenge was that few speakers couldn’t make it to Istanbul, they literally were turned away at airports as their borders got closed that very moment. So at the last minute we had to create online conference systems and connected to them online. The meeting became a “hybrid” event before hybrid events became the norm.