|Host City||Brisbane, Australia|
|Venue||Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre (BCEC)|
|Date||2012 - May|
ABOUT THE CONGRESS
The International Child Neurology Congress (ICNC) has been running for almost 40 years and this was only the second time it was held in Australia. It was also just the third time in the event’s history that it was staged in conjunction with the more regionally-focussed Asian and Oceanian Congress of Child Neurology (AOCCN). Both these events share a common goal to improve care for children with neurological disorders.
Delegates came from all corners of the globe, including very strong representation from Asia. They included neurologists, paediatricians, general practitioners, nursing staff, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, psychologists and physiotherapists.
CONVENTION BUREAU SUPPORT
Brisbane won the right to host the 2012 event due to the successful bid presented by the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre (BCEC), which was won in partnership with the Brisbane Marketing Convention Bureau. Dr Kate Riney, Consultant Paediatric Neurologist and Epileptologist at the University of Queensland and Mater Children's Hospital was Co-Chair of the Local Organising Committee. She indicated it was a clear win for Brisbane, which submitted a ‘very professional and compelling bid.’ Dr Riney said that the strength and professionalism of Brisbane’s bid, along with factors such as generous support funding and the allure of Brisbane as Australia’s New World City of ideas, innovators and industry makers all combined to secure the congress and ensure its success.
An added bonus was that Brisbane also has a strong profile in the field of child neurology, which is expected to be further enhanced by the delivery of a new AUD$1.5 billion Queensland Children’s Hospital due to open in the city in late 2014.
As the official Convention Bureau for Brisbane, the Brisbane Marketing Convention Bureau is responsible for promoting the city nationally and internationally as a Business Events destination. In association with its member partners, the Convention Bureau plays a key role in securing events for Brisbane by providing meeting planners and event organisers with free advice, support and a wide range of services. One of the many winning factors for Brisbane was the financial contribution which came from the Brisbane City Conference and Accommodation Bid Fund, which is administered by the Convention Bureau. It assisted towards travel bursaries for trainee and student neurologists from developing countries such as Nigeria, India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka and also covered the travel and accommodation costs for the congress’ drawcard international keynote speaker, Professor Hideyuki Okano. The Bid Fund receives contributions from the Convention Bureau, the BCEC, the hotel sector and key convention partners and is used to enhance Brisbane’s support for major international meetings.
The Convention Bureau also assisted with a targeted marketing campaign to attract strong delegate attendance in Brisbane. This included promotion at the preceding ICNC event in Cairo, Egypt and also at other relevant meetings around the globe. Promotional collateral included postcards, flyers, business cards, banners and posters, a tailor-made ‘Welcome to Brisbane’ video and a PowerPoint slide presentation. All the promotional collateral costs were covered by the Convention Bureau.
On arrival in Brisbane, delegates were offered a special Airtrain discount fare for travel to and from Brisbane Airport. Pocket-size maps and Brisbane Insider Guides were supplied for delegate satchels and a complimentary Brisbane Marketing Visitor Information Desk was established at the Convention Centre for the duration of the conference.
Brisbane Marketing Convention Bureau General Manager Rob Nelson said “We were delighted that delegate numbers at the 2012 Congress ended up exceeding expectations. The event attracted so many international delegates, the majority of whom were visiting Brisbane for the first time. The Convention Bureau was very glad to be able to contribute towards the success of the congress.”
An education bonus for Australia
The local organising committee encouraged and supported the coordination of a number of satellite meetings in various capital cities around Australia to coincide with the Brisbane congress, enabling broader access to its educational benefits.
Importantly, Australia’s paediatric neurology field benefited from the Congress being held in Brisbane, with event profits earmarked to help finance improved local education in the field, as has traditionally been the case wherever the international congress is held.
Brisbane provides a taste of Australia
Delegates stayed at a range of Brisbane city hotels, all within walking distance of the convention centre.
The mild Brisbane weather enabled many delegates to get outdoors and experience the city and surrounds, with feedback indicating that they very much enjoyed the climate and the friendly, relaxed attitude of the local Brisbane people.
A strong Australiana and Queensland theme ran through all aspects of the congress, from conference sessions through to creative local cuisine and entertainment. The conference logo reflected the distinctive colours of Queensland and stylised boomerang-shaped artwork, whilst reef and rainforest imagery was included in the conference programme as well as on the website, conference session slides and delegate satchels.
The Welcome Reception held in The Great Hall of the BCEC included a performance by the Nunukkal Juggera Indigenous Dancers who gave an entertaining introduction to Australia’s ancient Indigenous culture through song and dance. Roving animal handlers from Australia Zoo provided an opportunity for delegates to get up close and personal with some of Australia’s unique fauna including reptiles and koalas, which proved to be a highlight for international delegates.
The opening day of sessions included a spectacular ‘Welcome to Country’ presentation by Indigenous mezzo-soprano, Maroochy Barambah.
An entertainment highlight of the gala dinner held at the BCEC was the Queensland Children’s Choir with 70 children aged from three upwards performing a selection of typically ‘Aussie’ ballads.
The Convention Bureau also developed a PDF Widget “Discover Brisbane’s Best Tours” for the conference website featuring 16 different tours around Brisbane. These included Australia Zoo, Moreton Bay and the Islands, City Sights and the Story Bridge Climb with delegates able to make direct advance bookings, with a simple click of a mouse, to enjoy Brisbane and its surrounds.
The congress was a great success - scientifically, socially and financially. Organisers advised that the financial outcomes far exceeded any previous ICNA or AOCNA meeting. The congress also achieved significant outcomes at a global level, by delivering education to clinicians who might not otherwise have had access to it.
“We were very pleased with the excellent global turnout. Brisbane is a beautiful and energetic city, and it was the first visit for many delegates. The Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre has world class conference facilities and could easily cater for such a large group. We also had support from terrific local conference planners who gave us great ideas and ensured everything ran really smoothly. Overall, I’m thrilled with the success of the congress, and the feedback we’re receiving shows that our delegates were very impressed too.”
Dr Kate Riney, Co-Chair of the Local Organising Committee
Delegates were effusive about the congress and the appeal of Brisbane as the host city, with many advising that it was the best child neurology meeting they had ever attended. Arushi Saini from Chendigarh, Northern India, was one of the trainee paediatric neurologists who received a travel bursary via funds from the Brisbane City Conference and Accommodation Bid Fund. She said the conference provided her with an opportunity to meet and listen to experts and be exposed to world’s best practice in her field. “The sessions were so good and so important to me, it was hard to choose.” On her first visit to Brisbane, Arushi said Brisbane was a beautiful place and its people generous and helpful. Outside of the congress sessions, many delegates nominated the opportunity to cuddle a koala as a special highlight of their visit.
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