Organising a congress – Stockholm 2016

BEST PRACTICES
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2 Best practises from the organisers of the 2016 EABCT Congress in Stockholm, organised by the 2 Swedish CBT associations SACBT and SABT.
source: the congress blog on eabct2016.org

1 – Making a bid and deciding on a venue
Once it was decided that the two swedish CBT-associations wanted to host the EABCT congress in Sweden 2016, we had to investigate how we could make this happen. We found that in EABCT you have to make a formal bid to host a future congress. In a structured bid-document (you can check it out yourself by clicking this link) we had to answer questions about which convention centre we wanted to use, how many rooms of different capacity the centre has, details on audio and visual equipment, catering, transportation in the host city, information on accommodation, climate, planned number of parallell sessions, and much more. At this point in time (fall 2011), we were unsure if we would have enough time to prepare a good bid before the first general meeting of the representantives (1GM) of EABCT in March 2012, but we knew that we had to try.

Me (Björn Paxling) and Kristoffer NT Månsson were responsible for the bid, and Kristoffer had the idea to contact tourist officials in Stockholm city to ask for support and guidance. We got a fast reply from Clary Rapp (then Project Manager, today Marketing Manager for Association Meetings, at Stockholm Convention Bureau) and she provided us with all the help we could dream of.

Together, we started working on the bid where Clary had all information about Stockholm as a destination, and me and Kristoffer worked on the congress-specific information.To find the best possible venue, Clary arranged for a day full of convention centre visists in early 2012. We were given tours of StockholmsmässanStockholm Waterfront Congress CentreStockholm City Conference CentreKistamässan, as well as Stockholm City Hall where we wished to have a formal reception if possible. All congress centres that we visited would have been suitable for our congress, with different pros and cons for each one, but the one we instantly fell in love with was Stockholm Waterfront Congress Center! We found that the great location next to the Stockholm central station combined with jaw-dropping architecture and modern and configurable congress rooms would make it the ideal choice for EABCT 2016.

2 – Presenting the bid in Geneva
So, our bid to host the 2016 EABCT congress was finished and had been sent in to the EABCT board. The first meeting of EABCT in Geneva March 2012 was drawing nearer, and me and Kristoffer was anxiously preparing our presentation of the bid. We received the agenda and documents for the meeting, and found out that Bulgaria had also submitted a bid to host the congress the same year.

Once we both were in Geneva, we took a walk alongside the beautiful waters of lake Geneva, perfectly framed by the majestic mountains. We talked about the state of CBT in Sweden, how we could best impress the board and representatives with our bid, and what our dreams were for the EABCT2016 congress if we managed to take it to Sweden.

The first general meetings of each year in EABCT (1GM) are always held in March, and are held with representatives of each member association in EABCT as well as the board. The meeting lasts for about seven hours and the agenda covers strategic plans, special interest groups, EABCTs finances, upcoming congresses, and much more. When it was our turn to present our bid we began by focusing on the history of our two association, how they have not always been in collaboration, and that this congress was the biggest combined project we had ever taken upon ourselves. We tried to show Stockholm as a great destination with radiant photos, we gave an outline of the positive aspects of Waterfront Congress Center, we talked about Karolinska Institutet as well as the Nobel Price in association to the scientific aspects of the congress, and historical aspects when Sweden has influenced CBT was highlighted. Our presentation was well received, and we handed over a print version of our bid to Rod Holland, who was then the president of EABCT. No representative from the Bulgarian association was  present at the meeting at this time, so there were no further bids presented.

After the meeting was finished, we were guided to a cozy local restaurant and had a great time with the reps and the board. The decision on whether Sweden or Bulgaria would be chosen as hosts for the 2016 congress was not to be taken until the 2GM meeting in September (also to be held in Geneva). We now had to change focus for a while, from the international EABCT congress, to the national CBT congress we had decided to organize in order to bring our members together and to test our collaboration in a bigger project.

Björn Paxling – president SABT Sweden

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