Host City: What are the rights holders of major congresses looking for from host cities – what are the most important requirements?
Carola van der Hoeff: If you look across the whole world, bidding cities and countries are so different in terms of what they can offer.
The financial support they get from the city, province or country is an important issue.
The cost of the venue is an important aspect, also the price of general things like food and drink, and travel from the airport to the hotels to downtown.
We also look at safety, especially for our participants.
What is especially important for us is to make sure we have a member association in that country, to make sure we have a connection. Without a member association we will never go to that country.
Host City: That’s very similar to major sports and cultural events, where security and robust backing from the hosting authorities are both crucial.
Carola van der Hoeff: We also realise that in Europe there are some cities that can support financially, while there are others that just don’t have this in place. But that does not necessarily mean we will not decide to go there, because there may be other benefits.
For example, Amsterdam is very attractive for participants – it’s easy to reach. And we know that in Europe we have a higher number of participants – that’s based on historical data. So, it’s not just about finance, but it can play a big role.
Host City: What impact does hosting a major scientific congress have on the city?
Carola van der Hoeff: For the city, it’s like a business. Congress participants bring a lot of money, in terms of hotel stays and dinners.
We have 3,500 participants over four to five days in the city; so that gives a lot of exposure.
We also know that legacy is an important item for associations at the moment: what can we do for the city and the country in the specific sector that we are in, i.e. pharmacy.
We have our World Congress this year in Glasgow. If you look at Glasgow it’s important that local people understand what pharmacists can do for them – not only dispensing medicines but also providing advice.
Host City: How would you describe your experience of working with Glasgow as a host city?
Carola van der Hoeff: For the past couple of years, we have been working with the Glasgow Convention Bureau and the support they have been giving us exceeds all expectations.
Their expertise and professional way of working make it very easy to work in Glasgow and to organise our event.
Host City: How far ahead do you have host cities lined up after Glasgow 2018?
Carola van der Hoeff: We are just deciding now on the host for 2021 and about to open the bid process for 2022. We have a bid document that people can get form us.
But for us, it’s very important that if a city wants to bid for a congress they have to engage with our member organisation in their country. For example, for Glasgow we are working with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in the UK, in London.
Host City: Do you have any advice for destinations interested in bidding for 2022?
Carola van der Hoeff: The best advice is always to contact the national association to get a bit more knowledge about the congress and to discuss the requirements. Every congress has specific requirements; it’s important to get to know your client.
Host City: It sounds very much like it’s something that develops through dialogue, which is interesting because it’s the new approach that the IOC is taking for the Olympic Games; they are shaping their bidding process as an invitation and a conversation, rather than simply a submission of a bid document.
Carola van der Hoeff: Yes, for me that’s very important too. I think it’s a good way forward, because it is so important to know what the event is about and to be very clear about what you are bidding for.
Carola van der Hoeff is Chief Operating Officer and Congress Director at International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), the global federation gathering 140 national associations of pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists. She is responsible for overseeing the organisation's daily operations and enhancing internal processes to help the non-profit grow and fulfil its mission. Before joining FIP, she worked for more than 16 years as a Professional Congress Organiser.
The FIP World Congress 2018 takes place on 2 to 6 September in Glasgow.
Carola van der Hoeff is speaking at Host City 2018, the largest meeting of sports, business and cultural events, on 20 to 21 November 2018, also in Glasgow.