The American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Annual Meeting (ASCO) is the largest oncology congress in the world, and a key congress for multiple BCD Meetings & Events customers. Prior to the pandemic, over 40,000 people would travel to Chicago in early June for this annual congress, and attendance is expected to be close to this in 2022!
Our teams manage various pieces of logistics for our different customers throughout ASCO. Here’s a behind the scenes peek at some of the action:
ASCO Annual Meeting, Day 1 - Tuesday, May 31
Most of the BCD Meetings & Events team arrives in Chicago. Some are traveling just a short car ride into the city, others are flying in from halfway around the world. It’s a couple of days before most ASCO delegates arrive, and the airport is busy with leisure travelers heading home from an extended holiday weekend. Chicago O’Hare is ready for ASCO- there are signs throughout welcoming delegates, and sponsored signs featuring products and booth information.
ASCO Annual Meeting, Day 2 - Wednesday, June 1
A group of BCD Meetings & Events staff arrive at the McCormick Center in a rented box truck to collect the badges and congress materials for a client’s large group delegation. The team cross-checks the hundreds of badges before leaving the congress center to ensure everyone is included. ASCO required all registered delegates to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination, and so our team is only able to collect badges for those that have completed the verification process. Our strong communication plan has educated delegates on this requirement- and we are able to collect 80% of the group’s badges.
The congress bags are counted and loaded into the truck in specific quantities to prepare to drop off at each of the hotels the delegation is staying in. Once everything is cross-checked and loaded, the truck heads north to deliver materials!
A different BCD Meetings & Events team meets for an hour for a formal staff briefing. The agenda includes highlights of the client’s schedule for the week, a review of VIPs, and a reminder of COVID-19 protocols. The team expects that at least one person from their delegation will test positive during the busy week, so the group reviews notification and quarantine protocols.
With so many teams onsite in a single destination, BCD Meetings & Events hosts an internal kick-off reception for all staff in Chicago! This is the final night the team will be able to relax before client-hosted evening events begin. Everyone enjoys meeting new colleagues and visiting with those they haven’t seen since 2019, while overlooking Lake Michigan.
ASCO Annual Meeting, Day 3 - Thursday, June 2
The first ancillary meeting of the day begins with breakfast, so the BCD Meetings & Events lead for the meeting arrives early to check the room set up and ensure the food is served as requested.
Today is a critical setup day for the expo suites at the McCormick Center. The BCD Meetings & Events Meeting Manager overseeing one client’s group of suites heads to the East Building where the suites are located. She spends the day working with the various vendors to ensure the correct furniture, signage, AV equipment, power drops, etc. are delivered and set in each suite.
Delegates are arriving in Chicago. A group from Latin America arrives at their hotel after an overnight flight and is disappointed they are not able to check in to their rooms immediately. The BCDMeetings & Events staff member greeting them works with the hotel to store their luggage, arrange a nice breakfast, and sets a plan in motion to notify the group as soon as their rooms are ready.
A client VIP decides to cancel their dinner for this evening which has been confirmed for weeks. The BCD Meetings & Events Congress Manager notifies their Operations Director of the cancellation and notes that there will be a significant cancellation penalty. The Operations Director works with her lead client contact to identify another group from the company in need of a reservation, thus avoiding the cancellation fee.
ASCO Annual Meeting, Day 4 - Friday, June 3
The expo suites at the McCormick Center are officially open. The BCD Meetings & Events team is onsite ready to greet meeting attendees and direct them to the correct room for their meeting. As each HCP enters the correct meeting room, the BCD Meetings & Events staff person verifies their name and collects their signature for compliance purposes.
Before official ASCO sessions (and the blackout time) begins at 1pm, several clients hold pre-congress ancillary meetings in hotels throughout the city. With ASCO 2022 being one of the first major in-person congresses since 2019, clients and HCPs are eager to meet in-person to discuss new data and share recent experiences. However, meeting sponsors also recognize the effectiveness of virtual and hybrid meetings in reaching those that cannot travel, and in avoiding unnecessary mass gatherings when COVID-19 is still very much present.
At a client’s request, BCD Meetings & Events has worked with the client’s production company to turn a hotel meeting room into a broadcast studio. Final preparations are underway for the first-morning broadcast, scheduled to begin within the hour.
ASCO’s sessions begin meaning that the largest post-pandemic medical congress is officially underway. The BCD Meetings & Events teams around Chicago are now one-third of the way through their busy weeks, with operations smoothly humming along.
Medical Congresses have a renewed importance in the post-pandemic world, and streamlined delegate support and ancillary meetings is even more critical to HCPs. To learn more about how BCD Meetings & Events could support you on your next congress experience, visit us here.