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ESMO, Europe’s most influential annual oncology meeting, comes back to Madrid

The annual ESMO Congress just returned to Madrid, three years after its preceding edition in the Spanish capital. We had the opportunity to talk to Chantal Cornu, ESMO Head of Congresses, about the success of this edition and the evolution of one of the largest and most influential congresses in the world.

Truly global. This was a record-breaking edition for the ESMO congress, with no less than 23,916 participants. This compares with 20,767 in 2016, and makes up a significant increase! An impressive 131 countries were represented, making it clearly the most influential meeting in Europe, attended by professionals from all over the world.

The audience was composed of professionals, 60% of them oncologists. In recognition of the role of patient advocates in supporting and informing patients and caregivers, the ESMO Patient Advocacy Track was integrated into the programme, enabling patient advocates to attend the scientific sessions that are relevant to them as well as the patient advocacy sessions.

From strength to strength. The congress is growing, and while others may have doubts about the future of exhibition areas in congresses, the exhibition area at this congress is booming, and was fully sold out in Madrid. It was extremely well attended by delegates and was a true networking hub. “This industry is being transformed by innovation and our exhibition embodies these new developments and the excitement they bring”, says Chantal.

Compliance. “It is a priority for European congresses like ESMO’s to ensure that the exhibition and the way it is accessed by delegates is fully compliant with all relevant legislation in the country” says Chantal. This priority is not limited to Chantal, and pharma companies also take into account in their way of exhibiting. “Exhibitors focus on scientific information; they offer more interaction to physicians through quizzes and networking opportunities”, says Chantal.

Technology drives an enhanced experience. It was easy for participants to tailor their own programme: ESMO provides a multi-event app so delegates only have to download it once for all the society’s events throughout the year. In this way, ESMO provides a streamlined experience for busy professionals. And figures show the app is a really effective and useful tool: in Madrid, the app had 17,176 downloads and 10,632 active users.

Daily Reporter. There is technology… but paper still lives on with the ritual of the morning newspaper: the congress indeed offers a daily newspaper with the key highlights for each day, which is also published in full on the congress website.

Local experience. “Madrid is a great city for large congresses”, says Chantal. She stresses that “the city offers a quality service, a very complete hotel offering, and efficient transportation”. Another advantage is the partnership with the convention bureau: “Support from the convention bureau is really good, we see a lot of willingness to help”.

The society moves around Europe with its key suppliers (AV, stand builders) who know the congress and the team very well. At the same time, ESMO works with local providers in each country.

What about Ifema? “It is a very practical venue, well laid out and easy for delegates to find their way around. We are very satisfied with our experience” says Chantal. A satisfying second experience in IFEMA in three years!

Finally, a word about the importance of creating the best environment for scientific knowledge exchange: “we like to create a feeling of comfort for delegates who are away from home, a very personal experience. We care about meeting the needs of our delegates so that they can make the most of the congress. So, from power sockets to vegan food, we pay attention to all the details”.