Successfully organising an international congress while working full-time is possible, and worthwhile!
In an interview following the 2018 EANS congress in October, Michaël Bruneau, President of the 18th European Congress of Neurosurgery, clinical director at the Hôpital Erasme, Brussels and visit.brussels ambassador reveals the winning recipe for a successful large-scale congress: a dedicated local committee, an attractive destination and the efficient support of the convention bureau’s team.
The EANS congress took place in October 2018 in Brussels. What is the purpose of the congress?
The European Association of Neurosurgical Societies Congress is an annual pan-European scientific congress and one of the most important scientific meetings for neurosurgeons. It aims to provide the latest developments to neurosurgeons and scientists in the field.
Why was Brussels chosen? What are its advantages over another destination?
A tender to host the 2018 international Congress in a country was launched by the EANS. The bid for Brussels was prepared by the BSN (Belgian Society of Neurosurgery), together with the support of visit.brussels. The bid contained many positive points and the BSN was awarded the organisation of the Congress in Brussels for several reasons:
- Brussels is easily accessed from all over the world
- The SQUARE-BRUSSELS CONVENTION CENTRE is magnificent and ideally located (right in the city centre) and within reach of all the city’s amenities
- Brussels offers a huge range of accommodation
What was the main challenge for the 2018 edition of the Congress? How did you resolve it?
Like many committees, our concern was to attract as many neurosurgeons as possible to attend the congress. Thanks to the strong scientific content and the overall advantages of Brussels, we achieved our objective with a satisfactorily high number of 1700 participants attending the congress.
What is your opinion on the help and support that you have received from visit.brussels?
The visit.brussels team supported us from the start and all through the bidding process. They not only helped us to prepare the bid and our candidature, but two members of the visit.brussels team were also present during the selection meeting and participated actively in answering specific questions by members of the EANS international committee. There is no doubt that their professionalism helped the Belgian Society of Neurosurgery to win the organisation of the congress! It didn’t stop with the bidding process either! visit.brussels provided us with strong organisational, structural, promotional and financial support throughout the entire process, from preparations for the event to the end of the congress.
You are a renowned neurosurgeon and research scientist and you have a full-time job. How easy (or difficult) was it to organise the congress?
It was indeed a huge task. The EANS team gave considerable support to the scientific committee, and AIM, the Professional Congress Organiser (PCO) provided invaluable help from the organisational point of view.
The SQUARE-BRUSSELS CONVENTION CENTRE is also an ideal location. It is easily accessible: it has multiple possible set-ups and meeting spaces that can accommodate up to several thousand people.
What three qualities most appeal to you about Brussels?
- Its friendliness
- Its cultural wealth
- Its good public transport network
What did your participants think of the EANS social events they experienced in Brussels?
All the participants were very pleased they attended! Those who were present at the networking dinner held in the Autoworld museum were impressed and loved the atmospheric lighting and being entertained among historic cars. It is a great location.
The gala dinner at the Palais d’Egmont, a former stately home that today houses the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was also memorable for its elegance and sophistication!
What would you recommend to international delegates if they could only visit one place in Brussels?
It would definitely be the Grand-Place – a must-see!
For those who have a bit more time I would recommend they wander through Brussels’ historic streets and visit the city’s top museums.
If a delegate has four hours to spare to get the feel of the city and wants to spend 100 euros, what would you suggest he do?
Go to the Grand-Place, have a beer, eat a waffle, and buy some chocolates to take back home!
Warm thanks to Michaël Bruneau and the BSN members for bringing the EANS Congress in Brussels