More than technical expertise required for the 35th International Geological Congress

INHOUSE Venue Technical Management (IVTM), supported by the Cape Town branch of Gearhouse South Africa, (a team of 82 technicians), were extremely proud to deliver a successful service for the 35th IGC – International Geological Congress. Cape Town International Convention Centre and the Westin Cape Town hotel hosted over 4000 delegates between 27 August and 5 September 2016.

In a single week of congress, over 5000 abstract presentations were pushed to IVTM technicians, in all of the venues within the Centre and across the way at The Westin, via Speaker Preparation support by Prosperis, the preferred ICT service provider to CTICC.

According to the IVTM CTICC technical team, successfully planning and managing the technical elements of a congress of this size, requires three important factors from the outset; namely:

  • Detailed planning - each venue's equipment including precise cabling requirements and crew had to be planned in detail and entered on checklists, prior to the load in.
  • Excellent and pro-active communication on the floor - achieved mostly via many messenger groups running throughout the week.
  • Excellent team management skills during the congress.

Technically speaking, the top level Audio Visual and Audio team in the main plenary in Auditorium 1 made use of the specialist control of AV; Spyder, Watch out and Screen Pro multi-display control systems for overflow relay into three other large venues. All other venues had PA and screens, each having a speaker prep presentation laptop and an auxiliary laptop to control the countdown timer software. Sets, Drapes & Screens(SDS) another of the Gearhouse Group, supplied their brand new borderless 12m x 4.5m screens for the Main Plenary and the 8m x 4.5m borderless screens in the Exhibition areas.

However, according to the IVTM's Project Manager at CTICC, Tracy Morris "Although the technical aspects ran completely to plan, managing people quickly became the most important factor in ensuring that this congress flowed smoothly."

For the IVTM crew, acting as supervisors at different floor levels, supported by many freelance professionals in venues, the main requirement was to keep presenters' talks within the allocated time slot per speaker. The clients – Lesley Ferreira of Cebisa Conferences jointly with Crystal Kasselman of Centeq Events, were very specific about the fact that should any of the technical team allow sessions to skip ahead or run late, the knock on effect for over 5000 presentations could jeopardise the success of the entire Congress. So "time management" became the name of the game and the pressure increased when the inevitable last minute venue and presenter reshuffles occurred within an already "jam-packed" programme.

Each session had a different session "chairperson" and the technicians were instructed that even if the session chair was lenient with the presenters, the technicians still needed to blank the screen at the 14 or 29 min mark. Needless to say, the team – who are normally happy to only manage technical – needed to manage new challenges in Session Chairmen and perturbed presenters for the first time. Some of them were removed from their comfort zone initially, as this is the complete antithesis of their normal – "be helpful"– approach. To assist the staff on the ground, IVTM printed out a quick instruction page for the Session Chairs, so they understood that the technicians were simply playing their part.

As the congress progressed, the technical team managed this new element extremely well – finding a friendly, but assertive approach and directing the chairs to the instruction sheet while continuing to cut presentations at the correct times.

"This all highlighted to us, once again, how important it is for technicians to develop their people skills as well as their technical skills, especially when working in corporate venues and on international congresses/conferences.

"In reality, our technicians are our active marketers/sales people on the floor. If they show initiative, pro-activeness and are attentive to client's requirements (e.g. a presenter faltering at a lectern – and they move quickly to their assistance) – then they are the ones that the client notices and the reason why we receive thank you mails " said Tracy Morris, Project Manager of the IVTM team at CTICC. " This one was an interesting learning curve for the team and an experience that will stand us in good stead on future congresses on this scale. I think my team feel that they can handle just about anything at this stage. Bring on the next one"

Event in numbers

  • 4050 Delegates
  • 7 days – 16hrs/day on site
  • Over 5000 PPT Presentations.
  • 44+ venues with AV & Sound solutions.
  • 1050 Silent sessions Headphones used each day.
  • 82+ Staff on site for IVTM/GHSA only
  • 1 happy client & Local Organising committee

Story by Tracey Morris, Photo courtesy INHOUSE Venue Technical Management

Sep 19, 2016

The Gearhouse Group of Companies