The UK Department for International Development (UK DFID), along with co-hosts the International Disability Alliance and the Government of Kenya, set us a brief to organise the first ever Global Disability Summit in London on 24th July, as well as its sister event, the Civil Society Forum, at the same venue on the day before. The 2-day event needed to cater for approximately 1,200 guests each day with and without disabilities, as well as assistants and support staff.
Due to its reputation of being home to a community of pioneering companies and institutions, we thought that Here East in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park would be the perfect venue to hold the summit. We planned and delivered the whole event, with the main 2 areas being event production and delegate management.
In terms of event production, as Here East is a blank canvas venue, we designed the whole layout of the summit ourselves. We organised 3 spotlight rooms, which held multiple spotlight sessions about pressing topics throughout both event days, as well as two marketplaces on the first floor reception which allowed organisations such as Microsoft and Unicef to showcase new policies and technologies for people with disabilities. Other areas we built on the First Floor Reception were relay areas with casual seating, an accessibility zone, 10 meetings pods, a charging point, a quiet area and an information desk. We also managed the creation and printing of event collateral, including programmes, signage, menus, badges, a step-and-repeat wall located on the first floor reception, and what ever else our client needed.
The large 2,385m2 Theatre was where the main sessions were held throughout both event days, often hosting the majority of the guests. It was therefore fundamental that AV requirements were the best they could be. We dealt with all the AV necessities for the event, including lighting and projection screens, as well as extended AV requirements such as captioning and translation. Out on the terrace, we arranged for there to be a sandpit for guide dogs, portable toilets and casual furniture for delegates to network on.
In terms of delegate management, we organised guest registration by creating a bespoke website portal. It was imperative before and during the event that we were prepared for all disabilities; whether that meant making sure the whole venue was wheelchair accessible, or making sure there were plenty of water bowls around the venue for guide dogs. Delegates were also travelling to the event from around the world, which meant we looked after all flights and accommodation, as well as making sure translators were readily available.
In addition to the above, we were responsible for organising catering for the event, provided by in-house caterer Smart Hospitality. We ensured that coffee, tea, water and a selection of pastries and cookies were available to delegates throughout both event days. A wide selection of sandwiches, salads, finger food and sweet treats were also served for lunch on both days, and delicious canapés were served for the evening reception on day one.
We had a team of nearly 200 staff running the event, from AV to meet and greet staff, from catering to security, and from room managers to signers and translators. We ensured absolutely no stone was left unturned.