Case study: Austria Center Vienna & ISEA

Austria Center Vienna won the battle of venues to host a major sports conference

Challenge: Sponsors had to withdraw
Challenge: Sponsors had to withdraw

Pre-event planning

The International Sports Engineering Association (ISEA) holds a biennial conference to facilitate networking among members and the dissemination of scientific findings. The 2008 event took place in Biarritz and it was decided in 2007 that the 8th International Conference on the Engineering of Sport would go to Vienna in 2010.

The organising committee considered a number of venues before settling on the Austria Center Vienna. These included Reed Exhibitions' Messe Wien, the Hofburg Congress Center and the MuseumsQuartier.

Stefan Litzenberger, deputy head of the Department of Sports Engineering and Biomechanics at Austria's University of Applied Sciences, explains: "The MuseumsQuartier is a hip location in the heart of the city but it did not have enough halls of an adequate size. The Hofburg Congress Center is a very prestigious location but was not affordable.

"We chose the Austria Center Vienna based on price, the catering services, technical infrastructure and the size.

We required at least three rooms, one of them able to accommodate more than 300 people, to run parallel sessions and an exhibition space."

Challenges

The conference relies on sponsorship and registration fees to finance the event. Some organisations and companies had signed up as sponsors up to two years before the conference but, as the effects of the economic crisis began to take their toll, many withdrew their support. ISEA also saw fewer delegates sign up for the 2010 conference, with many institutions and companies citing the economic downturn as the reason.

Solution

Fortunately, the ISEA organising committee had a fallback plan to finance the event, with the host university agreeing to make up the deficit. Litzenberger acknowledges that with hindsight they would have increased the registration fees slightly from EUR550 (£470) for members and EUR660 (£565) for non-members.

The conference still managed to draw 246 delegates from around the world. Professional congress organiser Austropa Interconvention arranged for the official carrier, Austrian Airlines, to offer delegates a 15 per cent discount.

Three keynote speeches were made by internationally renowned scientists and 195 presentations were given over the four days, with sessions running simultaneously throughout three auditoria. Approximately 15 exhibitors also participated in the event.

The social programme included sporting events, such as indoor climbing, a beach volleyball tournament and a cycling tour of Vienna. On one of the evenings delegates were invited to a banquet at a traditional Austrian wine tavern known as a Heurigen. The conference website also gave information on places to visit, including the Schonbrunn Palace, a Unesco Heritage site.

Results

Although no official post-event analysis was conducted, the organising committee will share its experiences and advise the host city for the 2012 event - Lowell, Massachusetts in the USA. Litzenberger says: "Feedback from delegates was great and we would certainly go back to the venue. The catering was really excellent and, despite it being the height of summer and temperatures topping 35 degC, the air-conditioning was perfect."

FACTFILE
Client: International Sports Engineering Association
Event: 8th International Conference on the Engineering of Sport
Group size: 246 delegates
PCO: Austropa Interconvention
Date: 12-16 July 2010
Venue: Austria Center Vienna
Budget: Undisclosed

TIMELINE

2007: Vienna selected as the host city for the 2010 conference

April 2008: Austria Center Vienna chosen as the venue for the 2010 conference

June 2008: 7th International Conference on the Engineering of Sport takes place in Biarritz

Jan 2010: Online delegate registration opens

July 2010: The 8th International Conference on the Engineering of Sport takes place in Vienna.

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