Throughout 2018 three major international medical conferences were hosted in Glasgow: the World Federation of Hemophilia World Congress; World Down Syndrome Congress and the International Symposium on ALS/MND. Approximately 700 delegates, roughly 10% of those who attended these conferences were living with the conditions under discussion.
To ensure Glasgow gave the warmest and most appropriate welcome to all attendees, Glasgow Convention Bureau partnered with Glasgow Welcomes and VisitScotland to offer free educational sessions designed to help taxi drivers, staff at the transport hubs, Scottish Event Campus, hotels, restaurants and visitor attractions better understand the requirements of delegates who would soon be arriving in Glasgow. These sessions were led by experts from each of the association alongside local people living with these conditions, to ensure customer facing staff across the city were fully prepared to give a warm, educated and appropriate welcome.
Aileen Crawford, Head of Conventions at Glasgow Convention Bureau, said: “Glasgow has been cited as one of the world’s friendliest cities and the People Make Glasgow Welcome initiative epitomises how Team Glasgow supports and works with our conference organisers to gain a fuller understanding of our delegates’ needs. The educational sessions ensured Glasgow was ready to welcome all delegates to these conferences and have left a lasting legacy on the city, benefiting both Glaswegians and future visitors living with these conditions.”
Glasgow was the first conference city in the world to create such a bespoke educational programme for their conference delegates. To support the associations as they move to their future conference locations, the Glasgow Convention Bureau presented each client with a video of their educational sessions to help them prepare the hospitality industry of their next host city.
Feedback from each of the associations following their partnership with Glasgow has been extremely positive.
Craig Stockton, CEO of MND Scotland, commented: “As well supporting people with MND, and funding research for a cure, we want everyone with MND to be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. The awareness sessions we ran for Glasgow’s hospitality industry gave people an understanding of what MND is, how it affects people, and how best to accommodate someone with the illness. These practical tips and advice can be used long after the symposium leaves Scotland.”
Pandora Summerfield, CEO of Down’s Syndrome Scotland said: “The awareness sessions allowed us to ensure Glasgow’s tourism and hospitality businesses have current and accurate knowledge about Down’s syndrome today and how to positively include and support people with the disability, whichever their area of business. This then meant they were prepared to welcome and support people who have Down’s syndrome from all over the world to have a wholly positive experience during their visit to Glasgow.
She added: “Two of our Lead Commissioners, Andrew Macintyre and Stuart Campbell also co-delivered the sessions and proved to the audience that having Down’s syndrome doesn’t stop you from doing things, they gave a clear message that having a disability doesn’t define who you are and to remember that anyone who has a disability is a person first.”