As an experienced organizer of global international events, we ensure that we plan all our events with immaculate precision, sometimes up to twenty-four months in advance. However, even with the best laid plans, we are not immune to domestic and international occurrences and external factors affecting the venues of our events, which are beyond our control. These occurrences and external factors come in many forms but the most common ones are:
- Medical crises and disasters such as the SARS pandemic
- Inclement weather, transport and travel disruptions
- Civil strife, political disturbances, strikes and wars
- Typhoons, tsunamis, cyclones and other natural disasters (commonly known as “acts of God”)
The scheduling and execution of our events have occasionally been affected by world events, economic difficulties and regional and international developments. Thanks to swift responses, immediate action and quick planning, we have managed to avert “disasters” by changing venues, the timing or scale of events. As in show business, our motto is, as ever, “THE SHOW MUST GO ON” (no matter what)!
The Conference Connection team is well known for its excellence in crisis management and planning skills in difficult conditions, a claim that we do not make lightly and which has been put to the test in the past.
The inaugural Indian Oil and Gas Conference (IOGC) originally scheduled for April 1995 in New Delhi was postponed to September of the same year due to outbreak of the plague. IOGC 95 was an outstanding success with 400 participants. Our partners were the then Tata Energy & Research Institute (TERI) in New Delhi, now re-named The Energy & Resources Institute (TERI). Thereafter IOGC has been successfully held in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2004 and 2006 despite having to face other challenges such as an air traffic controllers’ strike which impeded travel into India and a hung Parliament which affected government participation in this high profile event. IOGC still remains the only event of its kind in India bringing together senior policy makers and senior oil industry executives from India and abroad.
In January 1996, the Fourth Annual Middle East Petroleum and Gas Conference (MPGC) hosted and organized by The Conference Connection Inc and the Bahrain National Oil Company (now re-named the Bahrain Petroleum Company or BAPCO) was held at the Le Meridien Hotel in Bahrain. The conference dinner was disrupted by a bomb scare in the hotel’s spa wing. After security checks and being given the “all clear” signal, conference sessions proceeded as planned the following morning with full attendance. MPGC is now in its 17th year. In 1999, MPGC was held successfully despite the death of the late Emir of Bahrain six weeks prior to the event taking place. In order to hold MPGC as planned, special permission was sought from the Bahraini Parliament to hold the event, albeit on a more modest scale in keeping with the period of mourning normally observed in the Middle East.
In November 2002, the Annual Condensate Forum organized by The Conference Connection Inc in Bali with the support of Pertamina, Indonesia, was moved to Singapore within two days of the bomb blast taking place in Bali, a week before the conference dates. Delegates and speakers were notified and the venue and social events were re-organized at short notice and the conference was held as planned with a larger attendance than what was originally planned for Bali. The Condensate Forum made headlines and our team members were interviewed by major media networks in the aftermath of the blast and re-scheduling.
In 2003, our events were hit with the dual debacle of SARS and the war in Iraq. This was the most challenging time in the history of Conference Connection. Events scheduled for Singapore in the second half of 2003 were moved to Dubai, UAE. The 12th annual MPGC, itself scheduled for Dubai in April 2003 and hosted by the Emirates National Oil Company, was re-scheduled to September 2003 and the MPGC team had to “re-organize” the events with new dates, new speakers and a new marketing plan. The loyal ranks of the MPGC Alumni and Gold Connect Members kept MPGC 2003 and the MPGC flag flying high with its hallmarks of excellence in intellectual debate and networking very much in place.
In 2005, the annual Production Sharing Contracts and International Petroleum Fiscal Systems Course (PSC) being held in Houston, Texas, on August 21-23 had to abandoned on day two when Hurricane Katrina hit. Hurricane Katrina was not only the costliest natural disaster but also one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the USA. It caused severe destruction in the Gulf of Mexico, from central Florida to Texas. Nearly 30 delegates attending from USA, Canada, Nigeria and Trinidad,had to leave the venue at lunchtime, many barely making it out of the city due to heavy traffic. Fortunately, swift action on the part of the organizers again avoided what could have been a tragic situation. The event was rescheduled to December 7-9 in Houston, allowing the same group to re-take the course.
Safety is of paramount importance to Conference Connection. We work closely with venue managers to ensure that all requisite safety features are in place and that all team members on-site have been trained in safety measures, kept up to date on the latest security issues and primed to handle emergencies. One of our criteria for selecting venues for our international venues is whether the site has safety and security certification and to ensure the highest possible standards in keeping with five-star facilities.
In 2011, the global event teams at Conference Connection successfully overcame and ran two key events that were affected by the impact of the Arab Spring in the Middle East and the on-going flood crisis in Thailand.
The 19th Annual Middle East Petroleum & Gas Conference (MPGC 2011) originally scheduled for April 2011 in Bahrain was hit by political unrest in the region and was re-scheduled to October 2011 in Dubai ,and re-organised with a new Patron, new hosts, new dates, new location and a new marketing strategy. The ease of travel and convenience of all participants were the main objectives underscoring the change of timing and location. The move from Bahrain to Dubai, UAE also included five other events held alongside MPGC as part of the Annual Middle East Petroleum and Gas Week and was accomplished with the full support of MPGC’s Bahraini hosts BAPCO and NOGA and the overwhelming endorsement of Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) who graciously came on board as hosts for the October 2011 Dubai venue. MPGC 2011 also enjoyed the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and longtime Patron of MPGC. MPGC’s speakers, sponsors and delegates confirmed for the Bahrain schedule transferred their participation to the October 2011 dates, augmented by new sponsors and speakers who came on board for Dubai. Strong support from attendees allowed MPGC to be held with wide participation from nearly forty countries and on its annual scale and extent and providing an optimal environment for information exchange and networking, that are its hallmarks. In fact attendance at MPGC and Middle East Oil Week events in 2011 in Dubai far surpassed the attendance in 2009 when the events were last held there.
Thailand was engulfed by flooding on 25 July (the worst flooding in 50 years) and the 7th Asian Bitumen 2011 (AsB 2011) was organized in Bangkok right in the middle of the most critical week of Thailand flooding.As safety is always of paramount importance to Conference Connection, the conference connection team and Host (ThaiOil Group) monitored the flood situation round the clock and we worked closely with the venue managers at Siam Kempinski Hotel to ensure that the flood situation was under control with no impact to the safety of participants. Regular updates on the flood situation was communicated to the AsB 2011 participants and eventually this event was successfully held as planned with outstanding support from our partners, speakers, sponsors and delegates which together brought over 100 bitumen industry leaders from 20 countries.
The examples above show how having great teamwork and the ability to react quickly to events has allowed us to rise above potential disasters and turn these to our advantage. The Conference Connection team has been put to the test several times and we are proud to say that each time, we emerged successful and unscathed by events and managed to maintain the high level of quality and professionalism that our clients have come to expect from our events.
6 December 2011