FIDI Conference: It’s a wrap

FIDI Secretary General Jesse van Sas celebrates the successes of the 2024 conference in Edinburgh – and looks forward to building on these at next year’s event in Dubrovnik

As we came to the afterglow of our 2024 FIDI Conference, looking at survey results, debriefing with suppliers, tallying up the figures, and matching budget with actuals, a few things came to my mind when reflecting on our gathering in the beautiful city of Edinburgh.

Judging by the comments, the conference was a hit, with a score of 4.7 out of 5. Of course, the city itself played an important and positive role in this, not to mention the weather, which was miraculously cooperative at the times when we needed it to be.

What I was really pleased about, however, were the many comments we received from delegates that FIDI has the right balance between true networking, content, venue, and entertainment. This is what our conference is all about: meeting your peers in a relaxed atmosphere, away from the daily business, allowing meaningful conversations on the challenges and opportunities we face in the industry today, learning about new trends, and forging lasting relationships.

An increasing number of our attendees are turning away from the one-to-one meetings in lobbies or stuffy meeting rooms. They have decided, instead, to listen in on keynotes, panels, and informative workshops, and to use the receptions, lunches and dinners to mingle with other attendees, who are often unknown to them.

No less than 93 per cent of attendees stated that the conference had helped them to grow their network, which is exactly the purpose of it all. The keynote speech by sustainability expert Lucas Simons was attended by 38 per cent of conference delegates, which is one of the best results in recent years, and just more than 50 per cent attended at least one business session.

This is great – but it means we still have a way to go, as the other half did not attend any business session. We’ll keep working on providing valuable topics for these conference slots, and we are always grateful for your suggestions.

I have to admit that some of the comments received in the survey made me smile – particularly the suggestion that we should have looked for a bigger conference hotel! (Why did we not think of that?)

It does remind me that, no matter how often we communicate, the message often still gets lost along the way. From an organisational standpoint, Edinburgh was a challenge. The city’s largest hotel, our conference hotel, was still not big enough, and combined with more attendees than expected, this gave us some extra grey hairs.

We could count on satellite hotels in the area, and while many of you appreciated the short walk, this was not ideal. At FIDI, we always strive for one hotel for all, preferably downtown. In some cities, however, this is just not possible. Then we have to make the best of it, and communicate about it well in advance, multiple times.

Some of you were disappointed at being given a handout on paper for one excursion, feeling that this was less sustainable. I get this, but please note that, compared with Amsterdam in 2019, the Edinburgh conference was 95 per cent more sustainable in terms of printed materials and conference shipment. If we print anything, it is done locally and only if really needed.

This means we have done away with attendee booklets, printed programmes, conference bags and giveaways, as well as single-use roll-up banners. The conference app, used by 86 per cent of you, helped greatly in replacing all of this formerly printed material.

Overall, the carbon impact of the FIDI Conference has changed dramatically in recent years. We will continue on this road to an even more sustainable event in 2025.

We are encouraged by your appreciation of the efforts made by FIDI staff and the events team for our annual conference, and are happy to see that, as FIDI Focus went to press, 85 per cent of you have decided to attend Dubrovnik next year. Now, we just need to find a hotel that’s big enough

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