Client: International Symposium on Equine Reproduction

Type of event: Residential Conference

Group size: 300

Venue(s): Churchill College, King's College, National Heritage Museum Newmarket

Background

The International Symposium on Equine Reproduction (ISER) is a global organisation of reproductive equine scientists, which meets every four years in a different location around the world.

Forty-four years ago, the first meeting was held in Cambridge and it returned in 2018, organised by a local committee of 12-15 volunteers which included David Dugdale, a practising veterinary surgeon working in Newmarket and Louise Holder as Honorary Secretary.

Brief

Louise starts the story: “As an organisation we have charitable status and our aim with our Symposia is to break even financially and if we do make a profit, it goes back to the Trust. We try to keep registration fees as low as possible so that young people working in the scientific community can attend and in order to do this, we have to attract sponsorship.

“Thanks to David’s excellent connections in the Cambridge area, we were able to bring in more than £150,000 which enabled us to keep the cost as low as possible. Being in Cambridge also meant we were able to use university-type accommodation rather than hotels which helped.

“The scientific sessions are always at the heart of our meetings and choosing to return to Cambridge, enabled us to tap into the world-leading practitioners located here. We were also blessed by having Newmarket just down the road, so we could access equine expertise and connections.”

Event

David continues: “In terms of finding a venue to accommodate our delegates, we experienced some challenges in Cambridge. The committee took the decision to cap attendance at 275 this year to include 150 presenting delegates, as well as scientists and sponsors, with a maximum of 300 for the Conference Dinner.

“We looked at a number of different venues before choosing Churchill College which coped well with our numbers but our challenge underlined the real need in Cambridge for a larger lecture theatre.

“As part of the five-day event, we wanted our international delegates to enjoy the Cambridge Experience and so we booked our Conference Dinner at King’s College which was a wonderful event. We also used See Cambridge Differently to co-ordinate the accompanying persons’ tours which included a walking tour of Cambridge, punting, visit to the Botanical Gardens and a day trip to the Suffolk Wool Towns.
 

One afternoon and evening everyone enjoyed a visit to the National Heritage Museum in Newmarket which was followed by a polo match and barbeque at Hare Park. This gave delegates and their spouses the chance to visit the town and its world-famous equine industry.
 
“Meet Cambridge was excellent in helping us to organise this event. They put together all the information we needed at the bid stage and it’s fair to say that without their help, Cambridge would not have won. Throughout this process, they were always on hand to give advice and information, sharing in-depth local knowledge and ideas.”

Feedback

Louise concluded: “We had wonderful feedback from delegates who recognised Cambridge as a very special place and we hope it will leave a lasting impression among those who attended. It was very fitting that we could return here so that a different generation of scientists could share the magic.

“Cambridge as a destination is definitely a major draw in attracting delegates. Although we capped our numbers at 275, we had a waiting list of more than 100 others who were unable to attend. Everyone wanted to visit the city where DNA was discovered and to experience the excitement of the Cambridge, as those delegates did 44 years ago.”