Two years ago, Sigma Nursing was searching North America for a destination to host this year’s 30th International Research Congress. The event, which usually welcomes about 900 medical professionals, is held in a new location every year in one of Sigma’s seven global regions. For 2019, the organization really wanted to find a city that was easy to get to for their international attendees and offered a one-of-kind experience. Calgary ended up being the perfect fit for the July 25-29 event.
“Calgary checked all the boxes, [including] a great international airport, the proximity of the city to the airport, and safety for our attendees,” Sigma Events Manager Joni Wallman tells PCMA. “The size of the Telus Convention Centre and its location near Stephen Avenue was the perfect match for what our attendees look for at this meeting.”
The Telus Convention Centre — which offers 122,000 square feet of convention space, more than 47,000 square feet of exhibit space, five pre-function areas, and 36 meeting rooms — proved to be an ideal venue for the congress. Delegates were able to attend education sessions while immersing themselves in the unique culture of the Stampede City. Plus, right near the venue is Stephen Avenue, a major pedestrian mall featuring restaurants, shopping, and entertainment options for attendees.
Some highlights of the research congress this year included a Western night at Girletz Ranch, providing an authentic Calgary experience — complete with homemade barbecue and wagon rides. The rodeo ranch is available for corporate buyouts and can accommodate up to 1,200 people. Sigma attendees went to the Western night dressed in their best cowboy gear. “The conference really embraced Calgary,” says Janelle Shields, Meetings + Conventions Calgary’s marketing and communications coordinator, “and vice versa.”
Great time was had by all at the Calgary's Wild West Cultural Celebration – part of @SigmaNursing INRC 2019. Amazing trick horse riding – see photo. #INRC19 @Sigma_CEO @BethTigges @Julie_J_Adams @STTIPub @RichardRicciar3 @MHowardRN @Mercedes_Juany @withmax @Thafsteins pic.twitter.com/atHzyDXPCw
— Richard Ricciardi (@RichardRicciar3) July 29, 2019
@SigmaNursing Bus #3 is ready to go to the #INRC19 Cultural Event. Go Sigma Nursing! @Sigma_CEO @BethTigges @Mercedes_Juany @withmax @NCLEXprof @Julie_J_Adams @VlasichC @STTIJoni pic.twitter.com/LMtNo6vLDh
— Matt Howard (@MHowardRN) July 28, 2019
In fact, the event was such a success that Sigma saw record-breaking attendance and received a record amount of social media impressions. More than 1,300 professionals went to Calgary for the conference and by promoting the congress via a hashtag, #INRC19, the group received more than 18 million social media impressions from the event — significantly more than at any other prior conference. According to Wallman, this couldn’t have been achieved without the hands-on support of the Meetings + Conventions Calgary team.
“They made us feel welcome,” says Wallman. Not only did they help with the “extras,” she explains, like recommending local talent and off-site venues, but “they literally rolled out the red carpet for our members with signage and photo opportunities. Calgary made our job as meeting planners very easy.”