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Looking back on Les Assises 2020 in Monaco with Sophie Guérin, CEO of the DG Consultants agency

 
 

Air travel, regional transport, hotels, and restaurants were in high demand: with over 3,000 visitors, the Les Assises event set the Principality of Monaco abuzz. This key event in the digital security field brings together all the major players in the sector over four days. In October 2020, DG Consultants, the event organizer, managed to go ahead with the 20th edition despite the pandemic. Sophie Guérin explains what it was like organizing the event and shares the plans for 2021.

 

In 2020, many B2B events were postponed at best, canceled at worst. But DG Consultants managed to go ahead with Les Assises de la Sécurité last October. Did you ever doubt that you could do it? How did you manage to stay on track?

Sophie Guérin: Mid-year, we thought that the global situation would become clearer. However, we found ourselves in a gray area at the start of September. Every week, announcements by the French government narrowed our options. In September and October, we made some progress, but it wasn’t easy. The odds were stacked against us. In addition to the announcements, a false rumor that Les Assises had been canceled circulated among the clients and guests, forcing us to release statements and articles to refute these claims. Fortunately, our event has a strong and incredibly loyal community. The participants in the 2020 edition were enthusiastic, respectful of preventative measures, involved, and motivated. With hindsight, I can see that we achieved a real tour de force.

 

“ Many events were moved or canceled in 2020, but Les Assises was the only one never to postpone its date. This sent out a strong message to the participants.” Alice Vo Van Thien, Operational Project Manager, Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer

All of Monaco’s establishments were, of course, used for accommodation and catering during the event. How did you organize the event with your Monaco partners?

We quickly understood that organizing dinners would be the main difficulty. We met with the Monaco Convention Bureau to make sure all stakeholders were on the same page and to find a solution. Of course, we had to coordinate the establishments according to our constraints and needs. We had to go with sit-down dinners and received good client feedback on them: guests felt this was a more VIP, high-quality approach. However, sit-down dinners and flow management limit networking opportunities. For 2021, if the pandemic persists, we will be able to improve the concept and work on client and guest networking.

 

 

An edition like no other

In the past, the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort and the Méridien Beach Plaza have hosted evening cocktail parties, one on Wednesday and the other on Thursday. In 2020, the two establishments each welcomed guests on both evenings for sit-down dinners. It was a challenge to manage the flow of people and synchronize activities while adhering to the Covid measures.


How was the event organized with the Grimaldi Forum, which hosted exhibitors and guests during the day?

The sanitary measures at the Grimaldi Forum were very stringent. Our group, Comexposium, had very quickly produced a Covid guide. I drew on the group’s guidelines, and we put together a dossier with the Grimaldi Forum outlining all our measures. We then shared it with the guests and participants.

 

Meetings at the Grimaldi Forum are always one-to-one at your event. Given Covid, this format was particularly appropriate. Did you have to make any other special arrangements for the daytime events?

Yes, one-to-one is suitable for this type of event, and you can still host a reasonable number of people. We implemented all the conventional measures, including masks, hydroalcoholic hand sanitizer, plexiglass, and flow management. We had a Covid manager and a protocol ready to roll out in the event of a confirmed case of Covid-19. Everything was written down and clearly defined.

We committed to a maximum of 1,000 people per hall and set up time slots for lunches in tables of six, which was something we hadn’t done before. It went really well.

 

The impact of a conference on a destination

“Les Assises is part of one of the largest conferences on the Côte d’Azur. It is underpinned by an entire industry in the widest sense of the word, from airlines and taxi drivers to hotels. However, in 2020, the majority of the international trade shows in Nice, Cannes, and Monaco were canceled, apart from Les Assises.” Alexandre Treffel, France Sales Manager, Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer

 

In terms of the visitors’ ability to do business, was the event on par with previous years?

Absolutely, admittedly the edition was smaller, but it was an incredibly high-quality event. Some participants told us that they felt this was the best Les Assises in a while. The feedback has been extremely positive and very encouraging.

 

Following this feedback, do you envisage making changes in the coming years once the pandemic has eased?

We will need to find the right balance between qualitative success and achieving our quantified objectives. But recovery will be gradual, giving us time to adjust the formula. This is a long-term process.

 

What was the highlight of the 20th edition?

The opening conference, with the Prince’s visit. We were touched by the support we were given by the Principality. It was an emotional first day, and we then realized we had pulled it off. The exhibitors were thrilled to be able to get together. Some professionals hadn’t seen each other for over six months!

 

Are you already planning the 2021 edition?

Although the first half of the year is uncertain, we are hoping that the situation will be under control in the second half, so we are sticking with the scheduled date in October. We know that the 2021 edition will look more like last year than 2019. We are starting to think about various things, including the format of the evenings and the venues.

 

Do you have any tips for people looking to organize a B2B event in Monaco in 2021?

Draw on local professionals as far as possible. I always advise my employees to listen to the advice of the teams on site. I have great respect for the people working in Monaco.
Also, tap into Monaco Convention Bureau: they are there to support you and coordinate all relations. I worked a lot with Christine Barrabino [Head of the Monaco Convention Bureau], who was always by my side. We also call each other every month to discuss developments and how we can adapt. The teams at the Grimaldi Forum and the Société des Bains de Mer were also great and incredibly helpful.
Finally, know how to express your needs and imperatives. The aim is to hold a successful event while understanding everyone’s constraints.