A critical care conference for the 21st century

State of the Art (SOA) 2017 was the second conference organised for the Intensive Care Society since the initial three-year contract was awarded in 2016, and for the first time the conference was held outside London.

Hampton Medical (Part of Rapiergroup) wanted to build on the success of 2016 by taking innovation and the delegate experience to the next level whilst still preserving the event’s core principles of delivering cutting-edge interventions, emerging technologies and essential clinical updates.

SOA 2017 saw over 1,450 delegates arrive at the ACC Liverpool; a new attendance record and a marked increase on 2016.  Despite the increase in numbers the delegate experience remained seamless and interactive, utilising e-badging on arrival, 4k e-posters, next generation HD video e-posters as well as a bespoke mobile app allowing delegates to find and network with their peers.

A dedicated accommodation e-platform ensured that delegates could stay both local to the ACC as well as providing live booking figures for each hotel and enabling delegates to identify hotels popular with fellow SOA attendees.

With a parallel social programme, the first SOA party night gave attendees the opportunity to let their hair down with a live Beatles tribute band and DJ set, as well as an SOA-branded photo booth.

To encourage maximum attendance from time-pressured healthcare professionals with childcare responsibilities, SOA 2017 delivered support in the form of a dedicated play and baby support room. Aware that this might mean missing key conference sessions, live audio feeds together with presentation slides were made available in the room.

Questions via social media for all five conference streams were beamed directly to live Twitter walls located throughout the delegate areas, and a social media interview room gave 2017 an online footprint unlike ever before.  Live interviews with delegates, exhibitors and speakers meant the conference could deliver post-event content, again building on its unique offering and creating legacy.

Within the main exhibition, inflatable domes allowed networking and private meeting areas to be booked by industry, and these were heavily utilised during the conference meaning SOA marked its place in the calendar for sponsors and delegates to privately network and conduct business.

Sponsored symposia, demonstration sessions and Anaesthesia Trauma and Critical Care (ATACC) interactive area gave delegates hands-on experience with the latest technology and best practice simulations.

Enhanced branding of the event created a warm and welcoming environment.  From branded umbrellas and drink tokens to signage, floor coverings and outdoor flags, it all gave the conference a festival environment throughout the ACC and nearby Albert Dock.

To round off a hugely successful programme, the Patron of the Intensive Care Society, HRH The Princess Royal attended on the final day to address delegates during the closing session as well as meeting industry and award winners.

2018 will see the conference return to the QEII Centre in Central London, and will look to build on the success of 2017 with a new website, digital content and enhanced delegate facilities.

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The conference was a phenomenal success in all respects from the delegate numbers and experience to the social media elements.
President, Intensive Care Society
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