In advance of three major medical conferences coming to Glasgow, the city is claiming a ‘world’s first’ as it trains up hospitality staff to better understand the requirements of delegates living with the health conditions that are the subject of the events.

The city has launched a bespoke programme of awareness sessions for the tourism and hospitality industry before three major international medical conferences – on hemophilia, Down’s Syndrome and ALS/MND – take place throughout 2018, bringing a combined 7,000 delegates to the city.

Approximately 700 delegates – roughly 10% of those expected to attend the World Federation of Hemophilia in May, the World Down Syndrome Congress in July and the International Symposium on ALS/MND in December – are living with the conditions which are the focus of the events.

As a result taxi drivers, staff at transport hubs, the Scottish Event Campus, hotels, restaurants and visitor attractions have all been offered free educational sessions as part of the awareness programme; almost 350 attendances have been recorded at the People Make Glasgow Welcome sessions which were delivered by experts from each organisation and local people living with the conditions.

Aileen Crawford, Head of Conventions at Glasgow Conventions Bureau, said: “Glasgow has been cited as one of the world’s friendliest cities and the People Make Glasgow Welcome initiative epitomises how Team Glasgow supports and works with our conference organisers to gain a fuller understanding of our delegates’ needs. The educational sessions, led by our clients, has prepared the city to give a warm, educated and appropriate welcome.

“We are delighted to be the first city in the world to offer such training and city wide preparation for these prestigious meetings and we will be sharing the videos of the sessions with our clients, so that they may take the learnings with them to their next conference destination.”

Jo Hughes, Family Support Manager at Down’s Syndrome Scotland, who ran the awareness sessions on behalf of the World Down Syndrome Congress, said: “Delivering the awareness sessions means that we can ensure that all those who attended have current and accurate knowledge about Down’s syndrome today and how to positively include and support people with the disability, whichever their area of business; this ensures they can welcome and support people who have Down’s syndrome from all over the world to have a wholly positive experience during their visit to Glasgow.

“Two of our Lead Commissioners, Andrew Macintyre and Stuart Campbell also co-delivered the sessions with myself  and proved to the audience that having Down’s syndrome doesn’t stop you from doing things, they gave a clear message that having a disability doesn’t define who you are and to remember that anyone who has a disability is a person first.”

The Scottish Event Campus will host all three medical conferences this year, with members of its staff taking part in the awareness sessions as part of its preparations for the event.

Glasgow’s taxi fleet is readying itself to welcome delegates for three major medical conferences this year

Kathleen Warden, Director of Conference Sales at the SEC, said: “Whilst these training sessions are a practical way of preparing to host these conferences, they also highlight the unparalleled cross-city connections that we possess in Glasgow which is so critical to conference organisers.  When we secured these conferences several years ago, we knew that they would provide an important and unique opportunity to leave a legacy in the venue and the city – this training is the perfect example of how conferences have a much greater impact than economic benefit.

“We aim to provide all our clients with the best possible experience here in Glasgow, and this is one of the many ways in which we aim to do so.”

Craig Martin, Head of Human Resources at Glasgow Airport and Chair of Glasgow Welcomes, added: “The awareness sessions provided those working in tourism and hospitality businesses across the city with a fantastic opportunity to gain insight from medical experts and those living with the conditions themselves. As a result, customer facing staff will be more confident and knowledgeable when interacting with and meeting the specific requirements of customers and visitors living with these conditions.  These preparations will not only ensure we are prepared for these conferences but will leave a lasting legacy on the city as a whole, benefitting both Glaswegians and future visitors to the city.”

Alain Baumann, CEO of the World Federation of Hemophilia, whose congress will take place in Glasgow from 20 – 24 May, said: “The remarkable efforts made by so many in Glasgow to ensure that our community can join us at the WFH World Congress is very much appreciated.  The welcoming and helpful spirit of all people we worked with in Glasgow in preparing for our congress has been very much appreciated by all employees and volunteers of the WFH.”

Glasgow Convention Bureau has partnered with Glasgow Welcomes and VisitScotland to deliver the scheme.