Advancing paediatric surgery through education and research

How economic headwinds, global events and changing demographics and attitudes impact our meetings 

The times they are a changing

When you attend BAPS and see old friends who you trained with and there are the same sessions with familiar faces chairing, you’d be forgiven for thinking BAPS Congress is essentially the same meeting preserved in an aspic bubble, served annually.

However, BAPS has not escaped the repercussions of the pandemic and the cosh of the cost of living. And just like the rest of the economy and the world, these forces are still reverberating around BAPS too. Additionally, we’ve seen shifts in the demographic make-up of our small specialty. Let’s walk through some of these impacts to BAPS and how they affect you.

Oh no not sandwiches! 

What do you remember most about our meetings? According to behavioural science, we’re prone to remember the bad bits rather than the good. Looking at evaluations from our meetings, catering frequently comes up especially when sandwiches are served! Our 68th Congress is a good example of this – we scored a woeful two and a half out of 5 for catering in Birmingham. So why serve sandwiches when we get such poor feedback?

The bottom line is that the hospitality industry is experiencing severe staff shortages post-pandemic. Many caterers have had no choice but to pivot towards self-service lunches as they can’t get the staff. Pre-packaged sandwiches require the fewest staff on site: the people needed to serve food and clear up is kept to a minimum. Opting for lunches which require staff to cook, serve and clear-up hot food would have added an extra 150 Euros to your registration for Bruges.

And no-one can have missed the soaring cost of food and energy. In 2022 food inflation was approaching 20% in Europe and the UK with no sign of abating in 2023. Just like your local restaurant, our caterers have to pass on these costs and we have to account for them in our registration rates.

Where’s the wine?

Another regular gripe is why we don’t have wine on the tables at our dinners. The demographic composition of both our membership and delegates now includes groups who don’t drink alcohol or want to limit their intake.

By not packaging wine with our dinner ticket, we can offer a lower price for our dinners and be more inclusive. Is it fair to expect non-drinkers to subsidise drinkers? Going forward our tickets will include a welcome drink after which you’re in charge of what you spend and what you drink.

From the perspective of corporate responsibility, we’ve been informed by professional conference organisers, Abstract Events that facilitating excessive drinking at events is no longer acceptable in the conference industry. You want delegates to get back safely to their hotels after dinner. If delegates are driving home the next day you want them to reach home in one piece.  Delegates are free to go on to drink after our events if they choose but we are responsible for our events. This may seem nannying but in the light of the CBI revelations, corporate responsibility is very much on the agenda.

Content, networking and location are what you rate at our meetings

Whilst all too familiar economic realities sound joyless, your feedback indicates that the content, networking, locations and our social events score highly. Pictures from our events bear this out too – you look like you’re having the best time. So when you’re biting into a sandwich at a BAPS meeting please remember that sandwiches help make our meetings viable so you can grow, learn and catch-up with your peers.

We think it’s helpful to explain the context we operate in and that providing fair and economically viable meetings is what we strive for at all times, but also in these extremely challenging times. Do get in touch if you have comments or suggestions as we’re always looking for ways to deliver better meetings more cost effectively.

Shan Teo

Digital Manager

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