PARTNERING IN CRISIS – CHEST Congress 2020 and Bologna Convention Bureau

Client: American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST)

Event: CHEST Virtual Congress 2020 in partnership with the Italian delegation

Partner: Bologna Congressi

Bologna Convention Bureau helped Kenes Group to conduct the needed site inspections, support with the destination promotion, and the social program, while forging and strengthening local partnerships. With a worsening local situation in Italy in February, followed by the announcement of a global pandemic and worldwide lockdowns, the event had to be called off. This was the time when all partners came together in order to find the best solution for CHEST.


The efforts invested in building strategic relationships pay-off the most during a crisis. The situation with the CHEST Congress showed how consistency in working together throughout the years in fact creates one team, striving to achieve a common goal.

The process began with open communication and complete trust. All partners showed a lot of flexibility when it came down to the decision of postponing the event, joining research data in order to find not only the best possible dates for the event but also to find new opportunities for everyone involved. With full transparency and putting the event goals in the centre of all efforts, the work proved smooth and the collaboration – truly successful.


While the situation around the CHEST Congress scheduled for June 2020 mobilised all partners, it was in fact their joined long-term vision and fruitful collaboration that proved the solution. Each partner aims at bringing value to the client and their event and everyone play a different role in this puzzle. But long-term collaborations are not built to benefit just one event in a single year, but rather to create a multitude of successful future events in the years to come.

With the many unknowns, the ongoing lockdowns and overall stress of not knowing what to expect, flexibility, understanding, and being simply human were vital for the successful outcome of this situation.


A very successful CHEST virtual congress, in partnership with the Italian delegation, was put together in June 2020, highlighting the connection with Italy to 3,150 participants. While we cannot say with certainty when the event will take its physical shape, Bologna Congressi has applied special flexible clauses to the contracts, helping Kenes Group manage the risk.

Future planning

Both the city of Bologna and Bologna Congressi used the long months of lockdown to develop effective safety measures, according to some of the Kenes Group recommendation, for the return of in-person events with the following activities:

  • Creating a catalogue: “Bologna, Safe City for Events” gathering the most practical information for event planners on how to host safe events in the Metropolitan City of Bologna
  • A venue redesign and new tailor-made solutions on offer for optimal in-person meetings, such as:
    • Rooms equipped with new audio/video technology, including the latest generation streaming service;
    • New and larger entrance foyer;
    • New exhibition hall of over 3,000 sq.m. directly connected to the Palazzo dei Congressi and the Ex-Gam;
    • Easily accessible information protocol on all prevention measures.
  • New services offered by other suppliers in the city include:
    • highly trained personnel on the operation of the new event formats – in-person and online;
    • reinventing the delivery of catering services following the latest food protocols;
    • transportation services with high hygiene protocols;
    • solutions for physical distancing – signs, materials, and more;
    • and more.