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FEATUREWhen a crane fell to the floorduring the build-up of theEuropean Wind EnergyConference and Exhibition (EWEC) atWembley Conference and Exhibition Centrein 2004, organisers thought it was a spot ofbad luck. However, the incident wasn't to bethe last affecting the show. EWEC, organised by the European WindEnergy Association (EWEA), has beenrunning for 20 years. It began as a smallconference, mainly run by a scientificcommunity. Today it has grown into anevent that annually gathers over 7,000people at various locations across the world.It is attended by anyone who has an interestin wind energy development such asscientists, researchers, manufacturers,utilities, policy makers, financiers, insurersetc. In 2009, when the event was held atMarseille's Convention and Exhibition Centrein France, a public transport strike on its lastday meant delegates were unable to leavethe city. However, it was 2010 thatpresented the biggest challenge to theevent's organisers. One week before the 2010 edition atEXPO XXI Warsaw InternationalExpocentre, Poland's president LechKaczynski and scores of other senior Polishfigures were killed in a plane crash inRussia. National mourning was announcedand until a couple of days before theIs this the most unlucky conference in the history of the industry? Vikki Carleychats to EWEA's showdirector Malgosia Bartosik about plane crashes, ash clouds and falling cranes.scheduled start of the show, it was unknownwhether it would be allowed to take place asscheduled. If that wasn't bad enough, a fewdays later the Eyjafjallajokul volcano inIceland erupted, causing a sheet of ash tospread over Europe affecting the wholeflight network."When you organise an event, you alwayshave to be prepared for somethingunforeseen that might happen. Myexperience shows that timely reaction andclear communication are key to solvingproblems," says show director, MalgosiaBartosik. "Most of the funerals of the Polishpresidential figures took place during theweekend and the conference started on theTuesday, and organisers thought they werequite unlucky with holding our conferencethat very week, but nothing could prepareus for what happened with the ash cloud,"she says.Bartosik recalls how, following theeruption, the airports started to close fivedays before the event. Most of theorganising team had got to Warsaw by carto be available at build-up. "We still thoughtthe ash cloud problem would be gone overthe weekend and people would be able toget 80 per cent of the education sessions went ahead as plannedto Warsaw ready for the start of theOnly 20 exhibitors were unable to attendSeptember 2010 Conference+Meetings World www.c-mw.net 31????Black cat ofconferences"When you organisean event, you alwayshave to be preparedfor somethingunforseen that mighthappen."