The World Customs Organization (WCO) is the only international entity that deals with Customs procedures governing trade between countries. The organization includes 176 administrations throughout the globe and is collectively responsible for managing and processing more than 98% of world trade. As one can imagine, strong IT solutions are needed to help administrations manage a broad range of Customs activities including collection of revenue, environmental protection, combating drug trafficking and money laundering, and ensuring food safety and revenue security. For the last 12 years, the Organization has held an annual WCO IT Conference and Exhibition to enable sharing of best IT practices and to encourage networking among member delegates and industry professionals. And in 2013, Dubai Customs had the honor of hosting the event. Dubai, being Dubai, is always out to wow and impress its guests and visitors. And impressing 500+ international IT delegates wouldn’t be easy.
Additionally, the three-day event was under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Pressure to hold a successful conference was extremely high. Anyone who’s ever attended a memorable industry event can tell you that it can be both an exhilarating and exhausting experience. It’s a great way to stay ahead of industry trends, collect information, network with colleagues, and make new deals. With any luck, it takes place somewhere as amazing as Dubai, and you can squeeze in a bit of fun while you’re at it. One of the keys to holding a successful conference is enabling attendees to navigate the event so that they’re meeting the right people at the right place and right time. Event planners do their best to provide welcome kits that include agendas, maps, schedules and other goodies. But these are often ignored or discarded as they are cumbersome to carry and information can be outdated even before it goes to press. Dubai Customs wanted to provide their IT delegates a real-time guide that would help them make the most of their experience and keep them notified of changes in schedules, venues, speaker engagements and other events. They also wanted to enable delegates to connect, interact, and network with one another. From the moment their prestigious guests landed in Dubai, Dubai Customs did their best to give them the full Dubai treatment. WCO delegates were greeted at the airport by Dubai Customs officials and transported by limousine to the iconic Atlantis hotel on Dubai’s famous Palm Jumeirah. Using GPS technology and Twitter, country delegates received welcome messages appearing on live electronic billboards in real time as they made their way to the hotel. For example, “DubaiCustoms welcomes the Russian delegation to the #WCOITDubai 2013 conference,” or “DubaiCustoms welcomes the Swiss delegation to the #WCOITDubai 2013 conference.”
Upon check-in at the conference, each delegate was gifted a personalized Asus Memo Pad tablet which could be used as a personal assistant and guide during the 3-day event. The tablet was equipped with a pre-installed Dubai Customs 2013 WCO IT app housing all of the information necessary for delegates to make the most of their experience. Since each tablet was connected to the Atlantis conference center’s WIFI signal, they were able to deliver notifications and updates in real time and delegates were able to coordinate personally amongst themselves. On the home screen an image of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum greeted and welcomed each delegate by name. Dubai Customs also created a 2013 WCO IT Home Page with a full touch screen menu indicating agenda, delegates, exhibitors, notes, FAQs, and feedback. The agenda page housed a full list of timings for speakers, events, and exhibitions with pull down menus covering each of the 3 days while the delegates page contained a list of delegate names and profiles where users could make notes, share information, schedule meetings or send messages to each other. On the FAQ page a complete answer guide to frequently asked questions including who to contact for help, details around the gala dinner were featured. But that’s not all, at the end of the conference, delegates were able to keep the tablets, enabling them to continue networking among themselves and conference exhibitors. The campaign was a success with 500 delegates attending: at least 30 business deals and 20 meeting requests initiated between delegates and exhibitors using the app, 102 messages were exchanged among guest delegates, 186 feedback questions were successfully fulfilled using the app. And Dubai Customs is certain that the tablet and app were used among delegates in countless other ways they were unable to measure.