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Going the Extra Mile: Shocking COVID Situation Leads to Industry Coming Together

4 Oct 2022

Tarsus Team help Messe Frankfurt Middle East with cross-company support in dramatic deadline dash

Dubai, UAE: At Messe Frankfurt Middle East’s Staff and Supplier Awards recently, there was a clear winner for the “Going the Extra Mile” category for 2022. In January this year, when the Messe Frankfurt Middle East team was impacted by COVID 19 at a critical delivery point and had to quarantine, eleventh hour assistance came from another event organiser – Tarsus.

Tarsus Win at Messe Frankfurt Middle East’s Staff and Supplier Awards

It was every organiser’s nightmare scenario. With only hours until Messe Frankfurt Middle East was due to receive venue handover for Intersec Dubai, one of Messe Frankfurt Middle East’s flagship shows and first large scale event since lockdown, the unthinkable happened. Symptom free Group Operations Director Jamie Macdonald received a positive result and had to quarantine, preventing him from physically attending the build-up and event. The team was primed to start buildup for 522 exhibitors to welcome 18000 visitors to Dubai World Trade Centre. To reduce COVID risk, the entire operations team had prepared to go onsite by isolating for three weeks and, as an added precaution, all undertook PCR tests before attending the site.  While all were expecting the necessary reassurance of negative results, this was not what transpired.

This nightmare situation was exacerbated due to the relative inexperience of the remaining team, including many working on the multifaceted event for the first time. They were now faced with prospect of no on-site operational leadership for the crucial build up period to oversee a highly complex move-in incorporating eight halls, six conferences and an awards ceremony. Without a moment to spare, at around 9:00pm, Messe Frankfurt Middle East’s CEO Simon Mellor reached out to Tarsus Managing Director Tim Hawes, explaining his predicament.

“It was a very dramatic situation. I knew that it was imperative that we had a capable team on the ground for such a critical period, and we were right down to the wire with very few options,” Mellor said. He continued, “At the same time, it occurred to me that the Tarsus team had the knowledge and skills to manage a buildup of this magnitude. In my 30 years of experience, I’ve never done anything like this before. It was a highly unusual request to Tarsus, but luckily Tim was very empathetic. I dread to imagine what could have happened if he had not been.”

“Anyone working in events is familiar with the unique challenges we have faced since the COVID 19 pandemic,” said Hawes. “When Simon explained the situation and requested that Tarsus team members came to his aid, I was happy we were able to help another event organizer in such a position.” 

Simon Mellor

Demonstrating his understanding of not only the importance of the situation, but also the urgency of the request, Hawes suggested that two of his team members would be able to assist. Caryn McConnachie and Sarah Dunne rushed to the venue and began overseeing the influx of more than 400 contractors. As a result of their quick actions, in tandem with remote contact with Macdonald, Intersec Dubai 2022 was ready for its opening on the morning of 16th of January, as planned.

In appreciation of their support, Tarsus were announced the winners of the “Going the Extra Mile Award”  Award 2022, at the Messe Frankfurt Middle East Staff and Supplier Awards which took place on the 22nd of September. McConnachie and Dunne were invited to attend the ceremony and presented with trophies and prizes, reinforcing the appreciation from the Messe Frankfurt Middle East’s team.

“It’s been called the ‘new normal’ – events have returned and visitor numbers are on the increase – but the spectre of COVID 19 still can blindside us unexpectedly,” added Mellor. He continued, “Messe Frankfurt Middle East is unbelievably grateful to Tim Hawes, Caryn McConnachie and Sarah Dunne for their help in such a situation. It truly shows that event organisers all understand the challenges of the industry and, in particular, that a great experience for exhibitors and visitors is our common goal.”

An incredible example of event professionals supporting event professionals and a common dedication to the importance of attendee experience in these unprecedented times.