The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Congress and Exhibition was held at SECC Glasgow from 18-22 June 2016.

The annual RCN Congress brings together thousands of nurses and healthcare professionals to debate, inform and shape healthcare policies.

Joe Manby Limited has worked on the RCN Congress event for four years and is in planning discussions with the RCN organising team for the 2017 and 2018 events in Liverpool and Belfast respectively. We have also been appointed to provide event services for its International Centenary Conference being held at the QEII Conference Centre, London in November this year.

This was the first time that the Congress had been held in Scotland for 25 years.


The RCN Congress attracts around 5,000 healthcare professionals, and has a packed programme of fringe events, seminars, the open forum business agenda and the AGM as well as the l
argest nursing exhibition in the UK. Therefore it is essential that the event space is used effectively to incorporate the different areas and is easy for attendees to navigate.

The Congress and Exhibition is split over a number of halls, with the major activities split between the two main halls, with the exhibition and ancillary services in one and the main conference hall in another. Both halls had to work together and separately as the exhibition operated at different times to the ancillary area / main conference hall.

The brief was to design a layout which allowed the foyer area, which was located in the same hall as the exhibition, to open and close at different times. This area included a registration desk, information hub, and a number of delegate areas such as bag collection, internet cafe and RCN shop.

As the RCN is celebrating its 100
th year, Joe Manby Limited was also asked to create a space in the foyer area for a centenary themed photographic display – Care on Camera.

The different areas needed to be separate and at times sectioned off whilst still maintaining a flow of delegates.

The overall brief was to maximise the space, be innovative with the different elements and give the event a simple but effective layout.

We provided full event services, including stand design and installation, electrics, furniture hire, carpeting and graphics.


In order to create a flexible space we designed a feature wall to separate the exhibition from the ancillary area, to be known as the RCN Foyer. We did this by creating a number of entrance feature archways, between the exhibition hall and the foyer area. This included clear, branded signage with arrows and directional signage on either side of the illuminated columns. The wall also included partitions and curtains so that this area could be closed off when not in use, enabling the foyer to function independently with the conference hall.

To maximise the space, we used one side of the wall as the internet café, displaying welcoming signage with instructions around nine computers.

The shop and bag collection section included various display units for merchandise, a literature rack for the RCN publications and branded signage to indicate the different areas of the event. Further entrance feature archways were designed to give clear direction into the main conference hall.

The information hub was designed to be at the centre of the foyer area located midway between the main conference hall and the exhibition hall, branded in a similar style to the registration desks, bright yellow to draw attention. The main signage was the letter ‘I’ which could be seen from across the hall. We also utilised the sign to direct delegates to the main hall and exhibition and catering areas.

As the exhibition finished a day ahead of the conference itself, we effectively removed all reference to the exhibition, including removing the entrance archways in the feature wall.  This meant that when delegates arrived for congress on Wednesday morning the exhibition and the entrances to it had gone.

The Congress attracted 4,130 attendees over the five days and showcased over 110 exhibitors.


Steven Jenkinson, assistant conference & events Manager, at RCN Events | Royal College of Nursing said: “This year’s RCN Congress was another great success, and that is in part down to the hard work of the Joe Manby Limited team. The team came up with innovative solutions for the Centenary area and exhibition entrance and created a consistent, clean look and feel for the event.

“On behalf of all of us at the Royal College of Nursing, I’d like to thank Joe Manby Limited for their expert planning and faultless onsite delivery in the run up to and during RCN Congress in Glasgow.”