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SUSAN FREI, CTC

The most crucial issue right now is commodization

ALL THIS TALK MEDICAL DEVELOPMENT OXYTOCIN MEETINGS BROKER SHARMA ECOSOPHY KELLERMAN

ISSN 1651-9663

No. 07 May 2011 €15 / 165 SEK 0 7 >

9 771651 966090


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No. 07

2011 Slow Down to Do More

15 EDITORIAL

Challenge the Thought Patterns

Atti Soenarso claims a little knowledge can be dangerous 16

LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE EDITOR IN CHIEF

Atti Soenarso atti.soenarso@meetingsinternational.com PUBLISHER

Roger Kellerman roger.kellerman@meetingsinternational.com WRITERS

Tomas Dalström, Hans Gordon, Roger Kellerman, Robin Sharma, Atti Soenarso. PHOTOGRAPHER

Sara Appelgren (incl. cover) TRANSLATION

Dennis Brice dennis@writingservices.se

COVER STORY

Susan Frei

The most crucial issue in the industry right now is its commodization 30 MEETING PSYCHOLOGY

All This Talk

Hans Gordon on the necessity of communication and the urge to communicate 36 MEDICAL MEETINGS

Gunnar Öhlén

Congresses are not organised for the benefit of hotels 42 A BRAIN CHECK

What Is Oxytocin?

Robin Teigland knows how it affects us

EDITOR

Pravasan Pillay ART DIRECTOR

Kellerman Design EDITORIAL RAYS OF SUNSHINE

London, Bimo + cello, Bill Bowling, Janesh Vaidya. EDITORIAL OFFICE

Meetings International Publishing P.O. Box 224, SE-271 25 Ystad, Sweden Editorial Office +46 8 612 42 20 Commercial Office +46 8 612 42 96 Fax +46 8 612 42 80 info@meetingsinternational.se   ·   www.meetingsinternational.se BUY MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL AT

info@meetingsinternational.se Single copies SEK 165 or €15. Postage not included. PRINTED BY

Trydells Tryckeri AB Environmentally certified according to ISO 14001

52 MEETINGS BROKER

Thomas Hallin

Strategy that leads to more meetings 61 RADAR

Are You Just Like Everybody Else? Cathy A Enz calls it as she sees it

62 SUSTAINABILITY

Green and Sustainable Events Can 2011 be a ‘Corner Turner’?

65 ROBIN SHARMA

22 Ways to Become Spectacularly Inspirational An aspirational checklist

66 ECOSOPHY

Jan Öqvist

I see the whole meeting as one big narrative … each speaker as through a hologram

PAPER

Munken Lynx 240 gr / 100 gr by Arctic Paper FSC labeled paper Cert No SGS-COC-1693 FONTS

82 ROGER KELLERMAN

Thinking Is Good but Doing Is Better

Ideas alone mean nothing – implementation is everything

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Managing a large meeting in Stockholm

photo: JEppE WIKStRÖM

– the inside story

Stockholm is fast becoming the place in Europe for large meetings and congresses. Which may not come as a surprise to those in the know, since few cities are trying as hard to strengthen their offering as the Capital of Scandinavia. But talk is, as they say, cheap. Let’s instead hear what the manager of a really large congress has to say about her experiences of her last event in Stockholm.


What was your prime reason for choosing Stockholm?

We simply wanted to hold a meeting in Stockholm and knew the venue was perfect. how did the cooperation with Stockholmsmässan (the venue for the meeting) work?

The co-operation with Stockholmsmässan worked excellently. Our counterparts/contact persons were very professional, flexible and always friendly. Communication was never an issue due to their excellent command of

photo: StocKholMSMäSSan

Bärbel Magdalena Niedenhof is the Conference Manager at EASD – the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. Every year the association arranges a meeting where new findings on the subject of diabetes are presented, lectures are given and four major prizes are awarded. By the way, the word “meeting” doesn’t quite convey the scale of the event. The 46th Annual Meeting, which was held in Stockholm from September 20 - 24, 2010, attracted no fewer than 17,300 delegates! It goes without saying that it takes some formidable planning and cooperation between many parties to make something like this work smoothly. But first things first:

Stockholmsmässan is the leading venue in the Baltic Sea Region, organising some 60 industry-leading exhibitions as well as around 100 national and international congresses, conferences and events anually. Every year the venue welcomes 10,000 exhibitors, 1.5 million visitors and more than 8,000 journalists from all over the world. For more information, please visit: www.stockholmsmassan.se

“ Stockholmsmässan is definitely one of the top venues in Europe. ” Bärbel Magdalena Niedenhof, Conference Manager, the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

how do think Stockholmsmässan measures up to other European venues?

Stockholmsmässan is definitely one of the top venues in Europe. What kind of reception did you receive from the people you met during the preparations and during the event?

People in Stockholm have excellent language skills, are always friendly, very kind and helpful. What is your overall impression of Stockholm as city?

English and whenever a problem had to be solved, they came up with good solutions.

Overall brilliant. Stockholm is modern and international as well as being a historic city with a rich cultural life and a wide selection of museums and other


photo: claRIon hotEl StocKholM

There are already more than 27,000 hotel rooms in Stockholm to choose from, with many more to come. By September 2013 the figure will have risen to 31,000!

attractions. Not to mention surrounded by a magnificent maritime landscape. There are plenty of restaurants with both Swedish/Scandinavian and international cuisine. The city is also ideal for good quality shopping with a clean and safe ambience. transports within the city – good or bad?

Good. Daily transport of 17,300 delegates went smoothly without major queues and crowds. how important is sustainability as a deciding factor when you choose location?

It is of course an important deciding factor since there are only a few venues in Europe with ideal pre-conditions to

“ I would recommend Stockholm to other associations for the ease in organising and working with Stockholmsmässan and the Convention Bureau.”

host major medical conferences with more than 17,000 participants. We are always trying to improve. any suggestions?

For smaller and medium congresses the accommodation situation is satisfactory but for major medical congresses like EASD the hotel capacity in the city should be increased. With more than 17,000 delegates - staying for a whole week - the availability of hotel rooms in the city can be a bit problematic some weeks before the congress. Finally: would you recommend Stockholm to other congress organisers?

Yes, definitely.

Dr Viktor Jörgens, Executive Director, of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

this concludes our interview with Bärbel niedenhof, conference Manager at EaSD. thank you for reading and hope to see you soon in Stockholm.

For more information, send us an e-mail or give us a call! Stockholm Visitors Board Stockholm Convention Bureau Phone: +46 8 508 28 500 conventionbureau@stockholm.se stockholmconventionbureau.com


The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre in Gothenburg – venue of opportunities

The most effective meeting place in Scandinavia The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre is the most effective venue in Scandinavia for developing business, relations, know-how, visions and ideas. We host some 30 exhibitions and hundreds of conference and congress events every year. When people meet in perfect surroundings, something new is born. The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre is about creating the best possible opportunities for just such meetings. With eight modern exhibition halls and 50 flexible, well-equipped conference rooms including a magnificent congress hall, we provide stimulating environment for every imaginable gathering – from small group meetings to a large world congress. Together with trendsetting Hotel Gothia Towers, we

offer world-class accommodation that flirts madly with all friends of great design. Scandinavia’s largest and Gothenburg’s tallest hotel has 704 stylish rooms and suites. Plus: seven very tasteful restaurants and three popular bars. The location is extremely central. The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre is situated in the heart of the city’s intensive event area. Close to Gothenburg’s highly acclaimed amusement, cultural, entertainment and sporting facilities such as Liseberg Amusement Park, Scandinavium Indoor Arena, Universeum Science Discovery Centre and World Cultural Museum. We welcome you. Together, we will create an unforgettable meeting experience.

SE-412 94 Göteborg, Sweden. Tel: +46 31 708 80 00. Fax: +46 31 16 03 30 Visiting address: Mässans Gata/Korsvägen. www.svenskamassan.se E-mail: infomaster@svenskamassan.se


EDITORIAL | 15

CHALLENGE THE THOUGHT PATTERNS

Why is it that so few politicians

seem to notice the great potential of the meetings industry for developing our society? The answer probably lies in the fact the industry is not well understood, doesn’t have a language of its own or a strong self-image, and because all too many, even in leading positions within meetings industry companies, still don’t know who pays their salaries. The classic quote “All communication takes place on the recipient’s terms” springs to mind here. We can’t accuse politicians of being ill-informed when we don’t give them the information they require. But if the decision-makers in organisations like Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton and those in the Scandinavian market in chains like Choice Hotels and Scandic don’t see the importance of further developing the meetings industry then it will be a long time before we begin making any real progress. The exception to this rule is the Rezidor Hotel Group with brands that include Radisson Blu and Park Inn. Why is knowledge fostered in some organisations but not in others? Is it the difference between being uneducated and uninformed? If you’re at the top of an organisation that largely lives on meetings and don’t see the difference between meetings guests, business travellers and tourists then it would be difficult to further develop the industry. But why then do Rezidor sponsor the

meetings industry? Naturally, it is due to individuals like Ole Sorang, marketing director for Scandinavia, who open all the necessary doors through knowledge-building, business intelligence, commitment and passion. Rezidor has a knowledgerefinement approach that similar organisations lack. It has cutting edge expertise and is successful in international networks. They were first to include fast broadband in the price at all their hotels. Even if they weren’t first, it feels like they were and that they own the concept. Rezidor has now taken a further step in the art of understanding the mechanisms of the meetings industry. They’re building several congress alternatives in the vicinity of, or together with, their existing hotels. They have a self-image based on understanding the meetings industry, which allows their staff to grow in their task. The company challenges traditional thought patterns, thus creating a stronger self-image that allows the organisation to understand itself better and create tangible relationships in the market. So, our next step should be to begin lobbying politicians who have a desire to help develop our society via the meetings industry. Nobody will do it for us. Bear in mind that a little knowledge is more dangerous than knowing nothing at all.

Swedish-Indonesian Atti Soenarso has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. She has worked for Scandinavia’s largest daily newspaper, was TV4’s first travel editor, has written for many Swedish travel magazines and has had several international clients. She has travelled the length and breadth of the world and written about destinations, people and meetings.

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TEXT

Atti Soenarso

F R E I

PHOTOS

Sara Appelgren

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“I’ve seen us go from a government entity to a ‘Crown corporation’ and was part of a team that created and developed a brand that would ultimately become number one in the world.”

Many players in the meetings

industry consider Canada as one of the leading countries in the world with regard to strategic issues, an opinion that was supported in the white paper, The Economic Contribution of Meetings Activity in Canada, commissioned by Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and prepared by Maritz Research Canada and The Conference Board of Canada. Tourism is one of the largest employers in the country and the MICE market alone drives over 2.5 million travellers per year from around the globe and generates over 2.5 billion in annual spending. Susan Frei is the Executive Director of Meetings, Conventions and Incentive Travel at the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) and is well placed to survey the reasons for the country’s success. Though she has only officially been in the position for six months, Susan Frei has worked at the CTC for 12 years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management and began her career in

the hotel industry – both operations and sales. “I discovered my passion for destination marketing when I moved over to Tourism Toronto. After a brief stint as a customs broker in the meetings and conventions realm, I accepted the position in incentive sales development for the Canadian Tourism Commission, where I stayed until I was promoted into my current position.” During her years at the CTC, Susan Frei has seen the organisation rapidly develop, most recently adapting to the economic downturn, which has seen the marketing campaign budgets of many nations greatly reduced. “I’ve seen us go from a government entity to a ‘Crown corporation’ and was part of a team that created and developed a brand that would ultimately become number one in the world. I also worked on becoming much more strategic with our resources, easing away from ‘tried and true’ mature markets and to begin to develop new and emerging areas for Canada.” 2011 No. 07 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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“The most junior MICE sales director on our team has a minimum of ten years on the job. We know our product.”

“We have recently undergone a downsizing that will strategically narrow our marketing focus to those areas where the Canada brand leads and there is alignment with the efforts of our partners. We chose to step away from markets that were mature and where there was already significant partner presence to eliminate redundancy. We have closed several physical offices around the world, opting to have staff work from home thereby reducing our overall overhead expenses. We redeployed the savings directly into the marketing of ‘new’ or emerging markets. In several of our key overseas markets, we decided to embrace the Global Sales Agent model – again to eliminate overhead and maximize expenditures in sales and marketing.” Susan Frei is clear on the strengths of her organisation. “We are very unique in the National Tourism Organization (NTO) world. Most countries merely focus on pure marketing, whereas the CTC, as far as MC&IT or MICE MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 07 2011

is concerned, works much more like a Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) for the entire country. We can research space in any part of the country, provide assistance with customs, immigration, tax rebates and even, in some cases, sponsor air for qualified site inspections. The most junior MICE sales director on our team has a minimum of ten years on the job. We know our product and have had experience working on the world’s most high profile events. The country’s CVBs are our partners. They buy into our strategic platforms and exhibit under the Canadian brand umbrella. In terms of leads, we have a public sector to public sector-first mentality. Any potential business for a destination will be forwarded directly to the CVB for follow-up, unless the client requests otherwise. Networking is critical to the success of a sales person and we definitely view ourselves as sales people in the MICE division of the CTC. We have created multiple


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“We leverage the appeal of each other to engage more buyers than we would have independently.”

strategic partnerships with industry associations such as ASAE, Helms Briscoe, Conference Direct, Financial and Insurance Conference Planners (FICP), Eventia, etcetera. These platforms allow us to leverage the collective resources of our partners and achieve a much greater presence in those organisations than we could individually. Benefits are bundled with the focus being on enhanced personal networking opportunities for the CTC team and its partners. Our brand achieves a much greater profile as well.” While politicians often fail to understand the meetings industry and its potential as a socially progressive force, for Susan Frei, this is not the case in Canada. “There is a realization on all fronts that tourism is a huge driver for the economy. The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) is the advocacy group that advances issues that touch on MC&IT and they are well-connected with Canada’s key players. If there is an issue of acute

importance, they will step in. So it’s fair to say that TIAC keeps all things tourism-related on the radar.” “Another example is the CTC hosting a great program during the 2010 Winter Games that brought several key MICE accounts together with our Minister of Tourism. That program really did a great job of informing our Minister and engaging him in the importance of the meetings industry.” The CTC’s partnerships and collaborations also extend outward beyond Canada’s borders. “The countries we partner with on our Trailblazers International event, Britain, Monaco, Ireland and Switzerland, all have active MICE divisions. They all do great work marketing their offerings.” “We have been involved in a long term partnership with Visit Britain with the aforementioned Trailblazers Incentive marketplace. This entails partnering with other like minded NTOs, combining databases and producing an annual event, where our suppliers can network with North 2011 No. 07 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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“I also feel that green meetings won’t be a trend as much as it is an expectation”

America’s key buyers. We leverage the appeal of each other to engage more buyers than we would have independently.” “Last year we started a partnership with Eventia, the key overseas organisation for international event planners, to showcase our partners who are active in that market and to advance the Canadian brand. We have partnered with SITE and Meeting Professionals International (MPI) on industry research projects, focus groups and market intelligence.” Susan Frei regards the Canadian meetings industry as a harbinger of the economic future of the country. “Considering that the largest associations and corporations book many years in advance, we are able to predict when downturns might happen via booking patterns.” “With regards to the coming five to ten years, I believe there is a pent-up demand for luxury and fabulous incentives again and I see that coming back. There will be much more competition, particularly in MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 07 2011

the incentive market as demand increases for unique cultural experiences and emerging destinations start to promote themselves. I can see it going back to a sellers’ market now, though it is hard to say how long these things will last. I also feel that green meetings won’t be a trend as much as it is an expectation and if your product doesn’t meet minimum requirements, you won’t be getting much business.” “I think planners and suppliers are also going to work much smarter, more strategically and there will be much more focus on the bottom line and ROI. So you can expect them having to demonstrate the value of their work to their superiors and stakeholders regularly.” “The most crucial issue in the industry right now is its commodization. Everything is dictated by procurement departments and the bottom line. This is a completely new mindset for the meetings industry and needs to be balanced with our relationship-based model. The other


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“I see social media as mainstream marketing now and absolutely essential for the meetings industry.”

important issue is explaining the value of incentives to government and the public to avoid future AIG situations.” According to Susan Frei, the greatest challenge for countries/destinations in the future will continue to be air access and capacities and price. “Everything hinges on that. You can have the greatest location in the world but if access is not easy or prohibitively expensive, marketing is going to be very tough. There are also so many new locations emerging at all times. Destinations are beefing up their infrastructure so they are able to accommodate larger groups thereby giving the clients many more options and creating more and more competition in the marketplace.” She sees the influence of the X, Y and Z generations on the meetings industry as rapidly growing, particularly with the increased focus on technology. “The way we sell and speak to each other through social media channels

is a result of their influence. At industry conventions now, as a result of the student and youth membership, we are encouraged to keep cellphones and Blackberries on in order to ‘tweet’ and ‘Facebook’ content as it happens.” “There will also be a focus on strategic meetings management. Procurement departments are never going away and it will be a given that reporting on Return on Investment (ROI) and Return on Objectives (ROO) will be part of the meeting planning process. Corporate social responsibility is part of this generation’s make-up so you will see giving back to the community where a meeting is being held. They are also very environmentally-conscious – green meetings are expected.” “The CTC actively supports the ‘Emerging Leaders’ program at MPI, hosting focus groups, information sessions and networking events that center on education for the younger generations coming up in our business. We have plans to engage in similar programming with our 2011 No. 07 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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“The idea behind it was to give individuals a place where they can ask the questions they were afraid to in a meeting breakout room and remain anonymous.”

international partnerships going forward as well.” Both the leisure and MC&IT divisions of the CTC are active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube and Frei stresses the importance of social media and its significance for the future of the meetings industry. “I see social media as mainstream marketing now and absolutely essential for the meetings industry. I believe we’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg as to the potential available. In a mere year we’ve gone from just pushing out content to employing people to work exclusively in that realm and creating entire strategies around it. Forums for conversations are being created for virtually every topic in the meetings industry world and planners can engage in real time with their industry for recommendations and advice. We have debated whether websites will even be sought as the primary location for destination information in future or

whether individuals will merely go to a Facebook forum instead.” “By not using social media as a strategic instrument you are missing out on being part of the ongoing conversations, threads of the minute. You will not be seen as being on the ‘cutting-edge’ or even that relevant if you have not embraced technology. I also believe one is at a strategic networking disadvantage in terms of sales opportunities. The social media forums allow buyers and sellers to interact on a much more personal level. They allow you to really get to a know a person by watching what they ‘like’, the questions they ask and the complaints they make. One is able to very accurately target their sales approach by just being alert.” Her thoughts on the considerable number of printed media, websites and newsletters online reporting on the meetings industry are equally passionate. “It seems like the same topics are covered in all forums again and again.

There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of imagination in the way issues are addressed and presented to make them more interesting and relevant. I was lamenting this fact with a client a few months back and we came up with a plan to do something a bit different, to talk about meeting industry issues. We created the ‘Breakout Room’ – a take-off on the ‘Situation Room’ on CNN – which is a ‘webisode’ based forum that is much like watching a television show. Its an online talk show that addresses a different issue – usually a bit controversial – each month and buyers and sellers alike can weigh in and ask questions via phone, email or social media channels. The content is later uploaded to our YouTube channel. The idea behind it was to give individuals a place where they can ask the questions they were afraid to in a meeting breakout room and remain anonymous.”

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YOU ARE HERE

MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 07 2011

© iStockphoto.com/mstroz


MEETING PSYCHOLOGY | 31

Hans Gordon, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Authorised Psychologist, specialised in Aviation Psychology. Authorised psychotherapist, since 1987 running Gordon Consulting. Has for decades been engaged by airline companies, among them SAS and Thai Airways International.

All This Talk

ON THE NECESSITY OF COMMUNICATION AND THE URGE TO COMMUNICATE Many large and important issues are decided in groups, in meetings and in consultations of one sort and another. It is done this way in order to utilise the skills of participating employees in the best possible way. Despite this, many people have felt disappointed with their workgroups, and have marked time in meetings without really achieving anything worthwhile.” From the introduction to Kjell Granström’s book: Dynamik i arbetsgrupper (Workgroup Dynamics)

All these meetings. All these

new faces. All these new presentations: Hi, my name is Hans. Oh, we’ve met before. Where was that? Oh, I see. You’ll have to excuse me, my memory’s not what it used to be. A business card? Of course, wait a moment it’s here in my pocket. There you are, that’s me. Oh yes, I’ve worked in my sector a long time, too long perhaps. (Followed by the customary smile). Yes, it’s extremely interesting.

I don’t have any real regrets. Oh yes, I’m affected by the economic crisis, who isn’t? Naturally it’ll pass, in a year or so… We all have to survive, don’t we? Yes, cheers. Psychology (from the Greek psych: soul, spirit and logia: learning, science) has been defined differently in different periods. Take, for example, the science of mind and behaviour and behavioural science. The subject’s definition has broadened in 2011 No. 07 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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“That is to say, things that arise inside of us, with very few exceptions, are always related to that which is going on around us.”

pace with its scientific development. These days we speak of psychology as being the study of individuals’ actions, thoughts and emotions. But this definition is nevertheless coloured by the type of thinking that permeates our current cultural and political life, where the individual is in the spotlight. Social psychology, with its specific focus on group processes and organisational psychology, often risks ending up in a backwater, almost as though the things that are constantly going on between people are not as interesting as the things going on inside of us. This despite the fact that it has been proven otherwise, that is to say, things that arise inside of us, with very few exceptions, are always related to that which is going on around us. Therefore, when we try to expound on that which belongs to our psyches, it is inevitable that we also begin expounding on the social processes that we, in one way or another, participate in. Can we think clearly without formulating our thoughts verbally to others? We might well think so, but it is not certain that it is so. Thinking is one of our most important cognitive functions. Others are our sensory perceptions (that which we smell, see, hear, feel and that which we store in our memories). Before we MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 07 2011

can start the process called thinking, especially logical thinking, we need to put the complicated information that continually flows over us into orderly structures. We have to sort, prioritise, shift and even reject heaps of information before entering some of it, and far from all of it, into our memories. Our thinking is an elaborate adaptation process that gives us the ground upon which to discuss historical, current and even future matters, and relate our experiences and ideas. As far as I know, we are the only species to have developed such a capacity. If we were deprived of people to communicate with, our thinking process would probably never develop in a constructive way. The brain would instead be subjected to thinking deprivation and our communicative ability with others would be extremely limited. That which we choose to tell others and that which others choose to tell us follows a cultural strategy chiselled into the fabric of society that could even be likened to an ideological movement. In other words, we only speak in what we regard as politically-correct terms. This correctness requires a high degree of sobriety and a very narrow demarcation of the subject areas that we regard as suitable for others to hear. Most of the things

we experience or fantasise over we never talk about at all. This, of course, has its implications for our thinking. The less we tell each other of our conceptions and experiences, the less we sharpen our intellectual prowess. The less we sharpen our intellectual prowess, the more ‘material’ is left inside us, where it is shaped into what can only be described as a deep well of unconsciousness. We find it increasingly difficult to reach the contents of this well, which, in most cases, become somewhat obscured. But this is not to say that these unconscious layers within us are put out to grass. Not at all. Only the conscious processes of the cerebral cortex are denied access to them. It is comparable to putting a blanket over an ant hill and assuming that the hill and its occupants no longer exist; that they would be gone forever and thus rendered harmless. But they are not, of course. Life under the blanket goes on, albeit in a slightly different form. What happens is that we people gradually change. Instead of being transparent, communicative and open we learn to be bilingual: we talk with our mouths in the one way and use mimicry and body language in the other. When we are in harmony with our surroundings these two languages often blend into one, or a


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34 | MEETING PSYCHOLOGY

“Talking takes on a whole new meaning and new knowledge is attained. The mutual, deeper communication becomes a lifeline to cling on to.”

proximate language. In disharmony, it becomes twice as visible; and odd for those who do not understand people’s duplicity. The double person, quite often, suffers mentally. It is similar to two wills fighting an internal struggle that sets in motion a repeated and intractable state of conflict. Even if these conflicts are not reachable for a person’s consciousness they will still act inside the person like biological systems, causing unconscious processes that affect the body organs in one way or another. This forms one of foundations of psychosomatic theory, namely that innumerable dysfunctions or illnesses could be linked to that which takes place in the inner self and which has no form of self control. In the book Den Analytiska gruppen (The Analytical Group), Psychoanalyst Doctor Olov Dahlin writes: “Psychoanalytical metatheory can be applied to the fundamental hypotheses that are common for many psychoanalytical schools: 1. Psychic processes have a purpose. This implies intent in interrelationships. 2. There are unconscious psychic processes.

MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 07 2011

3. Psychic processes are characterised by conflicts. 4. Psychic processes here and now have a development aspect because previous experiences shape them in one way or the other. 5. The aim is for the person undergoing psychoanalysis to get a better insight into themselves and their surroundings, which would normally lead to change.” It is not only the classic Freudian psychoanalysis that embraces these five points, but also the form that goes under the name of group therapy. As the title implies, group therapy places the emphasis on the group rather than on the individual. The most common model is a group made up of six to eight people plus the group leader, or group therapist. As a rule, the members do not know each other and are told at the beginning not to have contact between the sessions, which usually last around ninety minutes, once a week. The method is easy to describe but not as easy to put into practice. Members are encouraged to talk to each other as unconstrained as possible. Nothing is regarded as too trivial and it should be possible to take up any issue. In the best scenario the group would reach the stage of

free-flowing discussion, the classic ‘free associations’ of psychoanalysis. The task of the group therapist is to find ways of encouraging and supporting this free-flowing discussion and, through interpretations, help the group members understand when, how and why blockages, resistance and avoidance arise from what are, in all probability, more burning issues. These include normal, and, in many cases, complicated, conflicts that can sometimes be initiated by events within the group, but just as often by members projecting their inner conflicts that are transferred from their inner group affiliation. In this way patterns begin to emerge for the members’ emotional blockages, leading to a process of self-analysis and ultimately better self-insight. It is this gradual self-insight that enables them to approach their lives in new ways. In-depth meetings directed and run in this way are healthy for both the body and the soul. Talking takes on a whole new meaning and new knowledge is attained. The mutual, deeper communication becomes a lifeline to cling on to.


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G TEXT

Atti Soenarso

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PHOTOS

Sara Appelgren

Gunnar Öhlén’s business card reads: Head, Department of Emergency Medicine, MD, Ph D, IM-past President, European Society for Emergency Medicine, EuSEM Karolinska University Hospital – Huddinge, Stockholm, Sweden. He could also add The Meeting Planner of the Year 2009, an award he received from Meetings International. The citation read: “Gunnar Öhlén puts his heart and soul, and a great deal of time and effort, into making Emergency Medicine an established specialist field throughout Europe.”

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Gunnar Öhlén has played a major

role in making Emergency Medicine a specialist medical field through meetings in Sweden and abroad. He got through his first international meeting in Stockholm by the skin of his teeth, having forgotten the drinks for the first network dinner. A quick visit to the nearest food store saved the day, although the Finnish contin-

empathetic care of the ever-increasing number of elderly people.” Today, Öhlén is a respected name in international circles. He has no idea how many congresses he has implemented, but he has made a good number of site visits to scrutinise destinations and evaluate their chances of succeeding with an important congress.

“Although the Finnish contingent considered 1.2 percent volume cider a rather odd choice for the meal that was served: ‘At least I never forgot to order wine for the meals after that.’” gent considered 1.2 percent volume cider a rather odd choice for the meal that was served: “At least I never forgot to order wine for the meals after that.” Twenty-five years on and Öhlén is looked upon as a trendsetter in the Swedish congress industry. Congresses are not organised for the benefit of hotels, large congress venues, taxis, airlines, shopping and restaurants, but to provide knowledge to the delegates and to give new impulses to doctors who may have travelled from the other side of the globe for knowledge that they might not have access to in their own countries - where many work in isolation. “Emergency Medicine is a popular subject for television series, where viewers get a front seat to watch doctors working under extremely stressful conditions. It’s a picture that often tallies with the reality that doctors face in their daily lives. They have to make rapid diagnoses for which they may lack the expertise. But there’s also the other side of the coin, like the highly professional, MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 07 2011

Last autumn, Stockholm hosted the European Emergency Medical Meeting EuSEM 2010. The meeting took place at the Stockholm City Conference Centre, parallel with the twelfth annual meeting of the Swedish Society for Emergency Medicine (SweSEM) and Akutdagarna 2010. A total of 1,500 delegates participated. “Education is a vital part of any congress, but the networking aspect of forming new contacts and getting new insights is reason enough for doctors to participate in congresses and other meetings within their specialist fields.” According to Öhlén, in the 20th century more emphasis was placed on developing depth rather than breadth, and it is easy to put blinkers on. If you were to bring together the twelve most skilled doctors within a medical field from a hundred years ago, chances are that they would possess sole knowledge of the diagnostics within that field. Today, a hundred or even a thousand specialists would

not suffice due to the rapid advancement of medical research. Thanks to researchers in networks, knowledge is rapidly spread between continents like Australia, North America and Europe. The organisations develop parallel with each other. “The healthcare sector has developed at breathtaking speed in the past ten to twenty years. Medical development costs huge amounts and if we fail to link that development with organisational development then the gap increases, both in terms of knowledge and economically. We must simply economise with the financial resources.” In Öhlén’s view, organisational skills and medical knowledge are attainable at congresses. Fields that are under development can bring together doctors who would otherwise be quite isolated knowledge-wise in their respective countries. Meeting colleagues from the same specialist field, and in real time, provides doctors with new experiences and the opportunity to discuss the subject in-depth with their colleagues. The first EuSEM meeting was held seventeen years ago by forty dedicated doctors who predicted a future for Emergency Medicine. Today, Emergency Medicine is a specialist field in more than sixty countries. A hundred years ago a district medical officer would have been expected to manage all the diagnoses. Today, you could be a world authority on a few cells in the body but would find it difficult to make a correct diagnosis outside of your specialist field. This is where Gunnar Öhlén and his colleagues claim they have a vital role to play. “Among our experienced subspecialist colleagues we often see a certain uncomfortableness in their generalist role. As a subspecialist it’s easy to feel insecure in the emergency


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“We as a specialist field are able to influence the EU, governments and other legislative bodies at the global level.” ward because the doctor’s role demands rapid decisions based on the overall picture and not just a few centimetres of the patient. The patient could well die or go blind in the time it takes to make a decision because of the doctor lacking the expertise to make the correct diagnosis.” Supporting local associations in different countries, supporting meeting activities, helping a medical journal within this field of expertise were crucial elements of the work when Öhlén began in the mid 1990s. Add to this the significance of building networks. “There are two or three directions that influence developments. The national associations and those at European level, and how we as a specialist field are able to influence the EU, governments and other legislative bodies at the global level. Our meetings have a great significance in this process. Internationally, we work with two or three meetings. Every other year we hold a meeting in Europe and every other year we take a more global grip. We also connect alliances with, for example, WHO, whereby they receive support to involve doctors from countries that would benefit from participating. Safe Hospitals was a theme that we expanded on at the autumn meeting in Stockholm. Unfortunately, it became more acute following the events in Haiti just over a year ago. If we don’t build safe houses, how are

we going to cope with future earthquakes and other disasters requiring mass emergency medical care?” One could say that medical development is meetings intensive and that doctor congresses are very sought after. Emergency Medicine as a field has advanced a great deal internationally, which is also reflected in meetings activities. In April, the Annual Critical Care Symposium will be held in Birmingham and in autumn 2009, the Fifth Mediterranean Emergency Medicine Congress was held in Valencia, Spain. Previous Mediterranean congresses have been hosted in Stresa, Italy in 2001; Sitges, Spain in 2003; Nice, France in 2005; and Sorrento, Italy, four years ago. In June of last year, the 13th ICEM was held in Singapore with around 1,900 delegates, and in September this year the next Mediterranean Emergency Medicine Congress will be held on the Greek island of Kos. Additionally, an eastern European congress was held in June 2009, while a further congress in Germany was held in October, where EuSEM was represented. Öhlén is looking forward to visiting Dublin’s new congress centre in the summer, where this year’s ICEM congress is being hosted. He says he can see clear signs of competition hardening as organisers scramble to win Emergency Medicine congresses. “Turkey is emerging and has an increasing number of destinations

with excellent facilities. Vienna is another competitor with both modern and historical congress venues, likewise Copenhagen, which is becoming a real rival to Stockholm, Barcelona and Amsterdam. Competition will toughen as the congress industry develops throughout the world.” With regard to green meetings and sustainability, Öhlén says that the new international meetings protocol, drawn up after the COP15 meeting in Copenhagen, will be a blueprint for all future large international congresses. This will require a smooth public transport system from airports as well as between hotels and congress venues. Coordinated hotel solutions are becoming increasingly important. Öhlén considers Amsterdam as a good example. The city has worked on its hotel situation to bring itself back on the map for a large cardiology meeting. “A congress venue’s internal environmental work will also increase in importance with issues like energy consumption high on the agenda. Some venues in England have utilised rainwater. The catering side is also of great significance. Locally produced goods are much more appreciated than, say, being served an endangered fish species.”

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R

TEIG     LAND TEXT

Tomas Dalström

PHOTOS

Sara Appelgren

Robin Teigland, Associate Professor at the Department of Marketing and Strategy at the Stockholm School of Economics, came to Sweden from the USA in 1992. Since her days as a research associate, she has been fascinated by how people use their informal networks, offline and online, to carry out their work. She currently heads a large international research project on entrepreneurship and innovation within virtual worlds, that is to say, the threedimensional internet of tomorrow.

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Three years ago, Teigland won

the Stockholm School of Economics Scientist of the Year Award. She is in demand as a speaker and has had several articles published in reputable international journals. Scientists have discovered a hormone in the brain that explains why we engage in social media. Could you tell us something about it?

“Studies show that oxytocin, commonly known as the love or cuddle hormone, is secreted more when a person uses social media. One experiment showed a 13 percent increase of oxytocin in a person’s brain after they had Twittered for ten minutes, the same as in a bride. The stress hormone levels also fell. Paul Zak, Professor of Neuroeconomics at Claremont Graduate University in California, is behind this new research field.” What is oxytocin?

“It’s a hormone and signal substance that sends positive signals to the body during friendly physical touch. It could be a hug or somebody putting their hand on your arm. Oxytocin controls several vital functions and is crucial to our survival. Previously it was thought to be a female hormone because it triggers breast milk production and creates an emotional bond between mother and child. Today we know that the hormone plays a significantly greater role than that, and for men as well. For example, oxytocin lowers the blood pressure and stress hormone levels. We become more sociable and in touch with our surroundings. All touch is addictive and the effects remain for some time.” Paul Zak is also trying to find a link between empathy and generosity.

“I think we’re breaking new ground and there’s something in Paul Zak’s research. But I try to hold back on my opinions because I’m not

a brain researcher. I’ve spoken to people who know more about brain research than I do and they say we are only in the infancy of brain research. One should also bear in mind that many of Zak’s studies have been carried out on a small group of people.” Why is his research so important?

“Basically, I think it has to do with trends and priorities. He’s in a new field that we simply must investigate - it’s facinating. We also have to consider how fast it’s all happening.

other, the more trust we get. I communicate with you and can perceive your behavioural patterns and attitudes. Interactivity makes it easier to form trust. Social media helps you create a dialogue with your customers. You can invite them in when developing products and customer services. Companies can no longer stand with a megaphone. That’s the greatest difference.” Could you give some examples?

“We’re firmly lodged in our old

“Studies show that oxytocin, commonly known as the love or cuddle hormone, is secreted more when a person uses social media.” How long have Facebook and Twitter been around? We’ve hardly begun to understand the brain processes.” A survey was conducted on 200 students in Maryland, USA, that showed they suffered a ‘hangover’ when they were banned from using their computers and mobile phones for a day. They missed their personal contacts more than anything. Could this be linked to oxytocin?

“I think so. You’re always looking to form relationships. You want to communicate, hold a dialogue and be acknowledged for what you do. According to Zak, when creating relationships we produce an oxytocin flow. I would think it has to do with that. We feel isolated when we’re cut off from our network and miss the dialogue and interactivity, thus the hangover.” Based on Zak’s research findings, how should an organisation go about becoming successful?

“It’s basically about interactivity, which is extremely important. The more we communicate with each

way of seeing companies, which stems from the industrial revolution when we stood in factories and worked. Society has completely different productive forces these days. We must therefore change our basic perception of entrepreneurship. One company to have done this is eZ Systems, a Norwegian IT company with a workforce of 70. The company has 37,000 developers around the world, people who work for the company for nothing in a community and control the development of their products. The company gives its products away to large companies and organisations, like the UN, and sell their service to them. The whole concept is based on social media and a dialogue with the users.” What do the people who develop this for nothing get out of it?

“That’s the interesting part because eZ Systems are not always aware of who the developer is. There are several reasons. One is the acknowledgment they get from their community colleagues, they

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are highly skilled so they get assignments. They learn and get support from each other. It’s a give and take. It’s very interesting to see a company break away from the old business norms, open up and invite customers and developers to take part in all the processes. “Another example is Zappos, a marketplace for shoes and fashion garments. Their sales for 2008 totalled US $1 billion. The business began in the latter half of the 1990s and they say the only thing they focus on is customer service, customer service and customer service. All employees have Twitter accounts; all create dialogues. It’s also extremely transparent with everything online. You can even see what the CEO says to the employees at internal meetings. The CEO can Twitter about going to Brazil for a barbeque. Why should a CEO do that? Because it’s all about creating relationships. The better you get to know a person on a personal level, the stronger the professional relationship and the greater the trust.” And even more oxytocin...

“Of course. If a company manages to build relationships, not only at business level but also at social level, the stronger the relationship and the greater the amounts of oxytocin. In the old days, the majority of a company’s customers were on a professional level, but today they understand the need for relationships on a social level. When Zappos’ CEO goes public with the news that he’s going to a barbeque in Brazil you could question whether a CEO should be saying this kind of thing to customers. Why is it interesting? Because they find out that he likes barbeques and travelling. This way they get to know him better. But it also means that I, who has a friend with a shoe factory in Brazil, can contact him and connect MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 07 2011

them. By being accessible in this way, Zappos creates a completely different type of transparency and opens up for a dialogue.” Where do small private companies find the time for Twitter and Facebook?

“They need a whole new approach. Sending ten emails takes much longer than putting something on Facebook, where you come into contact with lots of people. Small companies have many more advantages these days.

like Hollywood where knowledge is spread face-to-face. This opportunity now exists in the virtual world and that’s extremely fascinating. We’re also looking at what is happening in the traditional physical clusters and can see they are beginning to move into the virtual world. The fashion industry, with its photography, models and glittering fashion, is another sector in which the entire ecosystem is emerging in virtual worlds. Businesses have many more

“You can send ripples through your network by talking about your products and services. It’s a very effective method of word of mouth communication and marketing.” You can send ripples through your network by talking about your products and services. It’s a very effective method of word of mouth communication and marketing. As a small company, you have much greater advantages than you had fifteen or twenty years ago. You have access to people all over the world who would be interested in your products. You can go out and talk to people, invite them to take part in virtual worlds and development processes, and you can begin to compete with large international corporations who have always had the resources for global ventures.” “We’re currently studying Machinima, a new way of producing films in a virtual world. A new film industry is emerging. We’re studying the ecosystems of entrepreneurs who are taking part. Where are they in the physical world? How do they interact in this virtual world? Today, anybody wanting to become a good director or actor has to seek physical clusters

opportunities.” How long will it take to become mainstream?

“Look back fifteen years at the internet, where were we then and how far have we come in such a short time? Look ten or fifteen years ahead at the three dimensional internet that will affect us all in many ways. We are still in the starting blocks of these developments.” Three dimensional internet?

“IC You is a Swedish company that will soon be launching a 3D world, for smartphones initially. Their target group is football fans who gather in their club’s virtual world to watch a match together. Up to now, downloaded software has been required to make it work, but 3D browsers are under development for smartphones and tablet PCs. Rumour has it that Facebook has bought a 3D project and could be developing a 3D world, and Second Life has released a beta version of a 3D browser. Suddenly


A BRAIN CHECK | 47

anyone with an internet connection can have a 3D world.” “Many companies are looking into how they can use virtual worlds internally. IBM Academy has for years held a three-day conference for its top engineers and developers. In recent years, they have gone over to a virtual world. They claim it has been a great success with results as good as, if not better than, a physical meeting. It enables us to break through mental barriers in communication and avoid hierarchies and to create simulations and games. We can stimulate the imagination in a completely different way than in the physical world.”

increases when my avatar starts running. There’s a connection with your avatar. Research is being conducted into this at Stanford and other universities.” “In another interesting research project they gave test subjects avatars. Those given tall avatars were on average better negotiators than those given short avatars, regardless of how

How exactly do IBM Academy hold a meeting?

“I enter through my avatar in this world. An avatar is an image that represents a user; all participants have their own avatar. I can change avatars from day to day. A dragon, Batman, a cloud, myself or something else. Creativity is given plenty of legroom and I get to play something other than what I am in the physical world. I escape all the expectations put on me. Meetings organisers can also create different environments, like a beach, an office or a factory. Anyone can change it by pressing a key. We can watch films, chat, write, show PowerPoint images and produce things together. It all creates a feeling of being present at a meeting. It’s easier to remember details and experiences from a meeting, compared to a Skype or telephone meeting: ‘I remember when you drew that sketch or showed those pictures.’” “I hold a monthly meeting in my Second Life project. I prefer to do it in a virtual world rather than by Skype or phone. You get a completely different feeling of being there. You project yourself on your avatar; feel as though you are actually in that world. Research shows that my pulse

Robin Teigland’s avatar, created by Göran Lindqvist.

tall the persons were in reality. You not only project yourself onto your avatar but also on the other avatars: ‘This person seems like a good negotiator. No point in giving 100 percent.’ This connection, and how to influence creativity with the help of an avatar, is something I would really like to research into with a brain researcher.”

How many people use virtual worlds today?

“Roughly one billion. Fifty percent are in the seven to fifteen bracket if I remember correctly. When they start work later on, virtual worlds are second nature to them.” In Meetings International 38/2010, Business Intelligence Analyst Jens Lanvin said that job dismissals and organisational changes have always been done behind closed doors and in private meetings. In the future, it could well be done in digital channels, but how should we go about it?

“There are already companies that recruit staff through virtual worlds, so why not dismissals as well? Teenagers break up by texting. I was born in 1964. My generation is used to building trust and communicating face-to-face; the younger generation has whole new ways of communicating. They develop other behavioural patterns, norms and ways of seeing how to trust people in digital media. We older people have to relearn, add the new way of being to the behaviour we already have. The new generation just learn.” This could cause problems for the person who has to communicate with different generations, and, for example, dismiss a large group of people.

“It’s certainly a challenge for company managers. A workplace has a large generation span and each generation has its method of communicating. As a manager you have to know the best way to put across your message. This person wants face-to-face, while this group prefers communication in a virtual world. It’s all about good leadership.” According to Jens Lanvin, ten percent of young people consider it okay to conduct a job interview on Facebook and in World of Warcraft. How is a 2011 No. 07 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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job interview conducted in World of Warcraft?

“There are various guilds. One of my students was a member of a top guild in Europe. He said it was more difficult to become a member of that guild than to get a job at McKinsey. Job interviews are conducted in World of Warcraft in the same way as in the real world. You submit your CV, book a meeting and those who interview you check your references. Job interviews in a 3D world could also include simulations and role play, something that’s much more difficult to do in the real world. It brings a whole new dimension to the employment process. In the future, face-to-face communication could well give way to virtual communication. That’s where the interview is conducted because that’s the workplace.” You mention seven or eight fundamental principles for social media and informal networks. These include a) self-regulating, b) control, and c) you have to give to receive. Could you elaborate on this?

“Giving to receive is definitely the most important principle. Control means you can’t control who talks to who, how and through which channels, etcetera. You can’t change people’s behaviour and control them. There are companies that ban Facebook during working hours. People do it anyway, they get around it somehow. So you can’t control them. For example, a company began using Facebook and their PR manager was asked if he wasn’t concerned about people writing things they shouldn’t about their products and staff, etcetera. He replied that they had no policy governing what their staff were allowed to write because his basic principle was that networking is self-regulating. He went on to describe an incident in which a

member of staff wrote something inappropriate about a product they had launched. Within five minutes he’d received a message from another person in the network telling him it was inappropriate, upon which he deleted his text. Many managers are unnecessarily concerned and try to keep control. But people usually do what’s best, and that’s self-regulating.”

haven’t yet developed ways of handling social networking.” How should companies and organisations approach it?

“They have to form a dialogue instead of trying to ignore the problem. They have to ask: ‘How shall we use social media, what guidelines do we have, how can we use it to improve our competitive edge, create more innovations, increase sales and

“One of my students was a member of a top guild in Europe. He said it was more difficult to become a member of that guild than to get a job at McKinsey.” I’ve met managers who are concerned about people blogging and not getting any work done.

“This has to do with leadership. What kind of leader are you? What sort of reward system do you use? As an employee, you must be given work tasks to complete. You have to get people engaged in their work. There’s nothing wrong with the staff, it’s the leadership that’s at fault.” And there’s nothing wrong with the technology either…

“No. What did people do before blogging and Facebook arrived? They probably took longer lunch breaks, chatted on the phone, wrote a lot of emails. There are people who don’t do their jobs regardless of the technology. This has led to managers checking how long people spend on Facebook and banning them from using it when in actual fact it’s a management issue.” “I heard an interesting debate where smoking was taken as an example of how long it has taken to develop new forms of behaviour. Twitter has only been around for four or five years so it’s not strange that we

improve customer service?’ When they don’t take up the debate and go into denial over the problem it becomes worse. They have to use the internet in the best possible way. But sitting on the internet for hours doing private things isn’t good either.” “I’ve spoken to companies that have closed Facebook and claimed it’s saved them time. Did they know what their staff were doing there? No, they didn’t. They could have been working. If somebody were to look at me, I spend a lot of time on Facebook. I work there. I share things, I learn and can ask somebody in my network for help and get a reply. It’s all about discussing how to use social networks in a business environment.” Today, we are building online virtual networks. What makes you so interested in this particular subject?

“My father is a professor in theoretical organic chemistry. I began playing online games with others in the university’s network in 1978–79. I was born in 1964. My father bought a powerful computer for the university and I dressed up as a computer for Halloween in 1973. When I was 15 my 2011 No. 07 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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father told me to learn to typewrite. I replied that I wasn’t planning on becoming a secretary, to which he said that everybody would soon have a computer on their desk. I took a course and I’m glad I did.” “I’ve been on the internet technology bandwagon since it started. I researched a lot into online communities in the late 1990s when they began to arrive; mailing lists and

Why is the relationship between people and avatars so important?

“We don’t know enough about this yet, which is why I advocate getting brain researchers involved. I’d like to know what happens in the brain when my avatar does things. As I mentioned before, research shows that when my avatar starts running my pulse increases. I project myself in my avatar. There’s also medical research that

“We’re creatures of habit and take things we feel in the physical world into our virtual world.” discussion forums, for example. I could see back then how many people used it in their work and informal networks.” Why do we have a need to create virtual resemblances of our realities and social networks?

“There are different explanations. One is that people have the urge to discover what goes and what doesn’t go. Another is that we gladly communicate. Put two people in a room with a strict order not to communicate and they will anyway. When we create a new way to communicate; we become curious and want to learn all about it. We also like to fantasise, create narratives and be creative. New technology is a fantastic platform for that.” Is it mainly males who dedicate their time to virtual worlds and avatars?

“No. It’s about fifty-fifty.”

shows that if you give a large person in very poor shape a slim and fit avatar then that person starts thinking like a slim person and begins changing their behaviour patterns. The more you do it the more you become like your avatar, and vice versa.” That sounds like mental training. The brain cannot differentiate between what you think and what you do. What you do during meditation, you can later do in the physical world.

“There could be something in that. A teacher at the Linnaeus University in Växjö, Sweden, teaches Business English in Second Life. His students come from all over the world. He uses roleplay when he has to enter a relationship with his avatar. He’s taught the course in the physical world for many years and says that the situation is completely different

in Second Life. Students are less afraid to try things; they get over the learning threshold much quicker and learn things faster.” How important is it for you to be anonymous?

“I have two avatars. One is my professional avatar and the other my anonymous avatar that I use when researching. I don’t always want them to know who I am as it could affect the way others act and the answers I get. “A company, the name of which I can’t recall, wanted feedback for an organisational change they had done, so they asked in Second Life. The CEO had an avatar that everybody recognised. The employees could choose an anonymous avatar and speak their minds in an open dialogue. This created a whole new transparency and the company got better feedback on what needed to be improved.” So the avatar you choose has a great significance?

“Research shows that if you have a large, ugly and off-putting avatar people won’t talk with you as they would if it were pleasant and inviting. And just like in the physical world, my avatar doesn’t want anybody standing too close. If your avatar gets too close then I back off. It feels uncomfortable. We’re creatures of habit and take things we feel in the physical world into our virtual world.” In her book Generation Y, British author Zadie Smith questions whether we are aware of what the program does with us. Is it possible

Tomas Dalström is an author, journalist, lecturer and innovator with a passion for the brain. He has written a book entitled Bäst i text (Best in Text) about how to write texts that communicate on the terms and conditions of the brain. He runs the websites veryimportantbrains.se and readrunner.se.

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that the things people divulge online finally becomes the truth about them?

“Not many of us are aware of what the program does with us and not many of us think about it. Also, I’m not sure we reflect over how our communication changes when, for example, we start a new school or join a new gang.” Despite everything, people do embarrass themselves on forums.

“Yes, that’s true but people have always embarrassed themselves.”

What’s coming after 3D?

“We’re facing some exciting changes. There’s talk of semantic web, which makes it possible for machines to understand the meaning of online information, and of collective intelligence, one of my areas of interest. Avatars will, of course, develop. With special contact lenses and three dimensional objects, you will be able to do things with the object using your fingers. We will have digital wallpaper and virtual worlds without a screen or mouse but a sensor that reads what you do. We’re only in the infancy and can’t see where developments are leading. I’d love to return in a hundred years or so and see what’s happened.”

meet. understand. network. experience. contribute. excite. convene. present. motivate. interact. participate. exhibit. create. inspire. connect. exchange. select. succeed. meet in Vienna.

www.messecongress.at www.vienna.convention.at

www.messecongress.at www.vienna.convention.at

“Exactly! But it can now have more far-reaching consequences. I have discussions with my 16-year-old: ‘You must always consider the situation you find yourself in and the way you act. You never know who’s writing about you or putting a picture of you online. There’s nothing you can do about it, it’s out there.’ We must keep an open dialogue. But a lot of people are too naïve. I saw somewhere that there exists an alcohol lock-out device for the internet. That’s fascinating. But it’s important. There are people who after a few glasses of wine decide to contact their ex-partner. Such a device might make us think twice!”

meet. understand. network. experience. contribute. excite. convene. present. motivate. interact. participate. exhibit. create. inspire. connect. exchange. select. succeed. meet in Vienna.

Absolutely, I’ve done it myself more than once…


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HAL   LIN TEXT

Atti Soenarso

PHOTOS

Sara Appelgren

Meetings Broker Thomas Hallin has established himself as a pioneer in creating meetings in collaboration with a destination’s university, public and private sectors and chamber of commerce. He has been commuting between Florida and Sweden since last year, and is working with Karlstad Convention Bureau on a meeting concept for the town’s new Congress and Culture Centre. The aim is to attract an annual congress.

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“It’s also important to understand that you’re not alone, there are other players who could assist”

Increasingly, more destinations

and authorities are paying attention to Hallin’s working method, and indicating their desire to adopt the same systematic approach. His emphasis is on creating meetings around the destination’s or region’s experts, specialists and private sector players and on making the process and congresses more effective, purposeful and sustainable with the goal of helping the customer think, act, meet and collaborate differently, before, during and after a meeting. Hallin began his career as a professional dancer and actor in Sweden, working in both Stockholm and New York. He eventually left the artistic life to work for Marriott International, where he held several positions as a seller. He was Senior Sales Manager at the San Francisco Marriott Moscone Center and led their International Sales Department. Thereafter, he returned to New York, where he was initially responsible for the hotel group’s International Sales Office, with a focus on travel wholesalers in north eastern USA, and later their Worldwide Sales Team, which concentrated on strengthening the collaboration with global business travel and meetings customers in the same region. He has also worked with MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 07 2011

Strategic Account Management for, and has had global sales and customer accounts with multinational clients such as Credit Suisse, Novartis, Sony and Vivendi. He has been a member of the International Chamber of Commerce, among other organisations in the meetings industry. The idea of becoming a meetings broker stemmed from his willingness to help, an unyielding urge to improve things and twenty years of experience in the US hotel and meetings sector. This personality and life and work experiences have combined in Hallin’s innovative way of looking at destinations. “For many years, we’ve been helping colleagues to see the value of selling groups the destination first before the hotel and attractions. This enables you to not only focus on the qualities of the destination or product but the advantages offered by the destination itself. There are many destinations with similar and/ or equivalent qualities – sometimes better or worse, sometimes cheaper or dearer – that you compete over to get a group to choose. In order to find the best solution for all concerned, it’s important to look at how other factors influence the customer’s


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“It is the goals and strategies of companies, organisations and other interest groups that lead to meetings and it is their needs, resource levels and economies that pushes the meetings industry forward”

needs and objectives in their choice of a meeting place.” “Such factors could include security, technology and the weather conditions at the destination. It could also be about location and logistics, that is, how to get there, the on-site transport needs and freight and customs regulations. Another factor is attractions and possibilities. Ask yourself: what else is at the destination that makes it attractive for the group to travel there? Is there a local office worth visiting, an interesting customer or something special going on at the time that the group would find worthwhile?” “It’s also important to understand that you’re not alone, there are other players who could assist and who even have an interest in selling at the same destination. Identify these players and get their help. There could be economic or efficiency advantages in collaborating with competitors. Together you could probably manage larger customers than what you’d normally cope with yourself. When the customer begins to see the value and advantages of the destination, its the time to negotiate a price.” When Hallin draws up a project he puts a great deal of time into business

intelligence and research. As well as talking to people who are familiar with the subject areas covered by the project, he searches for information in local, regional and national newspapers, trade journals, newsletters, radio and television, websites and blogs. It could also involve taking part in congresses, fairs, seminars and events that help him expand his network while improving his knowledge of the subject. The amount of time he needs for research and analysis to create a development project varies, depending on the destination, prevailing conditions and, not least, the commitment and inspiration of the customer. But when is the right time for contacting new customers? “Early, preferably, if it’s about collaboration. You then have to find out who’s involved in the project, the influence these people have within the company and the decisions they’re allowed to make.” “The idea behind collaboration is that it can lead to more jobs and the chance to sell more innovative meetings products and services in the future as well. All meetings lead to something, and I simply want them to lead to something positive.”

The manner in which Hallin is received when he meets a new customer varies. Some people can be sceptical and wonder if he has a hidden agenda. People from chambers of commerce, municipalities and regions, entrepreneurs, universities and companies who, in one way or another, strive to grow or to make a difference, adapt best to Hallin’s ideas. The positions held by the people vary, but the common denominator is that all have a great interest in contributing to positive development. Customers do not always understand what Hallin wants to achieve. Some people need time to consider the new approach. Others take to a suggestion immediately and have ideas that push the project forward. “That’s the way it was in Karlstad. They appreciated the concept, took initiative, gave their views and ideas and helped with the right contacts.” Anyone who has led a project knows that misunderstandings are commonplace. In Hallin’s experience, the greatest misunderstandings arise when project members think that involvement will entail extra work, when they are unsure of their role or when they think that arranging 2011 No. 07 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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“You then have to find out who’s involved in the project, the influence these people have within the company and the decisions they’re allowed to make.”

a successful congress would be too expensive for their organisation. “Being clear about our expectations to all involved is especially important for a successful meeting. Likewise always being transparent, using social media as a strategic instrument and utilising the technological solutions that exist.” Who are the people who are taking the meetings industry forward? Is it the events and communication companies as many people seem to think? “It is the goals and strategies of companies, organisations and other interest groups that lead to meetings and it is their needs, resource levels and economies that pushes the meetings industry forward and forces us suppliers to develop better approaches.” Hallin thinks that the meetings industry must free itself of its label of being an adult playground consisting of unprofessional and unproductive meetings. “All meetings must aim to be explicit and relevant, effective and productive, interesting and inspirational. It’s also about increasing interactivity, embracing the collective knowledge that exists at, for example, a congress, and ensuring that the meeting leads to something positive. MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 07 2011

Succeeding with this requires a platform from which delegates can communicate and collaborate, before, during and after the meeting. A congress is a milepost, not the end of a journey.” Hallin sees the global meetings industry developing into a field whose keywords are Easier, Faster, Better. It will also be more interactive and rewarding for all concerned and from a total perspective. One of the items on his wish list for developing meetings is for everybody concerned to realise the value of effective meetings. If it were up to him, all delegates and organisers would place much greater demands on improving a meeting’s planning, implementation and follow up – with more time being allocated to the quality control of meetings. “Delegates can also contribute to pushing developments forward. One way is for them to demand that their meetings be planned, implemented and followed up much better than it is currently.” “I would also like first class statistics on meetings from around the world, according to the principle developed by Professor Hans Rosling, one of the founders of the Gapminder Foundation, an institution that is

dedicated to good global development by making statistics easier to use and understand.” Regarding the current and future influence of the younger generation on the meetings industry, Hallin believes that the innovative technology, favoured by this generation, will make planning more productive and simpler. The presentations will be shorter and more interactive and this will lead to better Return on Investment and Return on Objective, increased communication and meetings becoming more delegate and environmentally friendly. And what advice does he have for younger members of the meetings industry and those considering a future as a meetings broker? “Learn as much as you can from experienced people in the industry, but don’t forget to also learn from people in other sectors. Don’t be afraid to question how and why something is presented in a particular fashion. Dare to introduce other ways of thinking and present new perspectives and approaches. My motto is: every day that I learn something new is a special day.”


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As the world spins faster, IMEX’s revolutionary approach to business is the answer. Are you equipped for 21st century business? The ground rules of business may be changing fast as technology, environmental and economic issues interact, but IMEX will make every challenge easier to tackle. IMEX 2011, live in Frankfurt 24-26 May, will feature our most spectacular New Vision education programme yet - new dimensions of intelligence, insight and ideas from top experts on topical subjects including social media, industry developments, business know-how and your career path. At IMEX 2011 you’ll meet more top people than anywhere else. The meetings and events industry’s favourite show in the worldwide calendar will be buzzing with new contacts and great deals, as well as great thinking. Come to IMEX in Frankfurt in May. For your business and your career it will be a giant leap forward.

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BRIGHT CONVENTIONS BORNHOLM Welcome to Bornholm Bornholm is known for its hospitality. As the most eastern part of Denmark, this beautiful island is also well known for its superb beaches and wealth of leisure activities. Bornholm also boasts great venues for corporate meetings and other events. Bright Green Island Bornholm is considered a leader in environmental initiatives and the region has invested considerable resources in devising

Bright Conventions Bornholm torvegade 7, DK-3700 rønne tel: +45 30 70 19 73 www.brightconventionsbornholm.com

a dedicated island-wide sustainability policy called Bright Green Island. Bright Conventions Bornholm Bright Conventions Bornholm is a newly established organisation, aimed at facilitating contact between corporate clients and the Bornholm meetings industry and related venues. We are happy to assist in every stage involved in the planning of an event on Bornholm,

including finding venues, introducing clients to relevant hotels and facilities, helping to create an exciting team-building programme, organising meetings, incentive groups and technical visits. Contact us for further information and booking: Bright Conventions Bornholm info@brightconventions.com tel.: +45 56 95 73 00 www.brightconventionsbornholm.com


R AD A R | 61

“The hotel industry has a surplus of similar companies, outsourcing from similar third parties, employing similar people, working in similar jobs, coming up with similar ideas, producing similar services, with similar prices and similar quality.”

© iStockPhoto.com/Plainview

Cathy A Enz, Ph D, Professor of Strategy, Cornell University Adapted from Kjell Nordström and Jonas Ridderstråle, Funky Business


© iStockPhoto.com/GuidoVrola

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Green and Sustainable Events CAN 2011 BE A ‘CORNER TURNER’? The many ‘2010, a year in review’

lists prompt consideration of what meeting industry trends might indicate, if anything, for 2011. 2010 saw many high water marks in the pursuit of greater sustainable event performance which, in list form, might look like this:

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10

The app. Rapid uptake of smart phones and cool apps to help planners and suppliers integrate a wide array of services and communications in a user-friendly and paper-free way.

9

Food Banks. Creatively finding ways to bridge the gap between food safety and waste, a number of local food banks have been successful in receiving safe, unserved food from events which would otherwise have been wasted. We were inspired to see over 3000 meals go to communities in need during EWEC 2010, Warsaw.


SUSTAINABILITY | 63

8

CVB Leadership. Struggling for relevance in some communities, many CVB/DMO’s saw opportunity in not only promoting the sustainable features of their city, but worked to build capacity through the sponsorship of education and involvement in groups like the Green Meeting Industry Council.

7

Community Action. Sustainable events go beyond ‘green meetings’ by having effective plans to bring consideration, if not reward, to people in the communities they visit. Although not yet mainstream, many events are working to include ‘giving back’ programmes.

6

Recycled carpets. The Carpet America Recovery Effort estimates that in 2009, 311 million pounds (141 million kilograms) of carpet (of the 5.9 billion pounds thrown away) were recycled in the USA alone. That was a 19 million pound improvement over 2008, but way, way short of the goal of 40 percent of total carpet discarded. Clearly, that huge pile of waste is not entirely from events/exhibitions, but carpet waste is something of a dirty secret in the meetings industry and it’s encouraging to see major players (IMEX, as one example) including plans to reduce carpet use and/or recycling what is used.

5

Hybrid events. Concerns that an integration of virtual elements (live streaming, video links, for example) will reduce attendance or bring risk for planners (reliability, cost) – or that virtual events would somehow push aside the need for face-to-face meetings – seemed to wane in 2010 as many events reported successful initiatives to blend face-to-face meetings with

virtual elements, thereby creating ‘hybrid’ events. Still expensive and still not glitch-free, hybrid events are established as an industry megatrend.

4

Exhibitor Engagement. Exhibitions represent great waste, both material and carbon emissions. Efforts, such as those deployed by US Green Build, to engage exhibitors with education and incentive gained some traction in 2010, in spite of this being a sensitive area as planners are not keen to reduce booth space or put limits on sponsor investment.

3

Integrated carbon tracking tools. Practical, smart tools became accepted in 2010 and are being integrated into event registration systems allowing not only greater capture of delegate travel data but also increasing the amount of investment into carbon offset projects.

2

Sustainable Event Reporting. Perhaps the only real cure against ‘greenwashing’ is effective and transparent reporting. From the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit to Oracle Open World to the aforementioned EWEC 2010, diverse and influential organisers showed the importance of measuring and reporting sustainable event results.

the APEX green meeting standards and the ISO 20121 standard for sustainability in event management as well as the Copenhagen Sustainable Meetings Protocol, which seeks to integrate and advance the use of each. The above listed highlights from 2010 bring optimism that 2011 can build on this momentum and perhaps even ‘turn the corner’ for greater, more meaningful action in pursuit of sustainable events by an even greater number of suppliers and planners. These 2010 highlights indicate emerging trends for 2011, and beyond, because they represent advantage and benefit to event owners and planners. Each highlight listed here helps to build the business case for an improved, more responsible event industry which can continue to bring reward to communities everywhere. Thinking that the meetings industry can bring real change across all market sectors is inspiring but such optimism must be fuel for greater effort. Risk lurks in 2011. Economies are struggling and people are busy. Change is difficult. People want action but wait for others to deliver it. An unbalanced focus on environmental responsibility may compromise needed advancement of social justice. 2011 is here and, for sustainable meetings and events, it’s time we turned the corner.

1

The emergence of standards for sustainable event management. Actually a story from 2009, but continuing into 2010 and 2011 has been the development and release of standards which define criteria for sustainable event management. Work was completed to advance the Global Reporting Initiative event sector supplement, 2011 No. 07 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


GOTHENBURG BUILDS FOR THE FUTURE 2010 was a year of meetings. Never before have so many people visited

Presently 80 non-stop connections service the city from 55 European desti-

Gothenburg to take part in a congress or fair. This is something we are

nations making it easy getting here. More connections are to be expected

proud of. However we intend to beat this record. And that’s why we are

allowing for the Swedish west coast to be even more accessible.

building for the future. A new 29-stories third tower at the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre

On the subject of the future. Sustainable Gothenburg is a possibility for your meeting to earn an environmental certification. The city’s aspiration is

will make it one of the largest hotels in Europe with 1,200 rooms. Another

to validate every aspect of the meeting. From transportation, accommodation

addition is the new Clarion Hotel Post, a first class conference hotel with

and venue to marketing and on site office. This is part of our work to reduce

500 hotel rooms in the city center. We look forward with confidence.

carbon footprint and securing our city for generations to come.

Gothenburg is a buzzing city well-experienced in hosting major international meetings. Meeting venues, hotels, restaurants, shops and entertainment are all located in the city centre. Everything is within walking distance.

Göteborg & Co. Gothenburg Convention Bureau | T: +46 31 368 4000 | E: convention@goteborg.com | gothenburg.com

We hope to see you in the future!


ROBIN SHARMA | 65

In a survey of 22,000 business people ranking top leadership gurus, Robin Sharma was #2, with Jack Welch. Sharma’s books have sold millions of copies in over 60 countries. His new book is ”The Leader Who Had No Title: A Modern Fable on Real Success in Business and in Life” (Simon & Schuster). Robin Sharma’s blog is at robinsharma.com.

22 Ways to Become SPECTACULARLY INSPIRATIONAL 1. Do important work vs merely offering opinions. 2. Lift people up vs tear others down. 3. Use the words of leadership vs the language of victimhood. 4. Don’t worry about getting the credit for getting things done. 5. Become part of the solution rather than part of the problem. 6. Take your health to a level called superfit. 7. Commit to mastery of your craft instead of accepting mediocrity in your work. 8. Associate with people whose lives you want to be living. 9. Study for an hour a day. Double your learning and you’ll triple your success. 10. Run your own race. “No one can possibly achieve real and lasting success by being a conformist,” wrote billionaire J Paul Getty 11. Do something small yet scary every single day.

12. Lead Without a Title. 13. Focus on people’s strengths vs obsessing around their weaknesses. 14. Remember that potential unused turns into pain. So dedicate yourself to expressing your best. 15. Smile more. 16. Listen more. 17. Read the autobiography of Nelson Mandela. 18. Reflect on the words of Eleanor Roosevelt who said: “Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.” 19. Persist longer than the critics suggest you should. 20. Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. 21. Love your loved ones. 22. Do work that matters.

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Ö Q V   I S T

TEXT

Tomas Dalström PHOTOS

Sara Appelgren

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Jan Öqvist is a scenographer, producer and architect. Not many seconds pass before his environmental engagement bubbles to the surface. And not many more to see his burning passion for how we influence, and are influenced, by our senses. In Jan Öqvist’s life, the meeting and the room both play a decisive role. “I’ve been engaged in contem-

porary environmental issues and the way that external forces influence our lifestyle since the age of sixteen. This interest has naturally given rise to deeper thoughts, much of which surrounds the question of why we so often go against our better judgement.” Jan believes that his interest in contemporary issues stems from experiencing other countries’ cultures and living conditions at an early age. His father worked for SAS and the family were stationed abroad for long periods. “It formed my global perspective; everything is happening at the same time everywhere, the world is closely knit. My university studies focused mainly on practical philosophy and later, on the advice of my professor

of Moral Ethics Harald Ofstad, Ecosophy under the guidance of Arne Næss in Oslo. I combined this with an interest in biodynamic farming and a deeper environmental engagement.” This environmental engagement led Jan Öqvist to Japan in 1970 to take part in a resistance movement against the building of the Narita International Airport on Japan’s most arable land on the outskirts of Tokyo. He visited the Minamata victims and saw with his own eyes the injuries caused by environmental toxins. “Whole families were literally shaken apart due to the neurological brain damage caused by the mercury poisoning from the mercury in the food and the tin cans. The defoliation – the ecocidal warfare with Agent Orange – against the Vietnamese population, the damaging results 2011 No. 07 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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“All formative art is an attempt to recreate life out of life and, just like our metabolism, a way of processing and passing on the prerequisites of life.”

of which we can still see today, also made a lasting impression on me.” It was at the first UN Environmental Conference in Stockholm in 1972 that Jan Öqvist came face to face with just how sensitive the connection is between environment campaigning and politics. “The USA sent CIA agents here to infiltrate the environmental movement. Their aim was to discredit us as subversive communist elements who posed a threat to humanity.” To add some substance to the debate, Jan Öqvist and other environmentalists organised an alternative exhibition on the society of the future. It was called ARARAT (Alternative Research in Architecture, Resources, Art and Technology) and was an interdisciplinary manifestation of a future society based on renewable energy sources. “Ultimately, only green plant cells build up more than they break down. Therefore, our relationship MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 07 2011

with biological diversity is crucial in our future survival. The exhibition was held at Stockholm’s Modern Museum in 1976 and the weekend queues stretched all the way down to The National Museum. We displayed fascinating environmental technological innovations, both present and future, in an effort to show what could be done. We were called idealists, but looking around today, we weren’t far wrong. Man is a fragment of nature and nature is a field of symbols for Man.” Today the nuclear reactor breakdown in Fukushima poses an environmental threat that deeply concerns Jan Öqvist. “The limitations of our ecological reality will come back to haunt us. Our approach to energy and its strong link to economic growth are threatening to lead us towards economic, ecological and social disaster. You don’t need to be an ecologist, statistician or economist to see that growth


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Ulriksdals Slottsteater, Confidencen, the oldest Rococo theatre in Sweden, built 1753.


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The Butterfly House – a tropical rainforest in the Royal Park of Haga, in Stockholm


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“Ultimately, only green plant cells build up more than they break down. Therefore, our relationship with biological diversity is crucial in our future survival.”

as such is not a good, ever lasting incentive for social development.” The ARARAT project inspired the staff at the Royal Dramatic Theatre, Dramaten in their production of The Storm-project, which reflected the most urgent issue of our time, namely the relationship between nuclear power and democracy. Jan Öqvist worked as a project manager on The Storm when he was 28. “It was the only time that Dramaten has had 8,000 people queuing outside to buy tickets.” He also worked as a project manager for two ecocycle festivals in Stockholm. “I’ve also been an actor, director, scriptwriter and scenographer. I’ve designed the sets for ten movies, hundreds of television productions and several theatre productions. I’ve taught, and still teach, film directing and scenography at a number of Nordic colleges. In addition, I’m a mentor and critic on the Master’s programme of the Interior Architecture

& Furniture Design department at the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm. Parallel with this, for 30 years I’ve been a partner in two architect offices and worked as an architect of ecological buildings. When I’ve not been involved in any of these activities I’ve travelled around the world lecturing on ecosophy and ecological buildings.” He has been invited to give speeches at the International Design Conference in Aspen, US as well as at the TED conference in Kobe, Japan. Jan Öqvist sees a building as being a shell for internal activities and each room, from a historical perspective, has its starting point in the campfires we once gathered around. “The campfire was the perfect place for holding a serious meeting and exchanging knowledge and experience. With my background I interpret rooms as an invite to a communicative event and meaningbearing activities. The room is a place, an arena, a stage, an opportunity

for interaction and the exchange of knowledge and experience. We call it the biosphere. In this living space we interact with individuals, plants and matter. Whether we like it or not, we try to identify with the place. We want to see our role in the room together with the other occupants. By this I mean that the key element of any meeting is for the participants to feel noticed and be approvingly received by the meeting room. A feeling of interaction and affinity is essential. All formative art is an attempt to recreate life out of life and, just like our metabolism, a way of processing and passing on the prerequisites of life.” Jan Öqvist says that the majority of meetings venues in which he holds lectures, performances and demonstrations lack the feeling of a sender and a clear goal. Their basic design is for one-way communication. “Me up here, you down there. I’m the centre and my audience a periphery that I have to reach out to. We seldom ask who the sender 2011 No. 07 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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“Our need for a rational explanation does not exclude our need for a spiritual dimension to our existance.”

is or question the objective of the room. This could sound strange but the majority of meetings venues are more concerned with trying to satisfy as many sender needs as possible and are totally lacking in character. They’re not designed to meet the needs of the recipients: the need to participate in, and have an affinity with, that being communicated.” “We humans are the only creatures who can place the things we experience with our senses into a larger context and carry them with us as memories. We can be moved by things we are part of, we can take our emotions with us when we leave a cinema auditorium, we can identify a feeling when we read about it, we can even interpret the feelings that others carry with them despite them not being our own. In facial expressions and voices we can see and hear feelings that seemingly add a deeper dimension to the words and meanings. We are bombarded by an amazing amount of impressions the whole time. Sometimes our experiences are enhanced; sometimes we’re led off and allow ourselves to be MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 07 2011

distracted to avoid the impressions becoming all too manifest and obtrusive. Our consciousness tries to sort the many impressions into meaningful information.” So what approach should a meetings organiser or planner take in order to create the optimal conditions for this sensitive process? “They have to create a reassuring and nurturing meeting place. It’s ultimately a question of understanding the needs and desires of the delegates in any given situation. Far-reaching consideration and efficiency creates emotional added value that permeates the entire meeting and more often than not leaves a lasting impression on the delegates.” “The most successful meetings that I’ve experienced have all been planned well in advance, allowing time to bring in special expertise and create flexible solutions to problems that could arise. Even conjurers have to prepare their act; only one ace up the sleeve of the meeting organiser is never enough. A person who can bring together all the elements of a meeting to a recognisable and real

event is perhaps the right person for the job.” “Forward thinking, forward thinking and forward thinking is the meeting planner’s agenda for creating a meeting that is well-planned, wellimplemented and followed up. The many types of meetings that exist just muddy the waters, making it difficult to find the right route to a successful meeting. Generally speaking you could say that the consideration that stretches beyond the meeting is the most attractive element. The actual meeting type must be able to deal with delegates’ reactions and leave plenty of scope for feedback. Experience shows that the most successful events are those that create the best conditions for feedback. The main issue for any meeting organiser is thus: how do we bring together all the ecocycle elements of the activities that are taking part within the framework of the meeting? This question must be asked before each stage of the planning.” “Another important aspect is ensuring that the meeting organiser’s team has an ecological approach


Storkyrkan – the Great Cathedral or the mother church of the Church of Sweden – at the very heart of medieval Stockholm.

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ECOSOPHY | 77

“I see the whole meeting as one big narrative and I try to see each speaker as through a hologram, something that everybody can see from different angles and which arouses wonder and curiosity.”

in both theory and practice. This requires concrete measures that are energy and resource-efficient and which enables the delegates to feel that they are a natural part of the ecological restructuring work.” This brings us to one of Jan Öqvist’s favourite subjects — film. He thinks that the meetings industry has a lot to learn from the film industry in its use of dramaturgy, direction, scenography, lighting and sound. “The dramaturgic elements have no intrinsic value. They have to remain a backdrop while creating an emotional framework around the meeting’s content and purpose. Depending on the meeting’s allocated time and the information flow, you have to plan it in such a way so as to provide room for reflection. Its here that the delegate becomes actively involved, not during the word flow. I see the whole meeting as one big narrative and I try to see each speaker as through a hologram, something that everybody can see from different

angles and which arouses wonder and curiosity.” “There are many among us who could see themselves as a director of sorts, for example, a master of ceremonies, chairman, organiser or supervisor. This is a person who should have a bird’s eye view of proceedings and who takes responsibility for creating a schedule and space for a creative process to which the meeting delegates would wish to contribute.” “A director of a meeting should be a creative coordinator who brings together all the parts, a person who creates a feeling of security while remaining calm and attentive to all parts of the process and encouraging everybody involved to do their best. Scenography has no intrinsic value, its task is to facilitate for the delegates, enhance the experience of the meeting, help the delegates focus on the right things and to raise their concentration levels. The best scenography is seen but not heard, it doesn’t sap energy from the

meeting by advertising its existence. Scenography creates an emotional experience that enhances and illustrates the theme; it underpins the reason for the meeting.” “Is there anything more embarrassing than not being seen or heard? All too often we’re not prepared for eventualities. The acoustics at a venue are seldom tested by speakers in advance. There’s nothing more unprofessional than somebody beginning a speech by asking if you can hear him or her.” “The lighting is not only there to make somebody visible, it determines the room temperature and gives the audience a feeling of standing at the podium themselves. The viewing experience is an essential part of my job. Many times the only lighting is the front lighting, which not only portrays a flat image of the speaker but also makes eye contact with the audience difficult through the dazzle. Rear lighting is required for the speaker to be able to read their script. 2011 No. 07 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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“Mankind is a fragment of nature and nature is a field of symbols for mankind.”

Quite often the lighting between the speaker and the projectors has to be balanced so that they coordinate well. Light creates spatial emotion.” Jan Öqvist points to research that shows that the majority of the information that is slung our way passes by without trace. “We would succumb if all the impressions we get were just as strong and manifest the whole time. Professor Manfred Zimmermann at Heidelberg University has discovered that the eye sends at least ten million bits per second to the brain, while consciously we see only 40 bps of information. The skin sends one million bps, but we don’t feel more than five bps, the ear 100,000 bps but we hear only 30 bps, our sense of smell also sends 100,000 bps but taste only 1,000 bps. From both of these sense organs we only perceive one bps. When seen from this angle it’s not difficult to see the significance this would have on the experience of any given situation.” Is there anything that Jan Öqvist considers to be absolutely vital after all his years as a meetings delegate, meetings planner, organiser and speaker? “The most important thing in all formative situations when an actor, a presenter or a lecturer takes the

stage is that they feel secure and that the greatest possible consideration is taken to their personal needs and their presentation. A speaker is always most vulnerable just before their presentation. It’s vital that the prerequisites and circumstances for the presentation are clear. As an organiser you must have a preparedness that shows consideration: that all technology is working, that help is at hand, that a Plan B is in place. I quite often see lecturers who are tossed into a pool of expectations by organisers and left completely to their own devices. This leads the audience into becoming more engrossed in how they are going to cope. Generally speaking you could say that planning and forward thinking are things that meetings organisers could learn from the film industry. During a film shoot each scene has to have alternative scenes in case something happens. As a scenographer my task is to arrange filming areas until the film crew arrive, but I must also have alternative environments just in case. An actor could become ill, it could start raining, etcetera. We can’t postpone the work so must be able to quickly move to another filming area. That has to be prepared and suit the actors who are available. I must have

a Plan B and a Plan C, and sometimes even a Plan D.” One question that many ask themselves is why people either won’t or can’t use the knowledge that exists about the brain in a business sense. Jan Öqvist feels that it is due to us having abandoned our faith in our senses because they are so easily manipulated. “No other industry has had a greater penetration than the experience industry. It’s been refined and rationalised beyond comparison. This approach to the world around us permeates all social processes. A long-term perspective is seldom part of the plan. We’re being constantly reminded that we’re prone to change, that we’re more or less expected to act against our better judgement. As recipients we’re reduced to objects to be stimulated by that which is uncomplicated and ever-changeable, not the essentials. We’re expected to be consumers. We’ve allowed technology and technological solutions to be our main instrument for understanding the world around us. But technology gives us a false sense of security because it rationalises and reduces thinking and experiences to measurable units. The hard technological and economical values set the norm, not the long-term human 2011 No. 07 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


80 | ECOSOPHY

“If we fail to see the opportunities we just become part of the problem.”

ecological perspective we need in order to assess a meeting place. Our need for a rational explanation does not exclude our need for a spiritual dimension to our existence.” Here the choice of a meeting place is of crucial significance, says Jan Öqvist. It reflects what the organiser regards as being pivotal for success. “It’s gratifying to see increasingly more organisers trying to environmentally certify their venues and activities.” He points out that ecology is not a benchmark in itself but a descriptive science that is not concerned with the rights and wrongs. “The mercury content in fish is ecology.” He speaks of the ever-increasing need for ecosophy, where actions bear witness to a person’s or organisation’s wisdom, or lack of such. “Ecosophy is a life science that focuses on our ever-changing and, to a great extent, life-destroying lifestyle. Ecosophy is not a done and dusted philosophical system, but an approach that is constantly being refined the whole time to bring to light the brittle connection between us people and our surrounding world.” What approach does Jan Öqvist think that a meetings organiser should take? MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 07 2011

“For a meeting to be considered sustainable in a long-term ecological perspective some basic prerequisites must be taken into account and precise goals must be achieved. These goals must be fulfilled within many areas and at different times if they are to interact throughout the course of the meeting. A meeting has a venue, an activity, a great many actors, a process and a desired outcome. An organiser often has a blinkered approach to ensure that the event can be implemented effectively and within a preset budget. That the meeting is logistically implementable and resource needs are covered. These are the primary tasks, but from there to realising the necessity of putting demands on ecologically defendable criteria is something completely different. Such demands are seen as an extra cost.” “The starting point for understanding this is in realising that everything is related. This makes the meeting planner responsible for the overall effect. This may sound like mission impossible, but it’s the sum of our collective efforts and the understanding and respect we show in our actions that sets the course for what is sustainable. If we fail to see the opportunities we just become part of the problem.”


JAN ÖQVIST | 81

2011 No. 07 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


82 | ROGER KELLERMAN

Roger Kellerman is a publisher, business intelligence analyst, trend creator, educator and networker. He has more than 25 years’ experience of the global meeting industry. twitter.com/thekellerman

Thinking Is Good BUT DOING IS BETTER” This quote comes from Ji Lee,

creative director at Google’s publicity department. I came across it in a column by Jan Gradvall, one of my favourite journalists, in the Friday supplement of Sweden’s leading business magazine Dagens Industri. Naturally, the words went straight into my meetings industry brain. Ideas alone mean nothing. Implementation is everything. Gradvall also writes: “Finding people who are good at hitting upon ideas is not particularly difficult, but there aren’t many people with the patience and discipline to ensure that the end product keeps all the promises of the original idea.” A good employee is one who does more than just the simple and fun things, and a company that does what it ought to be doing consistently rather than just what it has always done is a sign of moral authority. A company with insight spends its time doing that which is right. The golden rule in any successful company is not only to think but do. Discipline helps us to grapple with the things we know we should be doing but which few of us feel like doing. Successful people do not necessarily like doing these things either, but their determination takes precedence over their dislike. MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 07 2011

Talent is important, but singleminded discipline is the most crucial part of any success story. This rings true whether it be a successful footballer or a successful company. Therefore, in the race between a company with talented employees and a company with tenacious employees, the latter always crosses the finishing line first. An American survey has also shown a strong link between achieved results and the number of training hours and years of experience. Remember Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour Rule. Talent and passion are crucial elements in success, but without discipline nothing happens. It’s about delivering the whole time and that’s why discipline is so important. Right now I’m mulling over the following: why do the Rezidor Hotel Group understand the meetings industry better than other hotel chains? Why do they put meetings delegates before other guests? Why do they continue resolutely on this well-worn path? What do they know that others don’t? Why do they do what others only think? When will their competitors realise the advantage that Rezidor has over them? How will their competitors then react? Continue to just think, or will they do something?


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Profile for Meetings International

Meetings International #07, May 2011 (English)  

Meetings International #07, May 2011 (English)