No. 16 Nov 2015 €19 / 165 SEK
BARBARA JAMISON London & Partners Longterm relationships are the key
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SHARE CREATE A PLAYFUL ATMOSPHERE DIVERSITY KELLERMAN
Unforgettable you can leave the islands, but never forget them
No. 1 in Scandinavia Stockholmsmässan is Scandinavia’s largest exhibition and congress center. A unique range of skills and strong owners – the City of Stockholm and Stockholm’s Chamber of Commerce – make us an inspiring and reliable host for your event. Our attractive meeting rooms are the perfect choice for any meeting, from informal get-togethers to major international congresses.
Love to meet you! Congresses & Guest Events firstname.lastname@example.org +46 8 749 41 00 stockholmsmassan.se
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Meet in Malmö – only 20 minutes away from Copenhagen Airport
Malmö has the expertise, resources and creative possibilities needed for successful meetings, whatever their size and subject. Two international airports within 30 minutes, state of the art meeting venues, numerous hotels and a compact, attractive urban environment. The Swedish-Danish knowledge region surrounding the Oresund strait offers great opportunities for technical visits as well as inspiring speakers. And with Copenhagen located right on the other side of the Oresund bridge, there’s a unique chance to experience two countries in a single visit! Contact Malmö Convention Bureau for free advice: +46 40 34 22 42 - email@example.com or pay a visit to eventinskane.com - firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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Activate your audience
with an unforgettable experience Every year, we inspire over 1.3 million attendees through creative meetings, events, congresses and incentives.
If youâ€™d like your next event to drive lasting results, visit www.mci-group.com for more information
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Enhance your MICE experience with unique Singapore events and festivals
ingapore provides a conducive platform for MICE partners to achieve success, through a dynamic environment underpinned by vibrant knowledge and thought leadership, wide networks, ease of conducting business and a sense of fun. Enhance your delegates’experience by colocating your business event with some of Singapore’s most unique lifestyle and cultural events and festivals.
Get your delegates’ adrenalin fix Playing host to many global sporting events, Singapore is the ideal destination for you to spice up your delegates’ schedules with notable events including the Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix and the BNP Paribas Women’s Tennis Association Finals Singapore.
Satisfy your delegates’ palette Give your guests an unforgettable culinary experience at the annual World Gourmet Summit, a globally renowned event where participants can enjoy exclusive dinners, cooking workshops and sessions with distinguished chefs. Or let your delegates indulge in the best of local food and immerse themselves in unique authentic culinary experiences at the Singapore Food Festival.
Let your delegates soak in the festive spirit As Asia’s cosmopolitan hub, your delegates can take in a wide range of multi-racial cultural Singapore experiences, such as the night lights of Christmas on a Great Street, the red lanterns of Chinese New Year, Asia’s largest street performance and float parade Chingay and the dazzling colours at Little India for Deepavali.
Support schemes available The Business Events in Singapore (BEiS) scheme is a support scheme that encourages anchoring and growth of quality events. It has been enhanced this year to further augment possibilities for event planners and make the Singapore MICE experience an unforgettable one. Funding support that amounts to percentage of qualifying costs which includes related third-party professional services, content development, marketing and bidding activities. This was recently enhanced to further augment possibilities. Customised support like facilitation in securing venues, introduction to partners, marketing and publicity. For further reading, visit yoursingapore.com/mice
Ireland Taking care of you
reland’s only international-standard convention centre, The Convention Centre Dublin (The CCD), has a solid reputation for exceptional events and outstanding customer service. The venue is celebrating five years of business this year, and since opening in September 2010, has hosted over 1,150 events and 1.4 million delegate days. The experienced and dedicated team at The CCD work relentlessly to offer conference and event organisers, as well as conference delegates, an unrivalled event experience. The venue maintains a customer satisfaction rate of over 95 % and prides itself on high levels of professionalism coupled with a sense of Irish warmth and hospitality. It’s not surprising that The CCD receives excellent feedback from its clients, particularly about its award-winning team. It was fantastic working with such a professional, dedicated, hard-working team who understood our event and what we were trying to achieve. Nicki Bird, Conference and Events Manager, Corporate Rewards – NetApp Insight
It was such a nice event and experience working with you and your team. From my experience with EPP congresses, it was the best organised congress and the venue staff was wonderful and responsive to all our needs. Bernada Cunj, Martens Centre Administrator, Martens Centre – European People’s Party (EPP) Elections Congress
This is the best convention centre I have ever worked in. The staff were so well prepared and had such a great handle on things.
UK C&IT Award for ‘Best Overseas Conference Venue’ for the second time, and three UK Meetings Industry Marketing Awards (MIMA). To date, the venue has won 31 industry awards, which it credits to its wonderful team. Whether your event is for 50 delegates or 5,000, The CCD is perfectly designed to suit all, with halls for exhibitions, a 2,000 seat auditorium for plenary sessions, and banqueting facilities for up to 3,000 guests. In addition, four boardrooms and 11 meeting rooms are available for intimate meetings and breakout sessions, while six foyer spaces flood the venue with natural light and offer the perfect setting for registration and hospitality. Ireland is easily accessible for delegates who can avail of direct flights to the UK, Europe, the US and the Middle East with 57 airlines and 175 routes. The CCD’s central location, just 20 minutes from Dublin Airport and in the heart of the city centre, gives conference organisers the choice of over 20,000 competitively priced hotel rooms within a 10km radius. Many other amenities, including Dublin’s many museums, galleries and tourist attractions are also within close proximity. The CCD continues to see huge interest in what it has to offer as a European conference venue and in the last six months alone, has confirmed a host of high-profile conferences up until 2019. These include ICANN 54 which will take place in October this year, the Social Media and Critical Care Conference (SMACC) 2016, DrupalCon 2016, the 7th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights (WCFLCR) 2017, the European Society of Gastrointestinal and Abdominal Radiology (ESGAR) 2018, the International Association for Plant Biotechnology Congress (IAPB) 2018 and the 20th Congress of the International Union for Quaternary Science (INQUA) 2019.
Cathy Ryan, Senior Director, International Meetings, HIMSS – eHealth Week
So far this year, The CCD has won the UK M&IT Award for ‘Best Overseas Conference Venue’ for the fourth time in a row, the ADVERTORIAL
If you’re looking for a unique and inspirational venue for your next business event, visit www.theccd.ie, email email@example.com or call +353 1 856 0000.
Inviting you to connect Oman offers immense intellectual capital and has a growing reputation for innovation and entrepreneurship and strong government support. Strategically located at the entrance to the Gulf and at the centre of East-West trade routes, Oman provides a welcoming haven and easy access for those potential international association membership markets in the Arabian Gulf, India, South East Asia, Africa and Europe. Book your next conference at the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre and guarantee your success - email us now firstname.lastname@example.org
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Oman An Intellectual Capital
nspired by the unique natural beauty of its surroundings and celebrating Oman’s heritage and history, the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre (OCEC), a symbol of national pride, is only a short time away from capturing the word’s attention, placing the Sultanate of Oman, the gem of Arabia, in the global spotlight as one of the world’s emerging ‘destination of choice’ for conventions, conferences and exhibitions. Oman is a fast-growing nation with a robust economy powered by a thriving business community and a flourishing culture of entrepreneurship that benefits from strong government support and encouragement. Sectors driving Oman’s economic growth include, oil and gas; transport and logistics; manufacturing and food processing; health; education; technology and telecommunications; agriculture and fisheries; and tourism. Together with the nation’s burgeoning reputation for academic excellence and leadership in research and innovation, its success-focused business spirit and future-forward approach to knowledge transfer underpin Oman’s intellectual capital and create an outstanding and inspirational meetings environment presenting a myriad of opportunities. A land of immense charm, rich heritage and vibrant authentic culture, Oman is complemented by its greatest asset, its people. They are ambitious, talented, multi-lingual, proud of
their nation and its achievements, and eager to play their part in the nation’s progress. Many are enthusiastic members of professional international associations, keen to connect with their regional and international peers in order to exchange knowledge and showcase Oman’s research and development in their respective fields. The OCEC will champion Oman’s business event development programme and boost investment in infrastructure and research among other key sectors. With the opening of Phase One in 2016, which will concentrate on exhibitions, banqueting functions, live events, corporate and government meetings, the Centre will attract thousands of visitors in its first year of operation. Phase Two, the Convention Centre, will be ready for business in 2017 to offer over 55 meeting space options including a tiered, lyric-style 3,200 seat auditorium, another theatre that seats 450, 13 well-appointed meeting rooms, a VIP Pavilion and a Grand and Junior Ballroom, which seat 1,360 and 600 in banquet-style, respectively. Going to IBTM World 2015 in Barcelona? Visit the Press Conference Room on Wednesday 18th October at 13.45, visit us at stand K50 or go to www.omanconvention.com.
Meet Berlin at IBTM World in Barcelona
lways new, always Berlin: Visit the German capital at IBTM World from 17 to 19 November, booth F50-29, and learn all about city’s qualities as a congress destination including a modern hotel landscape and good value for money. Berlin is the right selection for anyone who does not want to make any compromises. Read more about Berlin at convention.visitBerlin.com.
Berlin’s modern hotel landscape Whether luxurious or inexpensive, Berlin offers its guests a wide selection of suitable hotels for any occasion. The German capital’s diverse hotel landscape features more than 600 establishments offering excellent service and good value for money. And the number of new hotels in Berlin continues to increase. For example, since March the Titanic Gendarmenmarkt Berlin is welcoming its guests. The new hotel is located in what was once the costume and props storage building of the Deutsche Staatsoper on Französische Straße next to the Gendarmenmarkt. Beside 208 five-star category rooms the Titanic Gendarmenmarkt Berlin also features a grand ballroom and a 100 m² conference area equipped with the latest technology. titanic.com The Amano Group is also continuing to invest in Berlin. Its largest hotel yet, the Amano Grand Central, opened in summer 2015 directly opposite Berlin’s Main Rail Station. The hotel offers 250 exclusive rooms as well as a modern conference centre. Highlights include a health club overlooking the government district, a rooftop terrace and the sky bar “The Apartment”. amanogroup.de ADVERTORIAL
Since September guests can enjoy one of the 357 exclusive rooms of the Riu Plaza Hotel. Located near Kurfürstendamm, Berlins well known shopping street, the Spanish hotel offers also six conference rooms for up to 840 participants. riu.com
Hotel openings in 2016 and beyond The Aygün hotel group is planning a second Titanic hotel for Berlin. At the beginning of 2016, the Titanic Business Berlin hotel on Chausseestraße in the northern part of the Mitte district will be opened. 389 rooms and suites with modern furnishings will ensure a luxurious ambience. A 1,800 m² ballroom and 15 meeting rooms with the latest conference technology will also be featured by this new convention hotel. Another Amano Group hotel is scheduled to open at the end of 2016: Amano Friedrichstraße, just a few minutes’ walk from the exclusive shops of Friedrichstraße. The 3-star hotel will offer guests 110 rooms and a modern hotel bar with an extensive cocktail menu. The Hotel Estrel, currently offering 1,125 rooms, will be adding 814 more rooms as construction of the 45-storey Estrel Tower is completed. The tower will stand 175 meters tall, about two and a half times higher than the current Estrel Hotel, and will thus become the tallest high-rise hotel in Germany. The hotel tower is scheduled to open in 2018. estrel.com
© visitBerlin/Wolfgang Scholvien
Berlin – Capital in Step with the Times
Meeting planners are the real stars in Berlin. We know all there is to know about arranging meetings.
Visit us at ibtm world, booth F50-29
Do you need to arrange a meeting, convention or any other type of event at short notice? If so, the Berlin Convention Office is on hand 24/7 to give you all the support you need. We work closely with local partners across the city and can quickly provide you with relevant advice, help and information. With the Berlin Convention Office, you can rest assured that your event is in good hands. convention.visitBerlin.com Member of
Our partners at ibtm world: andel´s Hotel Berlin visitBerlin Berlin Convention Office Conference & Touring C&T GmbH CPO HANSER SERVICE GmbH Sofitel Berlin Kurfürstendamm
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Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz Tempelhof Projekt GmbH Titanic Hotels Berlin Estrel Hotel Radisson Blu Hotel Berlin
photo Virgile Simon Bertrand
Fall in Love with Seoul
eoul has long had a reputation for being a one of the most competitive destinations in Asia’s MICE industry, and its a reputation hard earned. In just a matter of decades the city grew from its war-torn roots into an expansive, high-tech metropolis. With an extensive track record of quality business events and a booming MICE industry, there is no better time to visit Seoul than during it’s peak autumn season.
Active Autumn Meeting Sessions Even in the aftermath of a summer slump due to fears over the spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the city’s MICE industry has managed to bounce back with vengeance to kick off the fall. Coex, Seoul’s premiere convention and exhibition center, alone will see over 8,800 visitors from just three major conventions happening over the fall. Supporting Coex’s reputation as a venue for prestigious medical conventions, the 16th International College of Prosthodontists Scientific Conference and the World Allergy Congress together brought in 5,800 medical experts from over 100 countries. Another 5,500 guests from 120 countries will flood the centre during October and November for the PIARC World Road Congress, the 24th International Conference on Magnet Technology, and the International Conference on Food Factors, proving that Coex is a centre built for meetings for all industries. The autumn season also means Coex is preparing for the launch of KOSIGN and Food Week, two of its biggest, UFI approved international events, expecting to draw more than 60,000 visitors.
A Season of Colour and Culture In addition to a bustling time for business deals, its truly one of the most scenic times to visit Korea. Seoul enjoys mild temperatures and colourful landscapes during the fall. Located at the heart of the city in the Gingham district,
many of Seoul’s scenic hotspots are easily accessible via the two train stations or inexpensive taxis near the exhibition center. The burgundy foliage that covers Namsan mountain, for example, is only a short ride away. From the observatory guests can get a 360 degree view of the autumn leaves that envelope one of the biggest cities in the world. For visitors with more of an interest in the latest trends, a walk down the renowned Ginko treelined Garosugil street in the Sinsa district offers a perfect mesh of trendy fashion and nature. Closer to home, Boeung Temple across from Coex’s third floor auditorium offers stunning fall scenery as a backdrop for social coffee breaks, or a quiet sanctuary for guests looking to get closer to Korean history.
A Time For Celebration This autumn also marks a time for celebration as the Coex MICE Cluster celebrates its first official fall season. The Coex Mice Cluster consists of 13 partner companies including the Coex conventions and Exhibition Center, Grand Intercontinental Parnas and Coex Intercontinental Hotels, Oakwood residence, 7 Luck Casino, Coex Aquarium, Megabit Cinema, Lotte Duty Free, SM Town, Coex Mall, Trade Tower and ASEM Tower, City Airport Terminal, Our Home Catering, and the Hyundai Department Store. The MICE Cluster kicked off the autumn season with the opening of the new Bongeunsa express subway station that is now connected to the Coex Mall making it easier than ever to visit the autumn tourist sites of Seoul and its surrounding provinces.
Connect with Business, Explore Culture Whether a convention, team building event, or world class exhibition, Coex goes above and beyond to ensure an unforgettable event experience. Ask Coex how we can make your autumn event a memorable one. To learn more, visit www.coex.co.kr/eng ADVERTORIAL
LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE EDITOR IN CHIEF Atti Soenarso
Nov 2015 Freedom of Expression
Freedom of Expression Atti Soenarso: The foundation of all other liberties.
PUBLISHER Roger Kellerman
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Barbara Jamison, London & Partners On London’s remarkable success.
40 PSYCHOLOGICAL MEETINGS
Imagine If …
Hans Gordon: Sometimes it’s good to have a rethink.
Atti Soenarso, Henrik von Arnold PHOTOGRAPHERS Sara Appelgren, Mikkel Grabowski, Kerstin Holm, Magnus Malmberg, Emil Malmborg, Chris Maluszynski TRANSL ATION Dennis Brice, Bryan Ralph EDITOR Pravasan Pillay ART DIRECTOR kellermandesign.com EDITORIAL RAYS OF SUNSHINE Bimo’s cello ensemble +
Diversity + London Tech Week + Max Martin + Freedom of speech + John Travener SUBSCRIPTION Four
The Well-Balanced Person Annette Lefterow: Balance is the key to life.
Marutaro – the smiling dog from Japan. 48 PILOT STUDY
Morten Friis-Olsen Why don’t destinations target meetings delegates?
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Big Lesson I Learned on a Plane
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22 | INTRO
Freedom OF EXPRESSION Freedom of expression is one of the cornerstones of a democratic society, yet this freedom is being curtailed in an alarming number of nations. British author, Ian McEwan, reminds us that every liberty we own or struggle for has first been considered, debated and written about, which is why freedom of expression is the foundation upon which all other liberties rest. A journal’s greatest merit is that it makes it possible to view a story from many different angles, hence reducing the risk of biased opinions being formed about, for example, speakers before they even speak. Those crucial seconds that pass before we become aware of who is speaking could be decisive in forming a biased opinion. German author and anti-Nazi, Victor Klemperer, said the following in a speech on freedom of expression: “Words can be like small doses of arsenic. They are swallowed unnoticed and seem to be having no effect until the poison eventually goes to work.” Journals come in many shapes and forms. A journal may well be a tribute to words, thoughts, perspectives, ideas. And there are editorial offices
that do what they have always done. With words – and terms – change with the times, they just have to be aware of how. Words are not meant to stand in the way of exchanges, but facilitate them. A small shift in the meaning of a word is enough. If words are used carelessly they risk becoming undermined. Another author, Hungarian Péter Esterházy, said in his opening speech at the recent Sweden Book Fair in Gothenburg something along the lines of: “Art is not a solution to anything. No novel has ever stopped something bad from happening. But the good books, those usually spoken about here, in these circles, are suffused in the desire to teach understanding. We could also call it hope.” The famous words usually attributed to Voltaire should never be forgotten: “I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.” It is seldom appropriate to try to silence those you disagree with.
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. photo Magnus Malmberg
MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 16 2015
congressfrankfurt Location. Service. Experience.
Meet us at ibtm world German Pavilion
No matter what your plans are. We offer you the right place for growth and success â€“ with capacities that can be combined and are therefore incomparably flexible. Centrally located, at the perfect site. Welcome to the locations of Messe Frankfurt! www.congressfrankfurt.de
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JA M I S O N TEXT
Atti Soenarso Bryan Ralph PHOTOS
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East London Tech City (also known as Tech City or Silicon Roundabout) is a technology cluster located in Central and East London. It broadly occupies the part of London’s East End between Old Street (the boundary of Central and East London) and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, with its locus in the Shoreditch area. It is the third-largest technology startup cluster in the world after San Francisco and New York City. London’s life sciences community is a recognized world leader in R&D; second only to Boston globally. London has three out of the top 10 universities in the world and it is these centers of excellence that form three out of the five Academic Health Science Centers in the UK – internationally peer-reviewed centers of partnership between academia and healthcare providers focusing on research, clinical services, education and training that provide fertile ground for new therapies, technologies and talent. The British government is moving ahead with plans to position its
capital city as the “health-tech capital of Europe.” Med City is intended to be a “sister organization” to Tech City, the UK government’s scheme to nurture homegrown tech companies. Med City will reinforce the incredible momentum of London as one of the world’s most vibrant and dynamic cities and how the UK’s innovative ‘Patent Box’, which offers significantly reduced corporation tax rate for income generated from patents, provides unparalleled opportunities. The UK is set to capitalize on the growth in education technology (Edtech) through a new strategic body to promote the sector, Edtech UK. 2015 No. 16 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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“ Delegates will not sit theatre-style in a plain conference room with a screen in the way they used too”
According to a new report by London & Partners and Edtech UK, the global education technology sector is worth £45bn in 2015 and poised to reach £129bn by 2020. London is uniquely placed to take advantage of the Edtech opportunity, with the recent Times Higher Education World University 2015 rankings revealing that London has more world class universities than any other city in the world (four out of the top 30). The capital is also home to established Edtech companies such as Pearson, Knewton and Kaplan. “Just looking at London Tech Week, we had 200 events this year and are expecting that to be 500 events by 2016. And the goal is that London Tech Week will become the SXSW for consumers in the tech market in the years to come. SXSW is the yearly Austin/Texas, world famous film and music festival,” says Barbara Jamison, Head of Business Development Europe, London & Partners, the official convention bureau of London. “At the same time, looking back at 2012 and the Olympic Games, which was a huge success in all aspects, there are no leftover ‘white elephants’, but purely prime locations for future developments in London, MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 16 2015
opening possibilities for the meetings and events industry. Barbara Jamison says this gives London a higher ROI on the events coming to the city, and explains: “I am responsible for the European Market, which by its very nature is governed by national trends, economy, requirements, levels of compliancy, the bribery act etc. Gone are the days when a CB can organize a road show throughout Europe and expect high-level decision-makers to attend and meet with your partners. “It has become almost like the Crystal Maze for certain destinations to reach the real decision-maker or team, as so many more people work remotely, on a contract or freelance basis or co-share projects with a range of other companies. The importance of long-term relationships is key to being able to get through the door, as the clients are inundated with requests from every hotel, venue, destination and DMC in the world who is after their business. “This is why I feel it’s so important for our partners to collaborate with a CB, as we deliver more impact as a team. Many of my CB colleagues around the world who operate a public/private partnership module
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“ Relationship marketing is vital to our sector”
identify with the need for a partner to really work the partnership and not just expect an immediate delivery. “I do see great examples of partners who embrace the changing face of business events especially in the tech sector where amazing high-tech multi-sensory activity, co-creation, remote audience interaction is the norm, but live communication is now merging into the meeting and event space no matter what the sector is. Delegates will not sit theatre-style in a plain conference room with a screen in the way they used too. They will listen, but at the same time have 1, 2 or even 3 or more screens open on their own mobile at the same time and that is why we are now looking at a meeting experience that needs to engage and connect with the audience. Concerns about front or back projection or whether free Wi-Fi is available have moved onto: campfire storytelling; proprioception activation; kinaesthetic recognition, layering of several senses; absurdity and playfulness, not to mention holograms! “I really see the need for venues and agencies to be far more in tune with their corporate clients and to become mapping experts to really understand the company structure,
culture and how a business event adds true ROI. Working together in partnership with a Convention Bureau like L&P also helps the agency to look at the legacy of an event and understand the job creation and investment that event has achieved. “A 360-degree approach and collaboration between client, agency and destination is the winning ticket for the future. You need to have a secure and long-term relationship with someone to want to help them achieve success as much as they want to, and to also be able to tell them when they have the wrong approach to something or a particular idea or location will not work. “Relationship marketing is vital to our sector as people move around and a strong long-term relationship enables you to cut through to the right decision-maker no matter which company they are working for.” Why are the different clusters so important for the development of London?
“London is a popular destination in which to meet and do business across a range of sectors from financial services to creative industries, and tech and life sciences. In particular, tech and life sciences are growth 2015 No. 16 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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“Tech and life sciences are growth sectors for London”
sectors for London and last year we launched both Tech City Greater London and the ‘Golden Triangle’ of Med City to underline the wealth of expertise and entrepreneurial spirit within both of these sectors across the capital. “Every major bank and financial institution in the world has a presence in London and financial services have always been a hugely important part of the city’s economy. We have here the world’s largest foreign exchange market and the London Stock Exchange is also the leading international exchange with more than 600 global listings. “In recent years London has cemented its position as the most important tech hub in Europe and the sector is fuelling the future growth of London’s economy. The city’s digital technology sector is expanding faster than both the London and wider UK economy and will continue to do so for the next decade, according to research from London & Partners produced by Oxford Economics. In fact over the next decade, London’s digital tech sector is expected to increase at a rate of five percent per year, creating an additional £11 billion of economic activity. MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 16 2015
“London also offers one of the world’s most innovative and collaborative life sciences sectors. More research papers are generated here than in any other city in the world after Boston. Together with Oxford and Cambridge, we form a ‘Golden Triangle’ of scientific innovation and by championing and developing this expertise, we can deliver a positive impact on our economy and the future expansion of London. “Finally, London is the world’s creative capital. The city gives businesses access to some of world’s best practitioners in the worlds of advertising, design, fashion, architecture, video games, music, the performing arts, publishing, film, television and radio. Importantly, for events professionals the city is among the world’s top three media centres, making it easier to promote your event on the global stage. “This sectoral expertise is of great importance to the city’s future growth and development, both in attracting future foreign investment and helping support the advancement of both start-ups and more established companies in London. “Furthermore, we often see events enjoy a delegate uplift in London due
to the interest and engagement from London-based companies in each sector. Global delegates also find London attractive, as it’s easy to access the city through our five international airports and the Eurostar, while delegates often combine the main event with additional business meetings in the city. “London & Partners is perfectly placed to take advantage of this sectoral expertise because our CB team is so closely aligned with our foreign direct investment colleagues. There are many different types of convention bureaus around the world, but at London & Partners we have benefitted hugely from bringing together the promotion of London’s business and tourism offers into one organization. We closely align our business tourism strategy with that of the foreign direct investment team. This means we are now perfectly placed to co-create events such as London Technology Week, which we launched in 2014. The second annual event took place in June this year and was hailed as a huge success by leading technology entrepreneurs. “London Technology Week has exceeded all expectations and provided us with the opportunity to
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“London Technology Week has exceeded all expectations”
fly the flag for a tech sector that is rapidly becoming a world leader and providing billions of pounds of investment and thousands of new jobs for London. We want to see the sector continue to thrive and the hundreds of events that take place during LTW have helped London position itself as a leader of the global tech scene.” How does London & Partners work with London Tech City?
“Tech City is the leading tech cluster in London and the UK, and it receives substantial support from London & Partners and Tech City UK, as well as from other stakeholders such as the UK government, the Greater London Authority and the Mayor of London, and UKTI. It will continue to do so in the future. “From 1 April 2014, London & Partners has lead on inward investment into, and overseas promotion of, London’s tech economy, including Silicon Roundabout. Since this time, Tech City UK has acted to meet the needs of digital and tech entrepreneurs and companies across the UK, including those in the Tech City cluster, and it acts as a bridge for the UK tech community to central government.
“Tech City UK and London & Partners continue to collaborate together and with other stakeholders in order to encourage companies and investors to establish their businesses in London and to promote London’s tech offering to the world.” What are the results?
“Since the UK government identified the area around Old Street roundabout as Tech City in 2010, London has become truly world-class in tech, thanks to the companies, entrepreneurs and engineering wizards that have made the city’s scene the most exciting in Europe. “London’s tech sector now employs almost 200,000 people, more than 3 percent of the entire London workforce and is home to around 40,000 tech businesses. That number is forecast to grow to more than 51,000 by 2025 – representing a 92 percent increase since the launch of the Tech City initiative in 2010. The sector is expected to generate £18 billion for the London economy in 2015. “We expect the sector to continue to create brilliant new ideas and companies and attract investment from all over the world. We also expect that some of London’s start-ups will grow
into companies that compete on the international stage.” The Olympics changed perceptions of London. What were the factors involved?
“Hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games gave London a massive boost on the world stage. It gave millions of people around the world the opportunity to look again at London and see the city in a new light. The Olympics also underlined that London is a friendly, safe and open city. “The industry legacy was that event organizers and creative agencies were able to experience how easy and accessible London is. They also saw beyond London as a city just for business meetings and increasingly began to also see it as an incentive destination. There was also huge investment in the construction of brand new state-of-the-art venues, hotels and unique locations, which all benefit the events world. What’s more, the Olympics showcased the diversity of London and we see time and time again that delegates feel comfortable in a city that speaks over 300 languages and are keen to take
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“It gave millions of people around the world the opportunity to look again at London”
advantage of hotel offers for business extenders. “A trend for many host cities is a decline in visitor numbers postGames, but London has bucked this trend with record numbers of international visitors flocking to the city. Last year London welcomed more international visitors than ever before, with the city’s cultural attractions and world class sporting events proving irresistible draws for millions, according to the Office for National Statistics International Passenger Survey (IPS). There were 17.4 million international visits to the city in 2014, up 3.5 percent from the previous record of 16.8 million visits in 2013.” Direct investment from abroad is boosting the London economy. Why is investment flooding into the capital?
“Foreign direct investment helps drive the growth of the London economy, creating jobs across the tech, financial and business services and the life science industries, amongst others. “London & Partners is the Mayor of London’s inward investment company, as well as the official convention MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 16 2015
bureau for the city. We help international companies set up and expand in the capital to deliver jobs and growth for the city. Our expert team offers free advice to potential investors, from start-ups to established companies, to help them explore how London can play a role in their global business. “Over the last decade foreign investment in London has soared and the tech sector is now leading the way. Companies from all over the globe want to establish a base here because we have the best access to finance and markets, an incredibly talented workforce and first-class conditions in which to do business.” How has the perception of London changed over the last three years?
“London is regularly recognized as a world-class destination for meetings, events and incentive travel and we are delighted that the city’s events industry has been named the leading European city for meetings and events by American Express for the last three years, underlining the city’s attractiveness for meeting planners. “More recently, London was named the number one meeting destination in Europe by Cvent.
Increasingly over the last three years London’s sectoral expertise is being recognized by event planners as a key selling point for the destination. Our success in hosting events in life sciences, the creative industries and technology has been proven by recent events. These include the European Society of Cardiology’s congress held at London’s ExCeL, which saw record numbers of attendees, Advertising Week Europe that returned to the capital for the second year running, and another hugely successful London Technology Week. “In addition, London is increasingly being recognized as a dynamic and creative center for events. Our recent Love the Event & Love the Experience campaign underlined that while London can deliver the rational side of events, it is also offers unrivalled experiences and world-leading event innovation. At IBTM World we will showcase our senses gallery on our stand, along with exciting sensory activation, underlining London’s capability for delivering immersive, multi-sensory events, and ultimately business success.”
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“Like many people the meetings and events industry found me, rather than me consciously finding it”
Companies are using London as a springboard. What are the advantages of this strategy?
“London is the leading destination for companies looking to internationalize – bringing businesses closer to new and existing customers across the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. The city is a hub for European HQs – of the top 250 companies with global or regional headquarters in Europe, 40 percent are located in London. In addition, London is the chosen centre for 60 percent of the non-European top 250 companies that have their HQ in Europe. “London’s strengths include the city’s wide talent base and skilled, multilingual workers; access to markets, and a vast range of available property for companies to be based in. It is also an attractive and enjoyable city for workers to live in, with much to do and enjoy. “For European companies, being in London is essentially a springboard to the world as a whole and enables you to go global easily – while for companies from outside Europe, London is the logical place to come to access European markets and the continent’s talent base.
“The city is also a very well connected business city with five international airports, including Heathrow, and Eurostar offering exceptional connectivity to Europe and other locations globally. Finally, London sits in an enviable location at the crossroads of the European, Asian and US time zones.” How did you get involved in the meetings and events industry?
“I think like many people the meetings and events industry found me, rather than me consciously finding it. Thinking back, I have always liked organizing events, travelling, being a bit of a performer and feeling the excitement when everything comes together, creating that ‘wow’ factor or personal connection. “My very first big event was when I was at school and we brought Elton John, a former pupil back to put on a private concert. My love for travel started when I was a kid and I used to travel on the bus to nearby Heathrow Airport just to look at the planes taking off and imagine far away places so different from the London suburbs. My performing claim to fame was not letting Simon Le Bon, a fellow student, into our band … big mistake!
“I think I have grown up in the industry and would say that all my experiences have been invaluable for promoting my home city, which I love. “To see the perception of London change from a place where you only go for a financial meeting to Europe’s leading City for Technology is really rewarding. To be involved in the fast-moving and changing face of London and meet experts, London sector ambassadors, creators and young students with brilliant ideas is so exciting.”
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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. photo Sara Appelgren
image © iStock.com/mstroz/Mark Strozier
Imagine IF … One of Belgian artist René Magritte’s most celebrated works is his painting that depicts a pipe. Magritte’s short and sweet accompanying text reads: Ceci n´est pas une pipe (This is not a pipe). What the artist meant to convey with this is that a picture of a pipe is obviously not a pipe. That he even bothers to mention this has, of course, to do with the fact that we humans often, almost constantly, mix up experiences based on fiction with our perceptions of a more real reality. What is it that we actually hear, see, smell and sense? How do we perceive the staggering number of signals streaming to us on a 24/7 basis? This is not only a question for philosophy and psychology, but is open to all scientifically active and interested parties. And so it was for René Magritte, who partook in lively discussions on the subject with no less a personage than French philosopher Michel Foucault. Are the languages we speak and the texts we read the intermediary links between people on the one hand and an objective reality on the other? In which case, would it be right in assuming that linguistic processes, in the broad sense, are behind the mediation of
reality? Or do we just imagine that reality is what we linguistically describe and talk about? Is it possible at all to speak of a person’s excellent ability to perceive reality as it really is? Here we have a couple of issues that neatly bring together philosophy with modern sciences. We people do not only react to our experiences with ingrained attitudes and behavioural patterns. We are equally as creative. Or are we actually more creative than reactive to our surroundings? Our brain is obsessed with creating, not only during sleep when it activates peculiar dream sequences, a sort of intensive, inner film studio, but also during the day as we trudge our way through the endless streams of information in an attempt to find out a bit more about ourselves and the world we live in. These attempts are nearly always just attempts. We try things out, we formulate and reword, determine then revise, and everything goes at a blistering pace with most of it taking place on the unconscious level. And we are not even aware of what we are doing, well, not entirely in any case. This constant process of creating very often emanates from our frus2015 No. 16 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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trations, our feelings of dissatisfaction. That which we hear, see, taste and smell leads only to intermittent euphoric raptures. Most of it lodges as experiences that could best be described as second-rate sensations. And that is when the brain triggers its creative processes. Consequently, we form notions and ideas, mostly based on primitive images. Let me give an example. Within the scope of my
ogy (how we build our societies) and economics as a scientific discipline. Previously, when it was more acceptable to mention people from the Communist era, there were names like Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) and Karl Marx (1818–1883), followed by a long list of social philosophers, sociologists and natural scientists, all of whom attempted to explain the process of how we perceive and de-
“Sometimes it is good to have a rethink, view things from a different angle”
profession I sometimes let people express their opinions on assertions of a more existential nature. For example: There is in all probability some form of Higher Power to which can be attributed all life on earth. Responses please on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 means totally agree and 1 means strongly disagree. Most usually choose 3. When I ask what criteria they use for awarding a 3, they normally fiddle their thumbs and look uncomfortable. There could, of course, be something out there controlling our every move that we people cannot really comprehend. And what would that be I wonder. Well, I’m not really sure. Nobody is. But we should not exclude the possibility of there being some form of higher power. Do you mean God? Not a god exactly. I’m not a believer. But there could be something … That we people act in this manner has led to countless studies and papers on the subject, not only within psychology but also macrosociolMEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 16 2015
scribe what we regard as reality. One of the most renowned German sociologists, Georg Simmel (1858–1918), studied how we interact with each other at meetings. He claimed that all interaction takes place in a process in which the participants constantly form notions about each other and act according to these notions. These notions are, of course, not randomly constructed, but constructed in accordance with the purpose of the interaction. We thus construct, usually at lightning speed and unconsciously, a sort of theatrical stage on which we take on roles and act out a play with each other that would put professional drama productions to shame. A modern variety of such a play would contain ideas, or notions if we so wish, that we, each and every one of us, have a core ‘me’, which in everyday language is described as ‘who I am’. You should ‘be yourself’ as the ‘person you are’. And the ‘person you are’ could be just about anything; a strong man in a weak female body (or vice versa), some type of animal
(felines are not unusual), and articles of clothing or possibly just a ‘normal, simple human being’. Expressions such as these are based on a widespread interest in our time to separate and identify people as detachable and therefore recognisable entities. We live in the era of the individual, where more value is placed on the individual than the group, organisation or the collective, that is to say society in general. Even that belongs to our notion areas, the origin of which can be found in the politics that strive to protect our rights as individuals rather than as part of a much larger system that embraces family, workplace, a community, etcetera. Politics takes on the shape of a dramatized and often well-directed play, offering lively and attractive notions that entice views, but which could entail a risky voyage with many sharp rocks hidden under the surface. Exciting! Imagine if the modern people of the Homo sapiens species had coexisted with the Homo neanderthalensis and the Denisova (two other, quite distinct human species)? Imagine if Homo sapiens had never created and developed the ancient soldier oath to be God-fearing and die for King and Fosterland. Imagine if Homo sapiens had created completely different social structures than those we have today. Imagine if … Sometimes it is good to have a rethink, view things from a different angle. As you are equipped with that ability, imagine if …
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LEFTEROW | 45
Annette Lefterow is a leading global wellness expert with over 30 years’ experience. She is a pioneer within wellness management and wellness economy, develops winning health and training concepts and runs a digital health platform within corporate wellness. She is also a lecturer, writer, consultant and a health entrepreneur. photo Sara Appelgren
The Well-Balanced PERSON Everything is about balance in the here and now. Balance has become a trendy word. Lifestyle and health are described from the basis of being or not being in balance. But is being in balance that important? What is it that measures if we are out of balance and in relation to which weight? I recently published my latest book on wellness with the subheading: Achieving life balance. By this I don’t mean a constant state of balance but the ability to be balanced in the here and now. Life is a roller coaster and the only thing that’s constant is constant change. The body handles a certain amount of energy every day. Sometimes we consume more energy than we have and put our inner balance sheet in the red. We have to balance and economise with our daily energy just as we need a diet that fuels our bodily functions that are constantly in use. Time is not all we have, but every single minute is an opportunity to remain balanced in body, mind and soul. Many plan and put aside time for health and fitness. Time to train and time to recover, which is key to maintaining our health and function. But we also need to build up the ability to remain balanced both when awake and when asleep. Taking slow, deep breaths releases tension and
relaxes the muscles. A relaxed body helps us to perform better during the day and to get more out of our sleep time, time normally spent tossing and turning in a state of anxiety over the tasks awaiting us the next day. For our days to be as fruitful as possible and our nights to give us as much recovery time as possible we need to be in a balanced state. You achieve this by starting in the here and now, activating conscious breathing, programming routines and exercises with a mental focus that works for you rather than against you. Wellness management is about inner leadership, the ability to lead yourself to a healthier state of mind, body and soul. To arouse the inner insights and listen to what your body is telling you about yourself. According to Ayurveda, every state of imbalance or disequilibrium has six different levels before it takes hold and breaks out in full force. A doctor of Ayurvedic medicine (Vaidya) can detect levels one to three. You can only perceive a feeling that something is not right within you when the disease reaches level four. At levels five and six you begin to feel ill and are affected by ill-health. A wide awake and sharpened presence that exudes peace and harmony gives us a better view of our inner self. We can send warning signals to ourselves
when it is time to wind down, recover, rest and press the stop button to our overachieving. Mental ill-health is on the increase in society but is also bringing with it a host of healthy lifestyle choices. Fitness training, well-being, yoga, mindfulness, diet and weight watching, health spas, vitamin pills and coaching are well-documented in the media. How do we explain the imbalance? Or the balance? The trick is to read the pulse of your health and function and to understand the importance of a balance between rest and activity, wakefulness and sleep, charging and recharging. The conclusion for me is that we should strive to be balanced people with the ability to dampen stress, build strength and optimise our mental, physical and social health through self-care, that is to say, by our own hand. Balance is the key to life. I would like to end with quote from Buddha. “Make sure you create the key to your life in order to open the door by your life, your well-being and happiness. The only way to happiness is happiness.” Or in my words: Be wise. Be nice. Be true. Be you.
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Smile Marutaro, a seven year old Shiba, has over two million followers on Instagram. In one post he shares the Japanese proverb:
photo © iStock.com/Pavel Hlystov
“Good fortune and happiness will come to homes of those who smile”
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A qualitative pilot study conducted by Morten Friis-Olsen, Strategic Director at Copenhagen-based Brand Experience Bureau Anew and former Head of Marketing at Wonderful Copenhagen Convention Bureau, showed that convention bureaus do not target international meetings delegates in their destination marketing. TEXT
photo Mikkel Alexander Grabowski
Kerstin Holm This is not ground-breaking news by any means, but Morten Friis-Olsen wanted to show the importance of attracting more delegates to international meetings. As an example he takes the humble AGM, pointing out how important it is for the members to meet. Or, as he puts it: “No delegate = no meeting. A few delegates = a poor meeting. Many delegates = a good meeting with a lot of speakers.” “I’ve always found it odd that meetings delegates, who make up such a large part of a meeting’s value chain, are not targeted more in a destination’s marketing, especially as research shows that the impression these people get of a destination is
Mikkel Grabowski key in their decision of whether or not to attend.” During his time at Wonderful Copenhagen Convention Bureau, Morten Friis-Olsen found that most CBs are slow and unwilling to change their approach, despite obvious progress being made in other parts of the world. When asked whether this non-targeting of meetings participants is as widespread in the global meetings and event industry, he replied: “I find the meetings industry reactive in many ways. People seem unwilling to go against the norm, that is to say their way of thinking. For me this becomes abundantly clear when I question convention bureau staff on 2015 No. 16 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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the issue. Most know that change is imminent, but none appear to have a strategy to prepare them for when it comes.” The study asked who convention bureaus see as the target audience of their marketing communication. Morten Friis-Olsen says that not one CB saw meetings delegates as their target audience. “International associations and
destination marketing to the meeting organiser. “This means that the CBs surrender one of their core competences to the organiser, who then has to go it alone in attracting as many delegates as possible. I can, however, agree that from the international organisation’s perspective, the scientific programme, the speakers, etcetera, must be given priority. The content
“The sharing economy will bring about a shift in purchases from products to experiences” organisations came first followed by meetings planners.” According to Morten Friis-Olsen, new research shows that the habits of international meetings delegates are also changing through new needs and new ideas. This concerns not only Millennials but meetings tourists as well. “The meetings delegate is a consumer of the product we call the meeting, the person who consumes the services and experiences on offer at destinations.” Also, in the new consumer economy people use social media to share positive and negative experiences alike. “As a convention bureau you can’t control the word of mouth flow, but you can at least try to influence it in order to create ambassadors. Why leave that to chance?” The study also warns of the consequences of ignoring meetings delegates as a target audience. Once an event has been won by a destination, the majority of CBs hand over their MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 16 2015
of the meeting is after all the most important aspect.” Morten Friis-Olsen says we also need to recognise that a key part of any survey is to professionally make public the findings to those concerned. As this normally takes place during events, it would enable researchers to navigate in the latter part of the meeting and event value chain. Sometimes as the local host but mostly as an international meetings delegate. “These people usually have a tight budget and a busy calendar and have to be selective in the global meetings they can attend during the year. If somebody has to choose between two comparable meetings at two different venues, I’m sure they would choose the destination for which they have some sort of emotional tie.” Seen from a communication perspective, does this mean that a destination’s software is just as important as its hardware? To this Morten Friis-Olsen replies that in their responses to the pilot study, association
management companies and professional congress organisers said they expected more from the marketing communication, different from that of the competing destinations. By this he means obvious things like availability, hotel/congress capacity and price comparisons. “It’s difficult to form an opinion of a meetings venue if the destination only communicates the meeting’s hardware, especially in this day and age with a market saturated in the same ‘profit’ concept for meetings of all shapes and sizes. As I see it, convention bureaus should be focusing on promoting the attractions of a destination among the prospective delegates. This they can do by adding cognitive and emotional aspects to their marketing and using these channels to the delegates as unique selling points to international associations and organisations.” It would appear that associations and organisations call for a much broader marketing of the benefits of their meetings than convention bureaus, benefits that stretch much further than the need to fill hotel rooms. “That’s my main point. Marketing communication should be spread about to give a better understanding of the different target audiences that exist. This work should embrace several target audiences to facilitate more widespread communication and customised content.” Morten Friis-Olsen says that in recent years some far-sighted convention bureaus have begun to include destination attractions in their marketing that are relevant to certain customer groups. This approach could also be used to promote a variety of initiatives, such as social engagement and the importance of good meetings, etcetera. This strategic change is already underway in
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“Great benefits await the convention bureau that manages to shift its marketing focus”
the meetings industry and the best practitioners are showing that they value the intellectual resources that are in abundance at an international meeting. This new approach is leaving in its wake managers who focus solely on filling hotel rooms, but B2B communication is still the direction being taken by decision-makers in many global organisations. How does Morten Friis-Olsen see the future of the marketing communication? “Many of the traditional meetings and delegate-boosting programmes will probably not be sufficient to motivate meetings delegates to attend meetings in the future. The sharing economy will bring about a shift in purchases from products to experiences.” According to digital analyst and futurist Brian Solis, the experience is the new brand. Everything is an experience and everything should be geared up towards that end. Convention bureaus should therefore engage much more in reaching out to prospective meetings delegates instead of leaving it to the meeting organiser. “To succeed with penetrative destination marketing, the emphasis
must be shifted over to experiences. Great benefits await the convention bureau that manages to broaden its marketing focus from B2B with associations and organisations – including PCOs and AMCs – to also embrace a B2C strategy with a greater focus on the meetings delegates. By including this target audience, convention bureaus will put themselves in a much healthier position to market the attractions of a destination.” But how can that be achieved? Consumer behaviour is not wholly predictable, but Morten Friis-Olsen says it is possible through understanding how choices are made and tailoring solutions to suit them. “If we are to boost delegate numbers at meetings in the future we need a strategy for our marketing communication. It’s also a tactical tool; a new and independent USP in the business of creating holistic marketing promotion. The idea is to use sales promotion arguments before you win a meeting and not only afterwards. This is sure to maximise attendance figures and revenues. Convention bureaus should recognize that emotions must be present in the communication to reach the
meetings delegates. Neuromarketing has taught us that few decisions are made purely on a rational basis. The majority of decisions, and not just the impulse ones, have a strong emotional element. We need to understand that emotions are an inextricable part of any decision including when deciding to attend a meeting. “The main purpose of the pilot study was to see if a large-scale survey into destination marketing was worth the effort. I see clear indications of even very small improvements in communication having a positive impact due to the fact that the B2C approach is almost non-existent in the meetings and events industry today.” Morten Friis-Olsen believes that a large-scale survey will confirm this line of thought. “My advice right now is to reevaluate your marketing communication and your audience before your competitors do it for you.”
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Eric Bakermans: DELEGATES ARE ALSO CONSUMERS Eric Bakermans Marketing Manager, Meetings & Conventions Manager, Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions
“We (as a national CB) create a funnel into which we push business to the other actors in the playing field” Our primary role as a National CB is to attract international arrivals. For leisure and business reasons alike. To that end, if we look at business visitors who visit our country to attend a multiple day business event (congresses, meetings, exhibitions etc.), we create awareness within the target audience of DMUs who decide to place their event in the Netherlands. Once that has been achieved, our role as a National CB is played out one could think. Once a choice for a destination country has been made, a future delegate is no longer influenceable on the destination as such. That decision has been made by others. But he or MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 16 2015
she might be influenceable on how to spend his or her time in that particular destination. Both in duration as well as in variety. How? We (as a national CB) create a funnel into which we push business to the other actors in the playing field (local CBs, PCOs, venues, restaurants, shops and other service suppliers). In the customer journey of a delegate who’s preparing his or her trip for attending the conference or meeting, there are many stops on the way to make his or her stay as attractive AND as long as possible. And therefore it is important to target this potential target audience with a good proposal. Delegates are also consumers. People who – in general – also look around for nice hotels, restaurants and things to do within the limited time frame of the event when they’re preparing to travel to our destination. There is a wealth of suggestions and ideas in place through existing (online) leisure campaigns. Carefully selected on all kinds of specific characteristics to fit the right audience. The only thing we have to do is to unlock that offer to that particular audience. I’d say there’s room for improvement.
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Henrik Von Arnold: IT’S DOUBTFUL THAT A BUREAU CAN DO THIS MARKETING ON ITS OWN Henrik von Arnold Senior Consultant, Enited Business Events, Vienna
“When marketing a destination you have to be very clear on the message content” Morten Friis-Olsen has a point. Convention bureaux are slow and reluctant to change. I know, I have been managing two in total for more than 15 years. And indeed, more and more associations are looking for destinations who are offering more than accessibility, wide range of accommodation, and good meeting facilities in a safe and easy going environment. They are more and more looking for destinations where the city itself, the trade and industry and the universities are well linked together and work to develop some focus areas.
And yes, destinations could make this more visible to a larger group of people, by being visible in trade magazines, scientific magazines or through other media (social or printed) that actually target the tentative group of interested business persons or researchers or members of specific NGOs. That is about marketing the image of a city, as Copenhagen has done so well when it comes to the green city, or Stanford in connection to IT, or Geneva – the European UN city. However, I have my doubts that a convention bureau will be able to do this marketing on its own, finding the right marketing channels to reach the members of the specific associations they like to bid for. Furthermore, there are a number of European associations who are not very keen to mix the business purpose with the more touristy angle of a destination. As I understand very few – and I have tried, without success, to get the percentage from ICCA’s database – associations actually take their decisions on where to organize their meetings through a formal vote among all their members. Yes, it happens that the formal decision is actually taken at a general assembly, but then it might be a choice between two or three destina-
tions, already evaluated by the board, the congress committee or some other entity within the association. Furthermore, it should be mentioned that when marketing a destination you have to be very clear on the message content, because you are talking to the same person who comes to your destination for two very different purposes. What convention bureaux can do better is, of course, to influence their destinations to be more visible in image marketing focusing on their major knowledge areas. And we can also be much better in delegate boosting. But that is when the decision is already taken. Glasgow has a model for delegate boosting and for organizers, which is really new thinking. Dubai tries to attract associations HQ by offering good conditions. Morten Friis-Olsen doesn’t mention how to develop his marketing ideas towards future meeting delegates, but, of course, I would be the first to listen.
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Christian Mutschlechner: THE FUTURE IS CONTENT MARKETING, NOT DESTINATION MARKETING
“If the quality is excellent you could organise the meeting in the desert!” There is a very simple answer why convention bureaux do not communicate with the participants. Because they do not know them and also do not get access to them (unless the organizer provides and I am doubtful about this). And I would like to see the research figures – we did a large study already in 2010 among participants where the destination appeal was not among the top three reasons to attend a meeting. Not all convention bureaux are on the same quality level, those who are on top know exactly where change is coming from. From the participants and from the organisers, the associations. If associations do not MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 16 2015
an experience. Convention bureaux need to be a partner of the association but the marketing has and will be done by the association itself. They “own” in one way or the other the access and therefore the communication channel to the participant.
photo Sara Appelgren
Christian Mutschlechner Director, Vienna Convention Bureau
adapt to the needs of Millennials, Generation Y and Z, then they will die in the long-term. Convention bureaux should create a dialogue with the associations and help them to adapt meetings structure but also educational knowledge transfer to the needs of these new generations of participants. And for 15–20 percent of the associations market, which are medical meetings, creating probably 30–50 percent of overnights in a destination, more and more counts a quote from a medical meeting planner: “I do not want to have a single participant who comes for the destination, they should only come for the content and education delivered.” A small comment on the last phrase: I am convinced that in the future content and networking opportunities will drive the decision to attend a meeting. If the quality is excellent you could organise the meeting in the desert! I believe the future will not be destination marketing (and again I have to ask the question how I, as a Convention Bureau, get access to participants or potential participants?) but content marketing, driven by the association. Scientific content, the presentation of scientific content, the way education is delivered has to become
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Harvesting the Potential OF DIVERSITY TEXT + IMAGE
Diversity is a broad concept. The discussion here is about a subset, a broad spectrum of perspectives and ideas in meetings. Louise opens the meeting: “Welcome! We have an exciting but demanding task ahead of us. Securing a range of perspectives, opinions and ideas ruled the invitation to this meeting. A rich palette of perspectives and experiences is needed to generate different options and make correct decisions. The task is complex. The first and greatest challenge is to understand that. We will examine different perspectives to find a smooth beginning to the task. The entire meeting will be devoted to this so there will be time to explore different angles, come up with proposals and to discuss. “Views and ideas are not always put to good use. We must actively ensure that they are. The aim is to fill the table with input and assess it all from different angles. Position or title has no relevance as nobody knows the ‘right answer’. An open discussion
is the most important thing. Different perspectives are welcome; the majority is not always right. Different opinions should not lead to disagreement. We have previously agreed on principles for our work. If we respect them then we can stay focused and avoid personal conflicts. “A good outcome is built around a combined effort and responsibility. Only being interested in issues within your own sphere of expertise or role is not enough. We will be using a method to facilitate and structure the work. This may sound stiff and formal but a good method reduces the risk of missing important parts. It will also create room for discussion and creative ideas. Examining different perspectives, broadening the field of view and generating ideas is exciting, but we will also be making decisions and compiling a short list.” A wide range of perspectives, ideas and experiences is essential in solving complex tasks; and more and more tasks are becoming complex. 2015 No. 16 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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Changes occur at a high rate, innovations spread rapidly and knowledge is just a search word away. Individual approaches and assessments are not sufficient to deal with new and complex phenomena, different points of departure are needed to identify opportunities and solve problems. Wisdom of crowds is a well-known term and is also the title of James
not usually questioned, one assumes that a certain point of departure is the only right one (often the majority opinion and/or the generally accepted ‘truth’). Challenging an assumption is not always popular but could be necessary in order to leave the status quo and move on. Examining different perspectives reduces the risk of relying on subjec-
“Only being interested in issues within your own sphere of expertise or role is not enough” Surowiecki’s book on the subject. The implication is that many people together know more than one person alone. This is relevant to meetings because in them, people can collaborate and utilise the group’s collective and broader field of view. Louise stressed the importance of examining different perspectives. Diversity is of particular importance for this vital phase. Different personalities, interests, backgrounds, education, knowledge and experience make people see things from different angles. From one perspective, a problem could seem easy to solve, from another, quite impossible. From one angle you see possibilities, from another you see difficulties. If the introduction to the task is right then chances are the rest will fall into place. If not then the opposite applies, and with only one perspective you run the risk of getting stuck on the same things. Examining different perspectives is a way of finding out if assumptions are correct or not. Assumptions are MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 16 2015
tive views and gut feelings (usually the case) and instead basing things on current, real and relevant data. Confirmation bias is a very common thinking trap. It means searching for information to confirm an assumption rather than facts that may disprove an hypothesis. In today’s abundance of readily available information, it is easy to find support for a particular position; to find proof to the contrary you have to ask other questions. Another common thinking trap is unshaken belief in your own knowledge: ‘I know I’m right’. Examining things from different perspectives can reduce the risk for typical thinking traps. When looking at things from different angles you also discover imperfections, misinterpretations and risks. It is easy to see the value of diversity, but accommodating it at a meeting is a different thing altogether. If a meeting’s participants have similar jobs within the same field then this will limit the number of approaches used. It is so much easier to interact with
people who are on the same wavelength. This is where the importance of the ‘right chemistry’ and ‘perfect fit in the team’ is usually stressed. Even if a meeting contains plenty of diversity there is no guarantee that it will be put to good use. Many factors can stop people from contributing with their ideas and opinions. A packed agenda is a common and, unfortunately, effective obstacle. Time must be allocated to presenting perspectives, listening to viewpoints and discussing different options. Stress and time constraints limit the depth and breadth of debate and assessments. A complex and demanding task should therefore be the only item on the agenda. A great deal of research has been conducted into group psychology, behaviour and dynamics. Studies have highlighted the effects that diversity could have on different factors, such as information management, analysis and problem solving. Other examples include creativity, idea generation and learning, likewise assessments, decisions and implementations. Research has also been conducted into the meaning of ‘sense of security’ and the role that conflicts play. Different factors can support or counteract each other. Groups usually tend to discuss things they already know, that is to say shared knowledge. Unique and undivided knowledge possessed by only a few people remains that way for some time and only comes out on direct request (or not at all). Participants could think that their views are not important or of interest to others. They could be afraid that their views will be seen as criticism and lead to conflicts. And they might not want to waste the meeting’s time. There are several mechanisms at work that stop views, opinions and assessments that differ from the majority view from
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being presented, noted or further developed. A strong consensus limits the possibility of utilising the diversity available at a meeting. Experiments have shown that people will sacrifice their own opinions to remain part of a group, even when common sense speaks against it. Having another opinion is not easy. Everybody wants to be part of the group, slot in
will gladly come with new perspectives and ideas. Dare to look beyond the ‘usual gang’. Engage participants from a variety of fields with different competences and approaches. Be open for the unexpected; wild cards are a must. Use issues to steer the meeting. Formulate questions that entice
different views, ideas and solutions
“The implication is that many people together know more than one person alone” and be appreciated. If a participant takes a cautious stand on a certain issue then the rest of the group could become protectionist of the majority decision, even more so if the participant has an audacious view. This could also come into play when people put their unflagging trust in the accuracy of prognoses and ambiguous information. Different views, opinions and ideas are a valuable asset but could also make it difficult to reach consensus on decisions and actions. Different opinions could also spark conflicts. The nature of the task is also of significance. Managing a completely new and complex task with obscure mechanisms and dependences is very different to managing a well-versed and foreseeable task. The research findings are fascinating and useful in as much as they help us avoid typical mistakes and thinking traps. Invite people with diversity in mind.
Think in different ways when sending invitations. Try to bring together people who reason differently and who
to the the surface. Ensure that they open up for many different answers and have the chance to consider them, as opposed to just inviting simple answers or expecting the ‘right answer’. One example of an open formulation: What lessons from similar fields may we have missed? Good questions rouse inquisitiveness and engagement. A carefully prepared list of questions could also function as a checklist and reduce the risk of missing some important aspects. Different perspectives could be seen as issues. One could systematically present different perceptual frameworks, like window openings all facing in different directions, and let the participants look through them from their respective points of departure and perspectives. Examples of perceptual frameworks: Which factors are most unknown to us? Which assumptions should be reassessed? Which of the task conditions could be changed? What would we see if we were active in the industry/ sector? Further examples: sustainability, environment and ethics. The
purpose: to discover new sides and possibilities. Try to get as many views and ideas onto the table as possible. The par-
ticipants must want to contribute and be open to other perspectives. A lack of engagement and motivation will only lead to the diversity in a room not being put to good use. Many factors impact the drive and dynamics of a meeting. Is the atmosphere positive and open? Does the task feel right? Is the overall objective seen as being of value? Is the direction being taken clear for all to see? Is there room for seeking minds to seek? Are opinions and suggestions met in a good way? Is there interest for new solutions? Louise mentioned principles for group work. Reaching agreement on how to interact and treat each other is a good idea. An informal ‘contract’ can play a crucial role in motivation and engagement and make it easier to combine a range of opinions with trust and togetherness. Bear in mind receptivity for viewpoints and ideas. A wide range
of opinions and suggestions are of no use if they cannot be observed, appreciated and further developed. Receptivity for new and different perspectives can be seen as a surface. If large and varied there is a greater chance that the ideas will stick and be further developed. If only one person or authority decides which contributions are promising or not of interest then the surface area is limited (not an unusual scenario). A wide open and multifaceted surface is essential in harvesting the potential of diversity. Use a considered approach. A considered approach gives a solid foundation to stand on and allows different perspectives to be presented and judged on different terms. The switch between divergent and convergent phases is smoother and easier 2015 No. 16 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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“It is easy to see the value of diversity, but accommodating it at a meeting is a different thing altogether”
to handle. Different opinions could lead to disagreements and conflicts, a considered approach can reduce that risk. A considered approach is usually seen as being neutral and objective because we know that is what is leading the work rather than some random personal opinion. It also paves the way for further development, which could help to steer things away from the usual thinking traps. A diversity of perspectives, experiences and ideas is vital in solving complex tasks and developing new possibilities, not least for innovation. But diversity is not automatically put to good use. For this to happen we must want to broaden our horizons, dare to see more than the eye perceives and be prepared to make the effort to understand new phenomena, even when complex and unexpected. One could also discuss what is not the right recipe: ticking off as many agenda items as possible per unit of time and taking the most comfortable and well-worn route and sticking with obsolete conventions and meetings formats.
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Jan Rollof has vast experience of scientific research and both public and private sectors. Decision-making is one of his specialities and he has written many books on creativity and innovation, and two books on meetings.
Bibliography Paul Paulus, Bernard
Nijstad Group Creativity: Innovation through Collaboration; Scott Page The Difference: How the power of diversity creates better groups, firms, schools, and societies; James Surowiecki The Wisdom of Crowds; Daniel Kahneman Thinking, Fast and Slow. Search tips on Wikipedia: Solomon Asch + conformity; Groupthink + Janis; Cognitive biases.
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Ivo Franschitz, CEO and co-founder of the Austrian company, Enited Business Events, leads an experienced team whose members come from Austria, Germany, Spain and Sweden. The team – strategists, organizers, contributors, implementers, mentors and doers in the meetings and event industry – is based in Vienna and works all over the world. Although they come from diverse backgrounds, they have one thing in common: a passion for excellence. TEXT
Bryan Ralph Ivo Franschitz started the company in 1998 together with his wife and partner Rosa B. Reyero Miguelez, following a classic DMC/PCO/Event management bureau business model. However, what they did already at that time had a different end value proposition: Open book/transparent fee versus Commission scheme. All too often, the business was only about delivering services according to the client’s wishes and staying within the budget. Nothing more. Nothing less. No dialogue, or at least not much, about doing a successful job – just focusing on doing the job. Franschitz and Miguelez decided to think more deeply about what they were doing in their company. Was this what they wanted to do? Doing what
Kerstin Holm everybody else was doing? And why were so many companies not adapting to the wind of change in the meetings and event industry, and more importantly, why weren’t the clients? And why did it feel as if the public relations and advertising companies were 10 years ahead of the event industry? “We started to think about why the change process didn’t take off in the event industry. We thought it’s all about attitude and starting to trust our own ideas,” Ivo Franschitz says. “‘The change process’, as we called it. Our view was: when you have a good idea, you should share it with other people – then it can grow into something great. “For us, being passionate about something means not being satisfied 2015 No. 16 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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with the first result that comes along in your head. It means aiming for the best result. “The first thing – and this is my personal philosophy – is that you always achieve something when you share. It’s always give and take. There is never just a one-way street, in life or in business. And that applies even more today and in the future, than in the past. You need to share. We are
the idea. This is why sharing the idea of excellence is so important. “We made this change as recently as 2013, when Rosa and I decided to do something to become more than a service provider, by becoming a solution provider instead. We had to take the initiative and do something ourselves. It didn’t come to us automatically. We just needed to do something. We both thought that
“A lot of people think they own an idea and lock it in their drawer”
facing a world of information – facing a world of knowledge. One person cannot comprehend it all. You need to share. To summarize the sharing idea: you can sit on it, you can be the owner of it, you can be proud of it. But in the end it doesn’t bring you anything if you are not able and willing to share it.” Ivo Franschitz says that the second part of their new attitude towards life is sharing the idea of excellence. “You can do a lot of things, but it will only become meaningful if you try to do it as well as you can. Excellence is our approach in our business world. “You can do a lot of events. Everybody can do events nowadays. It’s wonderful and there’s no limit to it, but it only becomes meaningful if we create results that leave something good behind us, and if we strive to do an excellent job. But you have to do it from the beginning. You need to understand what you are aiming for. This is the way – you have to share MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 16 2015
we had been going round in circles and this reduced our motivation and increased our frustration.” About 14 months later, the look and feel of their company is completely different. They found the way, and that is: sharing the idea of excellence. “Yes, today, this is actually how Rosa and I define our way of doing business. Normally people say, ‘We will not share’. A lot of people think they own an idea and lock it in their drawer. “The basic ideas in your life come from your personal emotions, the heart of you. When we started the company in 1998, we never wanted to be the biggest, or the smartest. We always defined ourselves as a rather small company of a certain size. Today, we are driven by the idea of quality. “We know, of course, that we will never stop learning. This core idea goes back to when I was a child. I
always wanted to give 100 percent in whatever I decided to do. There is a saying: ‘you can’t be half pregnant.’” The company is actually moving from the red lake to the blue ocean, as in the famous Blue Ocean strategy, and today they are daring to challenge their clients. “I know this is the way forward for our business. A change in strategy is always a challenge, and it is something very personal. Rosa is Spanish and I’m Austrian. We are very different as people, but we totally agree on everything that is important. Now we like to challenge our clients. “We invested a lot money for being a small company. We started as an event company, to break up the alphabet soup we all still live in, the world of DMC, PCO, AMC and so on. We provided services like a DMC and a PCO, but we are no longer within those definitions. At the start it was a challenge to find clients that wanted to discuss our ideas on their development as more of a business partner. It was a challenge to make them choose us among the 150 other companies saying the same thing. In Austria there are close to 5,000 event management companies. The biggest one is also the biggest catering firm in Austria.” Today they have a small number of clients following their transition from logistics service provider to solution provider. “Too many clients don’t ask how fresh the fish is, but only how much it costs,” says Ivo Franschitz. “The client calls you because he has a need. But often he is only looking for the cheapest and the fastest. “Cost and value are still important issues for events. But we don’t want to work for clients who are only interested in telling you what to do about their needs, and then want to get it as cheaply as possible.”
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Ivo Franschitz says that they are also working on developing destinations and creating destination strategies. He has commented: “A city has to be more than a city.” “From a purely economic perspective, we asked ourselves: where are the markets of the future and what are their needs? We think it will be the association market and the destination market.
many and Lyon in France as similar good examples. “This engagement in development through business events, and turning it into ROI, is key to becoming a city that is more than a city. Old school DMCs are still in the business of providing logistics solutions, but don’t really understand how to develop a city. Knowing your city, your clusters, your politicians, knowing what is happening and who
“In the end it doesn’t bring you anything if you are not able and willing to share”
“As I see it, 95 percent of all the destination cities are still doing almost nothing about this. There is no understanding that business events are the future for developing their city. Business people leave a lot of money in their tracks and the politicians of a city must understand the difference between filling hotel rooms and creating possibilities for business events. “Business events develop universities, companies and associations – they develop the whole community. This is key for developing the city, the region and individuals. This leads to continuous development. I can take my hometown Vienna as an example of a city where politicians do understand and the convention bureau is a driving force. Another great example is Glasgow in Scotland.” Business events in Glasgow play an important part in developing the city, according to Ivo Franschitz, who also mentions Hamburg in Ger-
the developers are: these are the first steps towards developing a city, and becoming a city that is more than a city. “Every city has a lot of hotel rooms. But many cities still talk just about how many hotel rooms they have and want to show them to journalists. This is an outdated approach. They should show journalists what the city is and what it stands for. It is far better for journalists to meet researchers from the universities or listen to the mayor talking about the strategy for business events and city development. That is important, not how many hotel rooms the city has. “Society is changing and it is changing fast. Big data, the Internet of Things … every aspect of your business is about to change. Transparency is the currency of leadership in the age of social media. And there is a question that needs to be asked: is your company ready?”
The trend is striking. The average life span of companies in the S&P 500 was 61 years in 1958, but has now fallen to about 20 years, according to Yale’s Richard Foster, who predicts a continued steady decline. The concept of companies as continuing institutions may even cease to be the norm well before the end of this century. “There will always be a need for logistics,” says Ivo Franschitz. “But, looking at the trade shows in our own industry, nothing has changed over the past 20–30 years. As I see it there is no difference between the trade shows of 1988 and today. “Exhibitors’ behavior is still the same. It’s more important to return home with 500 business cards after one-minute meetings than actually doing some real business with 15–20 people you have really listened to. This is a refusal to adapt to how business is done nowadays, and it really drives me mad. I go to the shows as a trade visitor, then I don’t have to run around to meetings. I don’t want to have meetings with exhibitors who don’t want to meet me and that doesn’t generate business for anyone. “It’s time to change, time to develop, time to share the idea of excellence. What are we afraid of?”
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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. photo Sara Appelgren
Big Lesson I LEARNED ON A PLANE I’ve spent much of the past 20 years on airplanes. The longer the flight, the better it is. More time to think + create + write + refuel. In a world of such attraction to distraction, it’s one of the few sacred places left to enjoy innovation borne of solitude. And the opportunity to reflect. And yet, I’ve also had wonderful conversations with fascinating people at 50,000 feet. A few weeks ago, on a flight over to Bucharest, I was blessed to sit next to a man with an original point of view. He was open and warm and thoughtful. For whatever reason, I’m meeting so many like this, these days … … I asked him who was the leader who had had the greatest impact on him. He replied that it was one of the top people at the pharma company he’d worked for. I asked him why. “Robin, he was just one of those human beings you get to meet two or three times in a lifetime.” My new gold standard … to radiate the decency, humanity, excellence and authenticity required for people to say, on my end, that they’d only
witnessed a handful of times over the course of their lives. My seatmate went on the celebrate this man’s ability to remember everyone’s name, to ask after their families, to see the learning chances when they failed, to collaborate versus isolate on the team and to essentially be the kind of leader we all wish we could be. A lifter of others. A builder of quality. A galvanizer of dreams. Then … today, as I walked the street near my office, I met a man I’d had lunch with years ago. I was just beginning my career in the leadership/high-performance arena. He was an icon of business. And yet, in a stroke of pure graciousness, he happily agreed to my invitation. I still don’t know why. Maybe because he loves to learn from every experience. Perhaps because he wanted to help. Probably because he’s just a really good person. His name is Harry Rosen. Started his first shop in 1954. With a $500 down-payment. Grew it into something legendary. And yet, even at the top, he walked the floors of his various stores. Shook the hands of those who put food on his table and made
the connections that being in business is meant to make. On the street, there in the sunshine, maybe 15 years after our lunch, he remembered me well. I was humbled. A little astounded. Definitely moved. Mr. Rosen shared he’d finally retired. And was engaged in new exciting things. He then spent 15 minutes asking about me, my work, the life I’d lived since our first encounter. I tried to turn the spotlight onto him. Out of respect for an elder. Out of honor for all he’s done. But I failed. He was just too curious and interested and kind. The kind of person I hope people will say I was, when I get to the end.
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Tomas Dalström PHOTOS
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Samuel West is a doctoral student studying organisational psychology at Lund University in southern Sweden. His dissertation, which he will be defending in December, is called Playing at Work: Organizational Play as a Facilitator of Creativity. Samuel West is also co-author of the book Kreativitet – teori och praktik ur psykologiskt perspektiv (Creativity – Theory and Practice from a Psychological Perspective) published last year. Can playfulness be used in all types of meetings?
“At most meetings, yes. When I missionize on playfulness I’m often asked if it doesn’t go too far sometimes. It’s a small risk because of the very strong forces that oppose playfulness. I’ve never seen it go too far. If we’re talking about never-ending work meetings, ninety percent could easily be made more playful. There are, of course, meetings in which playfulness has no place. I wouldn’t like somebody to fire me in a playful way, for example.” How do you define play?
“It’s always fun. If it’s not fun then it’s not play. It’s always voluntary, if you force somebody to play then it will grind to a halt. There is an element of imagination in made-up rules and the like, but the game still takes place in reality. There are always rules that govern organised games or it wouldn’t be fun or challenging. You can’t demand any rewards from the game. When you play you do so for the sake of the game, because it’s fun. You don’t do it to im-
prove your stamina or to become more creative. There could be an effect, but you can’t play to achieve certain goals. This aspect is the most difficult from a business perspective. “It’s the same with creativity. Research shows that we mostly get unexpected ideas when not doing something work related. Taking a walk, having a shower, washing up … A complete waste of time from a business point of view. This is difficult for decision-makers to understand. They focus solely on productivity, performance and results. This isn’t altogether a bad thing because that is what organisations are there for, but creativity has a different set of rules that allow you to take a quick break from rationality. This is where play comes in as a way of doing that. The problem is that decision-makers have become decision-makers because they’re rational. They think that productivity and performance can only be improved using the tried and tested methods. Therefore, play has no value in their organisation. But there are those who are having a rethink.” Is it possible to play the whole time?
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it’s serious. You have to be able to switch back and forth. There’s very little research into the connection between a playful-friendly environment and creativity. When I began looking into what existed in the way of knowledge and experimentation surrounding meetings, particularly with regard to factors like creativity and engagement, I found alarmingly
fest itself in many different ways. I was at a meeting the other day and the organiser said ‘tell us your name, what you work with and what you had for breakfast’. What does that have to do with anything? Nothing, but it was fun to hear the limited variations to our breakfasts. It wasn’t a ha-ha or euphoric moment, but it cheered things up a bit.”
“Play is a pleasurable way of tricking people out of their comfort zones” little research. Play gave even worse results. I have not found any studies that evaluate play during meetings.” I watched you on a video from Lund University. It looked basically the same as when I lecture, not particularly playful. Why is that?
“Frameworks, boring frameworks.”
How do you break out from them?
“That’s my dilemma. On the one hand, I want to practice what I preach. On the other hand, I am just as restricted as anybody else by conformity and fear. I recently held a lecture at a large company. The day before, the manager rang to sound me out because he was worried that it might get silly. It’s difficult at times but I love the challenge. I see the potential, and not everybody is against fun and games.” What is fun at work?
“You know you have things to do but nobody has told you exactly how to do them. It all comes down to finding some sort of flexibility – a game room – that allows you to do it more playfully, to make it more enjoyable for you or someone else. It can maniMEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 16 2015
Tell us about the experiments you conducted at your Superlab.
“It was just an ordinary meeting room with a glazed partition that allowed me to see what they were doing without hearing what they were saying. I even installed sensors that measured everything from the carbon dioxide content to how many voices were speaking simultaneously, along with basic stuff like temperature, sound and lighting levels.” Who took part in the experiment?
“As soon as companies booked a room they were taking part in the experiment. Some became part of the control group and nothing happened.” I’ve seen you use toy guns.
“Yes, I’ve used a variety of aids to entice playfulness at meetings, including Nerf guns, a foam dart blaster. I love them. Once when a group was taking a break halfway through a meeting, I went in and set things up. I put a Nerf gun and a bowl of ammunition at each place. In another group I replaced the fruit bowl with a bowl of candy floss. A third group all received a thick envelope from Lund Univer-
sity. When they opened it they found two instructions: 1) Put the false moustache on; 2) Carry on with the meeting as though nothing has happened. Hysterically funny. A fourth group got an envelope with instructions to look out for anybody who touched their face with their hands. When somebody did they had to lift their hands in the air and shout Life is Wonderful! This is guaranteed to get things going. Everybody keeps an eagle eye on their hands and nobody dares to scratch their nose or adjust their spectacles. Of course it takes a while before somebody dares to lift their hands in the air and shout. “I was once booked to present my research at a seminar held at the institute. In academic circles it is all about criticising and finding fault in deadly earnest. I gave them all a Nerf gun and told them I was open to criticism but if they wanted to criticise me they would have to shoot me first. Then I ran like a lunatic. It was a pleasant and fruitful meeting.” What did your Superlab teach you?
“That various forms of play brings out the creative urge in people and that participants feel they are being more productive.” Does everybody feel at home with the fun and games?
“Some probably find it embarrassing. I’m very cautious, based on previous experience, and don’t force anyone to take part. Nobody makes them put on the false moustache. Instead, we send out signals saying that playful behaviour is perfectly alright. If you compare it with team building, it’s like your boss saying ‘we’re all going to ride jet skis in wetsuits and it’ll be great fun.’ For him maybe. You don’t think so at all. Is it fun? No. Is it work? Yes. You’re forced to do it. As soon as you’re made to do something against your will the game loses its magical appeal.”
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Is voluntariness essential for all play at work?
“Yes it is. I’ve interviewed several consultants who call themselves Play Advocates. One of their gurus told me that he coaches participants in the art of saying no before he holds a workshop.” Isn’t there a chance that you feel slightly inhibited if you say no?
“You can’t get away from that.
out, just like when you workout at a gym. You have to do it regularly to reap the long-term benefits. Some American companies claim to be exaggeratedly fun places to work. I wouldn’t like to work there if I were American. Having to go around acting euphoric all the time can’t be that much fun.” What happens in the brain when we play?
“Companies that manage to create a playful atmosphere don’t really need a Christmas party” There’s always group pressure trying to suck you in, but nobody should feel forced.” You’ve conducted a study that shows that improvisation theatre also improves creativity.
“That’s probably the most effective way to generate ideas and collaborate in a work group or management team. The creativity in a group increases nearly threefold when the employees play improvisation theatre together. Even here it’s vital that everybody taking part do so voluntarily.” What is good to do and what is not so good to do?
“It’s nearly always good, but not if the participants are stressed, if there is unease in the room, a conflict or crisis. There’s no point in trying to improve the atmosphere with playfulness then. It has to be playful the whole time. When you arrive in the morning, during the coffee break … Companies that manage to create a playful atmosphere don’t really need a Christmas party. It’s part of the company culture, week in and week
“Experimenting and trying new things is part of the learning process. You become more flexible in your associations because there’s an imaginary element built around fantasy, which is good for your creativity. Man is one of very few animals that retains the lust to play after puberty. Most animals play when young but later stop. In play you can test new behaviour and thoughts without having to take the consequences. Animal studies show that animals that don’t get to play lack basic survival instincts like reproduction and social skills.” Isn’t dopamine, which is part of the reward system and affects our moods and emotions, also involved when we play?
“If it’s fun and absorbing then yes, it also plays a part.” In an interview in Meetings International (3/2013), Management Professor Alf Rehn said that we have to get beyond what he calls the self-evident realm when we think outside the box. When we get close to the border the brain secretes stress hormones to
stop us continuing. If we stop and carry on as usual, the brain rewards us with dopamine. He argues that we show enormous hatred and loathing when faced with real change. This is fundamental. How do you get people to pass through the self-evident realm?
“I don’t like working out in a gym and I don’t run marathons. I’m a civilised person who takes walks. Last week I joined my son in decathlon training. I climbed a tree and ran up a hill. I was exhausted but it was great fun. I was completely absorbed by it and experienced total flow and felt like I was leaving my comfort zone. There are very few people who do it solely on the basis of rational reasoning. Play is a pleasurable way of tricking people out of their comfort zones.” You’ve interviewed creativity and play consultants all over the world. What sticks out the most?
“The fact that they use play deliberately. They have their methods of introducing play to organisations. Most of them say they do it to build up group trust. When you play together with somebody, lark about, open up, something happens.” You drop your guard …
“Yes, and you break down hierarchies. Not so relevant in Sweden perhaps, but in many other countries you need to know your place in the hierarchy. They also use it to make people more aware of their own ideas and the ideas that others have. It also engages people and generates energy in the group. You have to have a relationship to work collaboratively. Companies are not that interested in creative geniuses who work alone, they prefer people who can work in a team creatively.” Are there cultural differences?
“There is research that corroborates that, but I’ve never studied it. 2015 No. 16 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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I made an unsuccessful attempt in Italy because I underestimated their authoritarian and hierarchical system of control. They waited to see what the boss did and it wasn’t until he joined in the fun that they hesitantly followed suit. I’ve also been to Japan. They have a very playful culture, both at home and at work, but it stops abruptly as soon as you try to intro-
You say that in play the boss and the workers enjoy the same status. That sounds ideal.
“Not always, of course, but in play I interact with you as the person or the role I have in the game, not as your boss. I once had a hierarchical group of care workers. They got to play a game where they hunted each other. They enjoyed it immensely and
“Learning takes place when we experiment and try new things” duce it in a business context. They’re afraid of losing face. South Korea, Singapore and China are all pushing for more creativity but their creativity development programmes are very rational. It would be fun to conduct a serious research project into the cultural differences there, pop up like a jack-in-the-box and play. There are companies in the USA that focus on creating job satisfaction and maintaining it. These are industries that are always on the lookout for talent and keeping it. The level of playfulness is higher among advertising agencies and game developers. The hierarchy is stronger but American businesspeople are not afraid to stick out from the crowd, which, of course, boosts playfulness.”
had a great laugh. It was interesting to hear their comments afterwards. ‘I had no idea he was that much fun’ type of thing. It takes the pressure off a group.” Are creative people childish?
“Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who coined the phrase ’flow’, has studied that. One of the interesting things he found was that they kept their playfulness all the way into old age. Most stop playing when life gets serious with a list of ‘must dos’ and responsibilities. You’re allowed to be playful with children and when you’re drunk.”
You also say there are strong ties between creativity and inner motivation. What do you mean by that?
“As play is something you do for the sake of it, because it’s fun, you do it because you want to. If, in an organisational context, you can make a work task more fun then you will get people to do it without financial reward. There’s a good online video. Search for ’piano stairs Odenplan.’ People take the stairs because it’s more fun than taking the escalators. There are other films on the same theme, including the world’s deepest wastepaper basket.” How does one go about creating a culture that is playful?
“Firstly, the boss has to set a good example. You have no chance if people sit around waiting for the boss to lead the way. My meeting experiment notes show that nothing happens in groups with a sceptical leader. Things take off as soon as the group leader begins firing a Nerf gun. This also applies to Sweden, the land of equality. Secondly, as with creativity, the organisation must have an expressed policy that values play. I was once sitting in a café with a view straight into the staff room. There was a comical note on the wall urging them to wash their hands, have fun and laugh. Having fun is just as important as washing your hands. They’re explicitly telling their staff that job satisfaction and playfulness are important.”
Tomas Dalström is an author, journalist, lecturer and innovator with a passion for the brain. Author of the book “Bäst i text · Läseboken/Skrivboken” (Best in Text · The Reading Book/The Writing Book) about writing texts that communicate on the terms of the brain, he also runs veryimportantbrains.se and blogs about the brain and communication at bastitext.se. photo Sara Appelgren
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Roger Kellerman Publisher, business intelligence analyst, trend creator, educator and networker. Has close to 30 years’ experience of the global meeting industry. Founder of Mötesindustriveckan. twitter.com/thekellerman photo Sara Appelgren
We Need to Know More IN ORDER TO DO A GOOD JOB Prior to the second edition of our international Business Intelligence Report, we can conclude: We did not achieve our goal of writing more about Africa, South America and several Asian countries. We have not received much help from Amex, CWT or the other large global operators to find sources that never dry up. But we are hardly to blame, even if our editorial office is among the smallest in the world for an international meetings magazine. The lack of information is naturally no easy thing. How should those acting locally and regionally in, for example, Malaysia, Indonesia or Nigeria be expected to know of our existence and our efforts to spread awareness of the meetings industry in other geographical locations? One way, of course, is to attend fairs like IMEX Frankfurt and IBTM World in Barcelona and take note of the information shared there. But is it sufficient? No, of course not. It is time for us to create more knowledge hubs where all the reports produced every year by people like MPI, AMEX, CWT, ICCA, ACTE, GBTA, PCMA, AIPC, IACC, IAPCO, SITE can be stored in one place to enable journalists to find the material they need to be able to
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write articles with greater depth and analysis than at present. We will never create straight communication channels between the meetings industry and the media if the industry’s representatives do not understand that this is the way forward. The number of printed press releases at the large fairs has fallen in favour of USB sticks, but has that improved the quality of the information going out? Dubious. Also, at our office we receive images from all over the world every day with no info about what or who the image depicts, just a numeral or alphabetical code. Most often the images are low resolution and unusable. If you work online in real time, images like that (and the news) quickly end up further down the to-do list. When all is said and done, the important thing is that there are companies that are aware of the importance of communicating through the media channels and who take it seriously by not only releasing information, but reflecting over it and analysing it as well. While on the subject of journalism, many suppliers speak of PR as though a magazine’s most important task is to act as a megaphone from suppliers to readers. Unfortunately,
this sometimes happens, but if the media does not want to deepen the dialogue by asking the important counter questions then all the channels will look the same. Karaoke media. A host of European countries, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Brazil and nearly all African states, with the possible exception of South Africa, who have come some way along the road, need to be better in understanding how to communicate with the rest of the world. Naturally, this raises the issue of ‘small’ matters such as freedom of expression and freedom of the media to write and convey what they want, which cannot be taken for granted in some countries. We are now taking the next step by improving our relationship with nations that are just beyond our horizon. We take our steps and expect to be met halfway.
Conventions don´t have to be conventional A business trip to Madrid seems less like hard work than most. Sunny weather, conveniently located conference venues and gourmet lunches are just some of the bonuses for when you visit on business. Aer a busy day, Madrid’s famous museums and elegant stores are a great way to recharge before sampling the vibrant nightlife. Relax over tapas in an outdoor café or dance until dawn. Whatever you do, Madrid is the business.
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At this very moment Josef Penninger and his team are presenting the latest breakthrough in cancer research in Vienna. Time for your meeting to change the course of science? ACV.AT MESSECONGRESS.AT VIENNA.CONVENTION.AT
Prof. Josef Penninger, Austrian geneticist, scientific director of the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences ÂŠ IMBA/Michael Sazel