Event design is a highly current topic on event planners’ agenda. It begins with ‘why’ the event is required in the first place, and how to bring the many individual elements of the event (audience, branding, venue, format, communication, content, destination, sustainability, accessibility and more) together to create a seamless delegate experience.
This year, I developed a strong interest in design after attending the Switzerland Tourism Influencer Summit that focused on art and architecture, and subsequently chose to deep dive into this topic with further research, including the #eventprofstalk Twitter chat about ‘The fundamentals of event design that will guide #eventprofs to deliver more impactful events’ and speaking at the Illerhaus Marketing MICE Branchentreff about ‘How can event organisers structure their social media plan based on the principles of event design.’ A further opportunity came along to attend the #GrenzenlosesEventdesign (Translated as ‘borderless event design’ from German) from 7–10 November 2019. This educational trip was organised by three national convention bureaus: the Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau, Convention Partner Vorarlberg and German Convention Bureau.
The term ‘event designing’ is well known in our industry, and many event professionals also apply the principles of event design to their events. With the increasing attention of our audience shifting to online channels, it is equally important to highlight the process of an event on the various online channels, namely pre-, during and after an event takes place. Social media is on the rise, and looking at Instagram alone, it has significant reach—according to a Sprout Social report from April 2019, it has 1 billion users. This number is not to be ignored, and therefore event professionals when designing events for their ‘physical’ audiences need to take into account their online audience as well.
‘How can event organisers structure their social media plan based on the principles of event design?’ was the title of a talk I gave together with Natallia Zaremba from Zaremba Consulting at the recent Illerhaus Marketing MICE Branchentreff event in Konstanz. Natallia is based in Zurich, and her background is sales and marketing in the tourism and hospitality industry. With over 20 years’ experience, she quickly realised that the traditional sales presentations are not as effective as they used to be, and the product or service sold should be presented differently, namely adding an online element to the B2B sales channels. For one year, she has run her own company that offers consulting services in the MICE industry on online marketing and venue searches.
In our presentation, we focused on how to transfer the event experience to social media and ‘take your delegates’ on this digital journey.
‘You can’t explain what I have experienced’, say visitors to the Wadden Sea area. After visiting this region from 14–15 October, specifically Esbjerg, Ribe, Fanoe Island and the Wadden Sea National Park, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, I’d like to share with you what particularly impressed me and in my opinion made this experience so one of a kind. This was our visit to the Wadden Sea, which, according to UNESCO ‘is one of the last remaining large-scale, intertidal ecosystems where natural processes continue to function largely undisturbed.’ Furthermore, the date of our trip was intentionally selected to experience the Black Sun phenomenon, which is an extraordinary natural wonder to witness in autumn and spring.
In my previous post highlighting this newest MICE destination of Denmark—the Wadden Sea Area—, I shared with you the background about Meet & More, which forms part of Business Esbjerg, and their scope of venues and activities for corporate events. As the name indicates, there is more to the meeting element, and in the Wadden Sea National Park, there are several activities that you can take part in that make for an outstanding, once-in-a-lifetime experience that can’t be enjoyed anywhere else and will add much ‘more’ to the business event.
In June of this year, I attended a corporate event in Italy for the first time. It was in Trento, a mountain destination close to Switzerland and Austria. I visited some highly unique venues (one was previously a tunnel, the second a museum), had the best pizza I’d eaten in years, took coffee breaks highlighting Italian’s best espresso, and loved the warm hospitality of local people, some of whom couldn’t speak English, but I always found a way to handle the situation. This business trip was a short getaway, but it felt like holidays and not a conference. I set for myself a goal to explore Italian’s MICE destinations further.
Strong international growth for Italy
Fortunately, this opportunity already materialised this year when I attended an event organised by ENIT (the Italian National Tourist Board) on 22 October at the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich, Switzerland. This event was part of the annual roadshow in three German-speaking countries, and after Zurich continued to Munich in Germany and Vienna in Austria. This year marks the 100-year anniversary for ENIT, which is responsible for promoting Italy internationally as a travel destination. Since 2016, ENIT has had a new business structure that optimises resources in order to increase the efficiency of expenditure and promotion to foster the growth of key geographical markets. Its promotional activities have been proved successful, and in 2018, Italy surpassed France in international overnight stays, and it’s catching up with Spain. Italy also has very strong performance in the association meetings market, and according to the 2018 ICCA rankings, it ranked sixth internationally and fifth in Europe for the number of meetings that took place.
Event Planners are constantly on the lookout for new and emerging MICE destinations that will exceed the expectations of even the most well-travelled and experienced business travellers. Such meeting destinations should be yet unexplored, but at the same time easily accessible, have modernised infrastructure and diverse offerings for incentive activities that can be organised alongside the business programme. I’m thrilled to introduce you to the newest meeting destination of Denmark, located on the South Western coast, Esbjerg, with the surrounding Ribe, Fanoe Island and the Wadden Sea.
From 14–15 October 2019, Thomas Loris and I visited Esbjerg with Meet & More, which forms part of Business Esbjerg, to experience first hand what this region has to offer for corporate events and to relaunch the concept of Meet & More. The name in itself is self-explanatory, meaning that this is a meeting destination, but when event planners choose to host their event in Esbjerg, there is much ‘more’ to this. Event planners can integrate an experience into nature, explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Wadden Sea National Park or take a short ferry trip to Fanoe Island. And furthermore, an important aspect is the strong industry focus and the core business areas of Esbjerg, which are strongly linked to the energy sector.