I first came across the term ‘fake conference’ while following a social media discussion from Convention4you, an annual national conference organised by the Austrian Convention Bureau (ACB) for their partners that took place on 24–25 June 2019. As a result, I was intrigued to learn more about this topic and reached out to my connection at the Salzburg Convention Bureau, Gernot Marx, who attended this conference and shared with me further insights from this session.
Gernot is the Managing Director of the Salzburg Convention Bureau and Vice President of the Austrian Convention Bureau. As part of their yearly Convention4u programme, one afternoon it was dedicated to open topics to be addressed in a ‘convention camp’ format, and these were decided by the participants. Several delegates suggested the topic ‘Fake Conference’ because ACB members had come across this phenomenon in the past 1–2 years, and this turned out to be one of the most highly attended sessions.
Recently, I’ve been asked what trends I see for the MICE industry for 2020. One of these trends, in my opinion, is the rise of the 2nd– and 3rd-tier MICE destinations. These are the rising stars of the MICE industry; they are smaller, affordable and offer good value for money but are still under the radar for the particularly large conventions. The 2nd– and 3rd-tier destinations have matured to serve the local and national MICE markets and developed rapidly to win international congresses.
After visiting some of the most surprising off-the-beaten-path destinations this year including Mainz, Starnberg, Karlsruhe, Calgary and Trento, on 12 September 2019, I was in Kassel on a business trip to attend the Illerhaus Marketing MICE Branchentreff event, where I was an exhibitor; I met local event planners and shared information about the upcoming Event Planners Talk Conference from 27–30 August 2020 in Bern, Switzerland.
Back in June, I attended Traverse, a conference dedicated to content creators and the blogging industry. Each year it takes place at a different destination, and this year it took place in Trento, Italy. The event has established itself as the most important gathering for content creators, and after attending last year’s edition in Rotterdam, I decided to attend again. One of the highlights of this concept is that it doesn’t have the usual ‘conference’ format, but rather a festival-like atmosphere with an extensive pre-conference programme and social activities, taking place during the week, with an educational conference being held on the weekend.
I purchased an early bird ticket, and until the very last moment, I was hesitant whether I should go because this period turned out to be a very busy time of the year. After many considerations, I decided to go and was very glad that I did because it exposed me to useful educational content, and I got to visit a new MICE destination. Unfortunately, I had to skip the pre-conference activities and could come only for the conference on the weekend, arriving Friday night and leaving Monday morning. The good thing about this event was that the overall programme provided an immersive experience of the city beyond the conference venue, so I still got to see enough of it to get a rounded destination experience.
Back in May, I attended Exclusively Corporate at IMEX Frankfurt. Exclusively Corporate is a conference specifically designed for the needs of corporate event managers. It offers a full day of education and networking during EduMonday, which takes place one day prior to the exhibition—this year EduMonday was held on 20 May 2019. In July, I shared with you a recap of a session delivered by Gerd De Bruycker, Marketing Director, Northern Europe at Cisco Systems regarding ‘Connecting events with your overall marketing mix.’ This time, I want to discuss a summary of the panel session regarding innovation, online and offline events, destination selection criteria and measuring ROI. The panellists were Bob Bejan, General Manager Global Events at Microsoft, Gerd De Bruycker, Marketing Director, Northern Europe at Cisco Systems, Danielle Purfey, Executive Director, Events & Meetings at KPMG US and Nicola Wedge, Head of Events at Barclays UK. The session was moderated by Pádraic Gilligan and Patrick M. Delaney, managing partners at Soolnua.
I have been fully involved in the MICE industry since 2011. During this time, I have attended numerous business events. For not a single moment during these years has the thought of attending as an exhibitor myself crossed my mind.
Nine years on, and this exciting day has arrived. On 18 July 2019, I exhibited for the very first time at a leading industry event in Germany called MICE Branchentreff, which took place at Lake Starnberg and was organised by Illerhaus Marketing.
For those of you who have been following my business activities closely, you will know that next year I’m launching the first international Event Planners Talk conference, which will take place in the beautiful city of Bern, the Swiss capital. The event will be held from 27–30 August 2020 and will bring an innovative combination of content, venues and side programmes for delegates to learn in the most inspiring environment.