When the idea to stage an international, multi-day conference in Bern was born back in 2018, we didn’t know how things would turn out, and that we’d need to change our plans upside down. From a four-day live event format, the conference turned into an e-format and was live-streamed from Bern, Switzerland from 28–30 August 2020.
To gain insights and understanding of the global trends that will shape the future of the events industry, Rotterdam Partners Convention Bureau has launched a new series of hybrid events called The Rotterdam Experiment. It comprises seven ‘experiments’ that will take place on a bi-monthly basis, with each edition covering a new topic. These experiments will help event planners explore the topics of virtual reality (VR) technology, gaming and community building, imaginations and digital disruption, event health and safety, Big Data, Internet Of Things and mobility, architecture and storytelling and artificial intelligence (AI).
The first experiment took place on 3rd December 2020. It was entitled ‘Mixed Reality: Let’s Meet in VR!’. This experiment took place at Postillion Hotel & Convention Centre WTC Rotterdam and was moderated by Mirjam van de Kamp, Account Manager Convention Bureau at Rotterdam Partners. It offered both online and offline audiences a theoretical and practical glimpse into the world of mixed reality using VR technology.
To explore the future of the events industry and help event planners prepare for what it holds for the global events industry, Rotterdam Partners Convention Bureau has launched a new series of hybrid events called The Rotterdam Experiment, which comprises seven ‘experiments’ that will take place on a bi-monthly basis, and each edition will cover a new topic.
The COVID-19 crisis has brought our industry to an abrupt halt. It is necessary to explore and experiment with new event formats and seek creative solutions. But this is not enough; we also need to look more deeply into the global trends that involve technology, organisational structures, generational shifts, learning, values, leadership, etc. The entire world right now is in transformation, and businesses are being disrupted. We don’t know what the future holds, but through experimenting and the direction of Rotterdam futurist and bestselling author Yuri van Geest, we can educate and prepare ourselves, our businesses and organisations for the new normal.
The first experiment took place on 3rd December 2020 and was about ‘Mixed Reality: Let’s Meet in VR!’. The event took place at Postillion Hotel & Convention Centre WTC Rotterdam and was moderated by Mirjam van de Kamp, Account Manager Convention Bureau at Rotterdam Partners. It offered both online and offline audiences a theoretical and practical glimpse into the world of mixed reality using virtual reality (VR).
The event was divided into three parts: 1) a keynote by Yuri van Geest called ‘The global perspective for the path ahead’, 2) a VR demonstration by AltspaceVR and Q&A with VR expert Freek Teunen and 3) a table talk with event industry leaders who shared their experience from the past months leading their events and organisations as events moved into the virtual space. There were highly useful insights from Marjan van der Haar, managing director of International Film Festival Rotterdam, Carola van der Hoeff, who is the Chief Operating Officer and Congress Director at International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) and Kris Stabel, who works as a Senior Educationalist and Head of Educational Advice and Training at Risbo (Erasmus University Rotterdam).
At the beginning of October, I visited Pentahotel Leipzig. The hotel is part of the Penta Group, which has 27 hotels in Europe and Asia (Germany, Belgium, France, Austria, Czech Republic, United Kingdom and Russia), with further expansions planned in the next 2–3 years.
The history of Penta Hotels goes back to 1971 when it was founded as a joint venture of five airlines, providing accommodation for crew members to stay when on duty. The hotels were located in major airline hubs, guaranteeing high occupancy rates. In 1993, the chain was sold to a Honk Kong-based company—New World Development—and in 2007, the Hotel Group was completely relaunched as a boutique lifestyle brand.
The Leipzig property is the flagship hotel of the group in terms of size and volume, with 356 rooms and suites and 17 conference rooms for up to 600 people, making it the second-largest conference hotel in Leipzig.
Back in July, I hosted a week-long Instagram Live series with Heidi Legein, Managing Director at The MICE Guru, a destination management company (DMC) based in Norway. During the past months of the lockdown, Heidi has been actively promoting her destination and inspiring and educating fellow event professionals about Norway. She has also felt encouraged to keep thinking about international travel and ensure that events are still being planned, rather than cancelling them. Heidi has become the face of Norway for the international event community and, in addition to having substantial knowledge about her product, she processes significant industry expertise. I am, therefore, highly excited to share this interview with you.
The overall series was about ‘DMC: The new value proposition’. I interviewed Heidi about her role and work across various business areas of the DMC, beginning by defining its role, how to host virtual site inspections, how DMCs contribute to destination marketing, sustainability and incentives.
Incentives are, perhaps, the most exciting part of MICE travel and involve attendees having highly unique experiences at a destination. But what is an incentive?
According to Heidi, ‘Incentives stimulate investments to motivate and encourage someone to do something.’ There are different types of incentives. Heidi mostly does incentives for mid- to high-level management, which are often multi-destination experiences. The most common incentive is a 5-day-4-night programme, often at two different destinations within Norway. This programme offers several exciting experiences along the way and many surprises that guests may not necessarily know about beforehand, which makes it particularly exciting.
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