I want to introduce a new topic on the blog that I haven’t touched upon extensively until now, despite it being a significant industry within the MICE sector. Only in Germany, it accounts for approximately 639 million Euros spent in 2018 for research, congresses and events and supporting services for advanced training and lectures (according to Transparenzkodex 2018). These events are subject to strict compliance regulations.
This is the pharmaceutical industry.
Before I share with you some insights from the Pharma Fortbildungs-Forum, which I attended on 4 December 2019 in Mainz, I wish to provide an introduction to the Pharma Codex, which is a guideline for pharmaceutical events. According to the definition on the Aids Conference 2018 website, ‘All interactions between European pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals are governed by EU Directive 2001/83/EC. This directive establishes a code of conduct that regulates the relationship between industry and healthcare professionals.’ The definition continues with a focus on the Dutch legislation, in conjunction with the AIDS congress that took place in 2018 in Amsterdam, ‘In the Netherlands, the EU regulations are applied by the Dutch Foundation for the Code of Pharmaceutical Advertising. It defines what is considered to be drug advertising and who can be exposed to drug promotion.’
Each county has its own code of conduct, and the organisers need to respect this code when it comes to advertising.
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.
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.
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.