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).
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.
Angeles Moreno is the founder of the Creative Dots, a company that helps corporations design their customer journey and create a culture of customer-centricity. Angeles has been in the events industry for over 30 years and possesses international experience with a large network.
Entrepreneurship is in her DNA. She has launched and run two companies during past crises and was able to overcome the obstacles they presented to her. Now running her third company, she is faced with a new crisis—COVID-19—which has unique components. But her previous experience has prepared her to navigate through the uncertainty.
I interviewed Angeles about her industry experience, specifically going through the uncertainty faced in the past, and I asked what event professionals should do now to remain resilient and come out stronger from this crisis.
‘There’s going to be a new normal. We’re not going to go back. It’s impossible to return to where we were; we’ve all changed, and the world has also changed.’ Kevin Jackson.
Kevin Jackson is the founder of The Experience is The Marketing and one of the most influential people in the events industry. He was working in the advertising industry during the 1987 crash and in the events industry during the financial crisis of 2007. Having gone through two major crises and established an impressive international career working with top global brands and building businesses, I immediately reached out to him to seek advice on how to navigate through the current uncertainty.
I have known Kevin for a number of years and highly value and respect his fresh and forward-looking perspective. His practical approach to business, which is based on many years of experience in advertising and events, is always spot on and can help businesses of all sizes. This time, the interview also brought a new perspective and a light of positivity during the current pandemic, with many important takeaways for events agencies to action upon. The complete interview from 15 April 2020 is provided below.
This year, I was supposed to host the first International MICE Forum at ITB Berlin, but unfortunately, it was cancelled. The announcement came on 28 February 2020, just a few days before the trade show was due to open to international visitors. According to the official statement on the ITB Berlin website, the event was cancelled ‘due to the rapid spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Economics have stated their opinion that ITB Berlin be cancelled.’
When an adverse situation develops, opportunities often arise. Within a few days, ITB Berlin came up with a solution to offer a ‘Virtual Convention’ where planned talks can be recorded (whether live or online) and uploaded onto the new website of the virtual convention.
The MICE programme at ITB Berlin was organised by the Verband der Veranstaltungsorganisatoren e.V., the largest event association in Germany. Following the event cancellation, they reacted rapidly to host a small event on 5 March at the International Club Berlin, which was initially booked for the MICE Night. This session brought together industry leaders to discuss crisis management, share experience and possible solutions.
I was in Berlin to attend this event. One of the International MICE Forum panellists—Han Talbot, Project Manager at Traverse—travelled to Berlin despite the event’s cancellation. Being both in Berlin, we arranged to meet and record this session about ‘Influencer events: from creating instagrammable moments to delivering ROI.’ On 6 March, we met at the highly ‘instagrammable’ hotel niu Hide to record our meeting, and I’m delighted to share with you this insightful interview about influencer marketing.