I attribute my career progression to the time I was living in London from 2011–2016. I had access to events, education and networking, all of which today also remain fundamental to my business operations. 2011 was the year that I got into events. I was doing an internship at an event agency in Munich when I found out that it is, in fact, possible to study for a full degree in event management. I became aware that Regent’s University London offered a scholarship competition requiring the submission of a research-based study on one of the topics suggested by them. I was awarded with a full scholarship for a BA in International Events Management, and being in London presented further opportunities to create content for my blog and network because the industry in London is highly concentrated, and there is always something going on. So, alongside my studies, I attended many events and covered them on my blog.
Since 2016, I have been based in Heidelberg, Germany. Despite being well connected with public transport to major cities in Germany and Europe, I attend events perhaps once a month rather than the 2–3 times per week I was used to in London. My business lifecycle has changed, and that doesn’t require me anymore to be at the centre of everything. Becoming established and connected in the industry means that a lot of work can be accomplished online, with necessary travel only for essential events and meetings.
Sabrina Meyers from Hot Hospitality Exchange and my co-host of The MICE Exchange, which we host weekly on Instagram, also has an international background and lived and worked in most of the exciting destinations around the world: Singapore, Sydney and London.
The MICE industry is being adaptive to the current situation involving live events not taking place in the next weeks, perhaps months, due to the global coronavirus outbreak. Therefore, event professionals are shifting educational content and networking to online channels.
Sabrina Meyers from Hot Hospitality Exchange and I had a discussion two weeks ago about ways to network and collaborate. Because we are not able to meet face to face right now, we think it’s important to keep in touch with each other and the industry. Out of this discussion, a new idea was born to initiate a weekly Instagram Live series called The MICE Exchange—a combination of our names The MICE Blog and Hot Hospitality Exchange. We’ll aim to do the live streams regularly and touch on current and trending topics or familiar topics from a fresh angle. On these episodes, we’ll be chatting about a new topic every week and invite you to join these discussions on Instagram (with write-ups available here).
To kick start the series, we decided to talk about TikTok for events. Yet unexplored territory for corporate events, both Sabrina and I see the potential and wanted to share our experience.
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.
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.