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.
The corona crisis has brought the industry together in a way we could have never imagined before. In the current climate, there are no borders and limits to how we can connect and interact with the industry online.
New online initiatives were born out of the crisis, such as the #eventprofstalk hackathon and #EventProfsTogetherAtHome, and this is just the beginning of a shift we’ll see growing in the coming years.
While there’s a shift happening as I write, on a recent MICE Exchange Instagram Live Episode with Sabrina Meyers from Hot Hospitality Exchange (you can follow us on Instagram @themiceblog and @hothospitalitye), we discussed the event industry’s fragmentation caused by geographic market segmentation.
The event industry consists of agencies, corporate events planners, freelancers, associations and so on. On the supplier side, there are DMCs, hotels, sales representation companies, destinations etc., and those are broken down further geographically. From an eagle-eye perspective, it’s usually agency and corporate, and from the supplier side, it’s hotels vs everything else, or alternatively seen as a stand-alone property or a service provider.
‘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.
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.