I met Melissa Critchley while working for the Event Marketing Association (EMA) in 2015 in London. At this time, she worked as an in-house event manager at one of the leading global law firms in London. Later on, I also had the pleasure of welcoming Melissa as a speaker at the Event Planners Talk event in 2016 about ‘buyer and supplier relationship — the decision-making process’. Since then, Melissa and I have stayed in a good relationship and follow each other’s career journeys around the world. When I moved to Heidelberg, and Melissa to New York almost two year ago, both of our careers took a new turn.
Looking back at my own career, I aspired to work as an in-house event planner in the financial or legal sector. But if you are new to the events industry, as I was back then, with little experience and no network, it’s very hard to set foot into the corporate event planning world because these jobs are rarely advertised, and a lot of it goes by word of mouth. After unsuccessful attempts to find such a job in the corporate event planning sector I just gave up, and by the time I figured out who’s who in the events industry, I decided to continue to work on this blog. That’s why I want to share this interview with you today about the exciting world of corporate event planning. That if you are reading this, and no matter what stage of your career you are in right now, it will be a useful guide and hopefully provide you with hints and tips about where to start. And if you already have this dream job, it will inspire you with new ideas, based on Melissa’s over 12 years’ experience in the corporate event world.
Melissa’s experience is international and she knows how to network like a pro. Since moving from the UK back to the US, she transitioned from in-house to the agency side, so I also asked her what the main differences are between these two geographic markets and between the in-house and agency roles. Melissa’s journey is very exciting, and she’s very active and knowledgeable at quickly adapting to new situations and progressing her career. I’m very excited to share this interview with you because it contains valuable information about career progression, trends and good business advice.
I’m sure that many of you have met Pauline Kwasniak, the Founder and CEO of TurnedSee, at one of the industry events, and if not face to face, then online. She is the queen of video on Facebook, and a true leader for encouraging the use of technology in the events industry. Hence, it is not a surprise that I first started chatting with Pauline on Twitter; we then met at IMEX Frankfurt this year, and keep in touch on social media to exchange knowledge and ideas. Her company TurnedSee connects corporate buyers with suppliers on the digital platform that she is currently developing, to help make the event planning process smoother. She is also a digital industry influencer who works with hotels and destinations and helps them connect with their target audience.
Previously, Pauline worked on the agency side, and as a millennial, she understood that there’s a gap in the market for a better venue sourcing experience. Being a target market herself back then, she felt that the current process is not good enough, and not sufficiently fast. She therefore realised that she needs to develop a platform that will fix this.
Pauline is also one of our speakers for next week’s collaborative Event Planners Talk and Future in 15 event at Allianz Park ‘Is the DMC dead’, joining us remotely via a conference call from Derry. Her mindset for innovation in technology, international experience and entrepreneurial spirit are contagious, and despite not being able to physically attend the live event, she has a very strong online presence that will make for a very interesting interactive video conference during the panel discussion.
This November, I’ll be giving a keynote Q & A at the mbt Meetingplace in Frankfurt (20th of November) and Munich (27th of November) regarding a highly popular topic in the MICE industry: influencer marketing. Consumer brands use influencers to tap into their target audience, usually the young and tech-savvy demographics, but the MICE industry has been slower to adapt. To prepare for the talks in November and give you a little teaser, I was interviewed by Michael Heipel on behalf of the mbt Meetingplace regarding the topic. It was a Facebook live interview in German, so here I provide you with an English translation of our Q & A. I couldn’t resist and added a few more comments to the original interview!
In some industries, influencers can no longer be avoided in order to reach target groups. What is the situation in the MICE industry?
In general, event suppliers (convention bureaux, venues, DMCs etc.) can also reach their relevant target audience of buyers in the MICE industry without influencer marketing, for example through Hosted Buyer Programs and Familiarisation (FAM) Trips. However, adding influencer marketing can help the suppliers reach larger audiences and generate higher revenue in the longer term. Additionally, influencer marketing in the MICE industry can strengthen the message and is a great way to complement traditional sales and marketing channels, such as the two mentioned above. By integrating influencers’ pre -, during and post online event coverage, it can help the brand extend event duration and event life cycle.
Very important is also to look at the demographic side, as more and more younger people spend time on social media. For example, according to my analytics, 46% of my Instagram followers are between 25 and 34 years old. This is a very important audience that will be among the decision-makers in the next few years. Hosted Buyer Programs and FAM Trips will continue to exist. However, people will discover a destination or an event first via the online channels, and by being present online, influencers can create a desire to travel to or attend an event already early on.
I met Natallia Zaremba when she worked for one of the luxury independent hotels in Switzerland, and we immediately found a common language. She is a multilingual, well-travelled and experienced tourism and hospitality professional who knows very well the intricacies of both the leisure and MICE markets. After a successful career in chain and independent hotels in Europe, she decided to launch her own business, Zaremba Consulting GmbH, now based out of Zurich, working with decision-makers and business leaders to help them grow their business and improve the bottom line. Her well-rounded and international experience makes her the right person to discuss challenging business topics, such as the one we’ll base our event on in London on 31 October entitled: ‘Is the DMC dead?’. We wanted to have Natallia join us in London, but unfortunately, she can’t make it on this occasion, so I scheduled a call with her instead on Instagram, where we even went ‘live’ for the interview.
Getting strait to the point, I asked her: Is the DMC dead? To which she responded with a straightforward ‘no’ because we will always need local expertise, and it doesn’t matter how we are going to refer to them: a DMC, local agents or hotels as well as connoisseurs of the destination. However, the examples she provided later in the interview were particularly enlightening, so if you are also interested in how to innovate your current business and offer more value to your clients, regardless of whether you are a DMC, event agency or hotel, keep reading.
The next collaborative event between Event Planners Talk and Future in 15 will take place on 31 October 2018 at Allianz Park in London. The tongue-in-cheek event title for this Halloween day is ‘Is the DMC dead’; the event will offer a critical discussion regarding the fast-changing business environment and technological advancements that threaten the current business model of Destination Management Companies.
Event speakers are Martin Ellis, Managing Director at Team Umbrella Limited, Pauline Kwasniak, CEO at TurnedSee who will join remotely from Copenhagen, James Dowson, Managing Partner at The DMC Advantage and David Lovett-Hume, CEO at Asemblr.