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The ultimate incentive experience A–Z: interview with Heidi Legein, Managing Director at The MICE Guru

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. 

Ideas for Maritime and City themed corporate team-building activities

Team-building activities are designed for group members to strengthen their relationships, improve communication and explore new ways of working together. A well-designed team-building programme can also reward employees and achieve company aims and objectives.

Are you looking for an innovative and exciting team-building activity to offer your staff members and clients in 2017?

The Maritime and City themed team-building packages developed by Trinity House in Tower Hill, are new and exciting products designed for groups looking to incorporate a strong messages and a team-building element into their corporate event, such as setting priorities, problem solving, decision making and teamwork.

5 top teambuilding activities for conferences on a budget

This is a guest blog post by Dale Parmenter, Group CEO at drp. drp is one of the longest established, trusted and uniquely integrated communication and production specialists, recognised for creating highly engaging internal, external and experiential communications, producing award winning live events and exhibitions, compelling film and video, intuitive digital solutions and visually striking design-led print. You can learn more about them here

Team building activities are an effective way for your team to connect, communicate and work together better. Although team building games are designed to be enjoyable and challenging, they also have to coincide with company aims and objectives. It is important to choose activities that are suitable and beneficial for the client, so before you start planning a team building event you must consider:

  • Why run a team building event?
  • What are your objectives and how will you achieve them?
  • What is the best structure to achieve those objectives?

With digital, production, and technology altering how team building is executed, we have decided to strip it right back to the basics. High quality team building activities don’t have to be expensive, or full of the latest gadgets. Below are some of our favourite simple, and easy team building activities that won’t break your bank account.

1. Towering Challenge

Number of Delegates: 12 + in teams of 3+ people.

Materials: newspapers/magazines, office tape, scissors, OR, garden canes and elastic bands. A one metre ruler for measuring up the towers.

Time: 20-30 minutes.

Location: This activity can be set up anywhere that has floor space, such as a hall.

Description: The challenge is to design and construct a model tower using only newspaper, tape, and scissors. The group must be split into teams of 3-5 people (depending on the size of the group). The teams will be given limited supplies and a time limit. The tower must be as tall as they can make it, but also stable enough to stand up for longer than 10 seconds. Everyone must cooperate in their teams to find novel ways to build a good tower. The tallest and most stable tower wins.

Objectives: Communication, teamwork, competition, limited resources, time management, planning, design, strong thought processing, and cooperation under a time limit.

Tower Challenge

2. Treasure Hunt

Number of Delegates: 20 – 1000.

Materials: Paper, pens, large outdoor or indoor space, and a map of the space you are carrying out the activity in.

Time: 1 to 3 hours.

Location: This activity can be set up anywhere, however, it works really well in an outdoor space.

Description: The aim of the treasure hunt is to discover a set number of items hidden across different areas of the location where the event is being held. In teams, and within a time limit, delegates must use clues and a map to work together to find all of the items. Treasure hunts test everything from organisation and leadership to good communication in a fun and competitive setting. There are many different versions that can be created, as it is a very versatile activity.

Objectives: Forward planning, team work, time management, problem solving, critical thinking, fun, and competition.

3. Produce a Video

Number of Delegates: 10 to 100, in team sizes of 5 to 10.

Materials: Variable – paper and pens, presentation screen, rely on your delegates to use their mobile phones or provide rented cameras / iPads.

Time: 1 hour to a full day.

Location: This activity can be set up anywhere.

Description: The task is to create a film with limited resources within their teams. Each team has to storyboard an idea before assigning roles such as director, script writer, actors, cameraman, and so on. The premise of the film can be established in relation to the client and their chosen objectives for the day. All teams showcase their films at the end of the time allocated by sending it to the presentation laptop via email. This activity exercises the ability to organise themselves as a team, plan, prepare, and create a video. It requires the group to delegate and organise themselves into different roles.

Objectives: Creativity, organisation, time management, innovation, team participation, budgeting, planning, communication, fun.

4. Water Pipe Challenge

Number of Delegates: 100 +

Materials: Plastic water piping from a DIY hardware store, and water.

Time: 30 mins +

Location: This activity can be set up anywhere, ideally outdoors as it can be messy!

Description: The group has to make a rigid watertight structure with the pipes, and by the end of the game the water should be able to travel inside the piping from one side of the room to the other. This challenge starts as a task for the individual, then a small team, before the whole group works as one unit. The event encourages delegates to understand how their actions affect a larger team.

Objectives: Communication, teamwork, organisation, lateral thinking, objective focus, competition, fun.

Water Pipe Challenge

5. Rocket Design

Number of Delegates: 10 +

Materials: 2ltre coke bottle (one per team), paper, glue, colouring pens, scissors, foot pump(s), coke bottle foot pump adapter.

Time: 30 mins to 1 hour.

Location: This activity can be set up anywhere, however, it is great outside.

Description: Using the materials provided the teams create rockets designed on company branding and values. The rockets must have the coke bottle attached facing downwards for launch. The rockets are judged on quality, presentation, and height/distance of flight. With a foot pump (and a coke bottle adapter), one member from each team has to foot pump air into the coke bottle to launch it from one side of the room to the other.

Objectives: Creativity, design, time management, lateral thinking, organisation, teamwork, competition, fun.

Rocket Challenge

Photos by drp

June special feature: incentive of the day

In events industry, incentives are the most exciting lifetime experiences you can create for your attendees. Most importantly, they create stronger relationships between team members, educate, inspire or just let you enjoy and have fun, celebrating company’s success.

Over the last couple of years I had the opportunity to attend and be part of incentive activities, or when I was on a holiday at a destination, examine the destination as an event planner and thought such place would be ideal for team building and incentives.

This June, I was happy to share with you some of the most memorable activities and destinations I came across over the past years. They vary from active, to lazy and more creative ones. In some I feature the destination as there is lots to see and do there.

I hope you enjoyed this feature on Instagram and Facebook and could get some new ideas for your next incentive. Below I list all the 30 again – all tested by me. Enjoy!

1 – The Culinary Ramble in Heidelberg by event & eventchen

Starting the feature with Culinary Ramble in Heidelberg by event & eventchen. It’s a three hours experience, combining a city tour, local drinks and stories and a three course menu in different restaurants. Great alternative for the traditional team dinner!

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2 – Cake decorating workshop with GC Couture

The workshop can be as short as one hour or a half day course with an afternoon tea break. We learned some basic decorating techniques such as roses, flowers, butterflies and fondant which are all super easy and fun! GC Couture are mobile and can do it at the location of choice, which can be ideal for corporate incentives and teambuilding. You’ll be surprised but it’s also very popular among men!I did this workshop twice and wouldn’t mind to do it again, who doesn’t like cake?? Until next time..

Photo credit to the wonderful Lisa from Together Forever Photography

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3 – Corporate away days at the Moonraker Hotel

I’m a big fan of incentives on the country side, to get away from the hectic London lifestyle and come back relaxed with fresh ideas. Back in 2014 I had the chance to visit the Moonraker Hotel near Bath (Used to be The Old Manor Hotel – but still with the same owner, and still under this name on my blog). They have 21 bedrooms and event space for up to about 85 delegates, so ideally can be exclusively hired.

They make their own gin and honey, grow herbs, offer smoking and curing courses with the chef and other outdoor activities. It’s a small family run hotel and has a very unique, cosy and traditionally British atmosphere.

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4 – Wine tasting at Château Soucherie

Long summer days call for long lunches and dinners, even better when it’s at a vineyard! One of the incentives that comes to mind is a wine tasting event at Château Soucherie on my trip to Angers, France. In two groups we had different activities involving blind tasting, smelling and some general knowledge (or guessing), followed by lunch and live music. Food and wine always bring people together to share common interests and easy to get everyone involved, even the ones who don’t drink – because real wine tasting is about tasting – not drinking.

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5 – Vietnamese cooking class with School of Wok

It’s now clear that this feature is going to showcase a lot of food. Food brings people together and easy to get everyone involved. This incentive is a Vietnamese cooking class with School of Wok (but they have almost all Asian cuisine to choose from). Be it a half day or a full day class – as the one I did, it’s great fun cooking together, learning new chopping and cooking techniques and eating together!

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6 – Current and future trends in incentive travel – Takeaways from SITE event

Incentive travel gives high achievers an experience of a lifetime, one that money can’t buy. Read this article about current and future trends in incentive travel, takeaways from SITE event.

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7 – Floral workshop with Jens Jakobsen from Floral Construction

At the floral workshop with Jens Jakobsen from Floral Construction at Four Seasons Canary Wharf he took us step by step and showed how to make roses bouquet, highly paying attention for details. Summer, being also a wedding season, is just the perfect time for such workshop with the team or best friends.

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8 – Helicopter transfer from Monaco to Nice Cote d’Azur International Airport

Monaco is easily accessible by car, bus, train AND helicopter from Nice Cote d’Azur International Airport. I bet helicopter is not the usual transfer your attendees are used to and can serve as a perfect incentive to create the ‘WOW’ effect and the views are stunning!

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9 – Danish Christmas celebration in Copenhagen

In December, on the first day of our fam trip in Copenhagen, we were surprised by Christmas themed dinner with games, entertainment and other surprised at Tivoli Congress Centre. It was very authentic, personal, unique and memorable experience!

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10 – Motivational speaker

In one of the blog articles “corporate hospitality in the new corporate world” I mentioned the rise of the young and affluent generation Y who are looking for corporate experience with a more relaxed atmosphere – instead of round tables, for example, look for a back stage with a celebrity, entrepreneur or an athlete. At the ISES Accelerate event I enjoyed listening to Caprice Bourret – an inspiring female entrepreneur who shared with us the ups and downs of her career in a very informal Q & A and I believe such short sessions are of great value for every conference or corporate hospitality agenda.

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11 – Introduction to falconry at Four Seasons Hampshire

Loved the introduction to falconry session at Four Seasons Hampshire where I learned about the different birds and could even feed them. These birds are fascinating. The whole experience takes about 15-20 minutes – so that can be done during a break between meetings or as part of other outdoor activities.

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12 – Cocktail making class

Meeting is like a cocktail and all ingredients have to fit together to create a unique and memorable experience! All groups were given the following instructions for creating a cocktail: find a name, what will you serve it in, participant involvement (how to drink it), great content and local inspiration. All groups came up with very creative ideas!

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13 – Visiting the Danes at their homes  

When organising an incentive – you want to make sure you’re getting the highest ROI. How to get higher ROI on incentives, and other events? The Danes developed the Meetovation, a meeting design concept and its primary aim is to create a better ROI on meetings through four pillars: active involvement, creative set-up, local inspiration and responsible thinking. Was great experience throughout the whole trip, visiting the different venues and being engages and active. Particularly remember visiting the locals at their homes – such a unique experience!

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14 – Corporate away days and golf in St. Andrews

St. Andrews, about two hours’ drive from Edinburgh is best known worldwide as Golfer’s Paradise and is a perfect destination for incentives. A stay there can be also well combined with a few days stay in Edinburgh. One of the popular hotels in St. Andrews is the Old Course Hotel Golf Resort & Spa with its own golf course.

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15 – Incentive destination Angers Loire Valley, France

Angers is the capital of the Anjou region and the fief of Cointreau, the famous liquor. Angers has universities and research centres which foster research and innovation in the region. At the same time the region offers incredible history, culture, viticulture and gastronomy experience – all you need for a tailored and memorable incentive program.

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16 – Watching football in Liverpool

When in Liverpool don’t miss on booking tickets for a football match. This game was Everton vs. Chelsea, great atmosphere at the stadium and my first time watching a game in the UK.

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17 – Incentive destination Cornwall

This coastal destination seemed to be a great for incentives and for all looking for a city escape with outdoor activities (I was there on holidays). Hiking and themed trails, cycling, breath-taking views, traditional fish & chips on the sea side, water activities and more – there’s so much more to explore. Until next time..

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18 – Incentive destination NewcastleGateshead

Continuing with incentive destinations and today looking at NewcastleGateshead. Newcastle and Gateshead are two opposite cities in North East England and lie on the river Tyne. Due to the proximity to each other and for marketing purposes, the destination is known and marketed worldwide as NewcastleGateshead. This destination, including the neighbouring Durham and Beamish, offers a variety of venues and activities to make it an attractive MICE destination where you can combine business with incentive activities. What I particularly remember when we visited it in 2012 is how friendly everyone was and this trip exceeded all my expectations!

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19 – Teambuilding around music at the Cavern Club in Liverpool

The Cavern Club in Liverpool is where the Beatles played in their early career. In my first trip to Liverpool in 2011 we had the unique opportunity to do a teambuilding activity around music, on the same stage Beatles played. We were also lucky to meet Dave Jones, the owner of the club and hear some legendary stories from the early days.

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20 – Swiss MICE Destination Brienz – Interlaken

Switzerland has some of the most beautiful lakes and mountains and each canton can offer a unique incentive experience. One of my favourite Swiss destinations is Brienz – Interlaken in canton Bern. If you plan an incentive in the region, I highly recommend considering the Brienz Rothorn Railway panoramic trip which goes to the top of the mountain and you can enjoy this breath-taking view!

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21 – Themed night at Château de la Perrière, France

Princess for a night in Angers. For the last night of our trip the organisers surprised us with a themed dinner & party in a French castle – Château de la Perrière with costumes waiting in our room. To date I think it’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had!

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22 – Highwire Adventure at Four Seasons Hampshire

Four Seasons Hampshire has an on-site Highwire Adventure including 24 element high ropes course, a 13 metre ‘Power Fan’ free-fall parachute experience and a 235 metre zip wire ‘The Descent’ that enables you to fly out across the parkland. It’s a good exercise for teambuilding and improving group dynamics, such as competing against other teams and when members supporting each other at different tasks. And the best part is that afterwards to can indulge in a spa experience which is open until 10pm.

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23 – Wine tasting events with Humble Grape

Humble Grape organise themed wine tasting events and recently run a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to open their own wine bar with focus on technology and user experience. The launch is scheduled for July and I’m sure it will be one of the most innovative and attractive venues for corporate bookings. #Eventprofs take note..

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24 – Société des Bains de Mer de Monaco (SBM) – a ‘one stop shop’ for MICE in Monaco

Société des Bains de Mer de Monaco (SBM) is a ‘one stop shop’ for MICE in Monaco and is a major player in the Monaco tourism, culture and entertainment industries. The group owns 4 hotels with a total of 834 rooms, 60 banqueting and conference rooms for up to 950 delegates, 33 restaurants and bars, 3 spas – including one of the largest in Europe, Beach Club – with Olympic pool and water sports, 23 tennis courts, 18-hole golf course overlooking the sea, 5 casinos and 2 night-clubs. Where to start?!?

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25 – Major sporting events 

Surprise your guests or employees with tickets for a major sporting event, such as the Olympics, Wimbledon or the upcoming Rugby World Cup, to mention a few. It’s so exciting watching the games, the great atmosphere and sharing historic moments together! Working at the Olympics was one of my career milestones.

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26 – Night hike in Christmas time

Christmas parties can be costly, hiring a venue, catering, entertainment, DJ… so I have an alternative for you. Two year ago in Germany I had the chance to experience a night hike, Fackelwanderung in German (on an individual basis though). The idea is the following: the guide meets the group at dark and provides the participants with a torch. Since it gets dark in the winter early anyway, around 6pm is a good time to start the hike. In order to see well in dark, the hike is in a forest or not populated area and as soon as you get to such area, you lit up the torch. The hike was not long, about 30-40 minutes and wasn´t difficult until we arrived to historic monument and the guide told us some anecdotes and stories and gave us Sambuca (to warm us up). Afterwards we headed to a local bar for get together and mulled wine. Great and original experience, and on a budget!

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27 – Meetovation handbook for icebreakers and energisers

Any team building activity needs to start with a good icebreaker! This handbook is my starting point for icebreakers, energisers, alternatives to one way communication and methods to improving knowledge sharing at events. Thank you Copenhagen Convention Bureau for this excellent training course never stop learning!

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28 – Swiss MICE Destination Engadin St. Moritz

Looking at MICE destination and today’s pick is Switzerland. Swiss MICE destinations can be classifies into three categories: Cities – such as Zürich, Geneva, mountain destinations/ resorts – such as Zermatt, Gstaad, St. Moritz and regions – such as Wallis or Lake Geneva. One of my favourite such destinations is St. Moritz, where I also studied tourism. In winter it’s a top ski destination with very exclusive events such as the White Turf (on picture) but there’s less going on in summer but then it’s great opportunity for outdoor team building activities and just enjoying the great weather and nature.

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29 – Incentive destination Malaysia

Was a very good experience visiting Malaysia back in 2012, combining a stay in Kuala Lumpur with seaside resort for few days and back to Kuala Lumpur for a conference. Good idea visiting in February when it’s freezing cold in Europe and enjoin the exceptional weather and food in this exotic destination. Lots of opportunities for active outdoor teambuilding activities or lazy relaxation on the beach.

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30 – The Lee Valley VeloPark for incentives, teambuilding, exhibitions and gala dinners

The Lee Valley VeloPark, previously known as the Velodrome, is probably the coolest venue in the Olympic Park. After the Olympic Games in 2012 it was rebranded and reopened to the public on 31st March 2014. It’s the first place in the world for track cycling, road racing and or mountain biking in one place and also an iconic venue to host team building or incentives, exhibitions and gala dinner events.

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That’s all for now. Hope you enjoyed this feature and got some ideas and inspiration for any future incentive activities and destinations. Incentives are the most fascinating part of event planning, focusing on building relationships and rewarding employees and customers. I’m glad that I could share with you some of the most memorable experiences and look forward to sharing with you more in the future – on the blog or here on social media!

Wine Tasting Events With Humble Grape

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If you follow me on Facebook and Instagram you may remember the wine tasting event I attended back in February. This event was organised and hosted by Humble Grape, wine and event company based in London. Founded in 2009 by James Dawson it has now an extended portfolio of unique wines imported from local, family owned vineyards from countries including Argentina, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, USA and new regions and wines are constantly being introduced.

I met Humble Grape at the Moulden Marketing Destination Workshop and was invited to experience their wine tasting event. The event I attended was one of their public events, Rhône Valley wine tasting and other upcoming events include Artisan Wine of South Africa, Wine Meets Tech, Burgundy and Italia Gran Turismo. The events take place about 2.5 hours at central London locations including The Haciendas Club and One Canada Square. I spent a very fun, relaxing, entertaining and educational evening and met fellow wine lovers. To accompany the wine Humble Grape served cheese, chorizo, Iberian ham, chorizo, almonds and olives.

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On the corporate side, Humble Grape has the capacity to host wine tasting events for groups from 10 to 300+ people. They offer a wide variety of event themes such as team building events with blind tasting, quizzes etc. and other topics such as “business of wine”, giving an inside look at the wine trade, including wine investment, value for money ratio and wine tourism.

Within this short period of time Humble Grape has established its brand name and decided to expand onto the high street wine business. Recently they launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £250,000 to open a wine bar and retail shop in/ near Shoreditch. When writing this post over 80% of investment has been already funded!

Last week I had the pleasure to attend their crowdfunding party in Level 39 One Canady Square in Canary Wharf. Investors, customers and friends came to congratulate and celebrate with Humble Grape team. The evening started with a talk of Jeff Lynn, CEO and Co-Founder of Seedrs, the crowdfunding platform and followed by a talk from James to tell more about Humble Grape. James shared facts and figures for investors, talked how the four elements Brand, Technology, Price and Product are key differentiators and talked about future expansion plans.

After the speeches everyone could taste three different wines and network. The wines which were picked for the evening were two French, Domaine André Bonhomme Viré-Clessé Vieilles Vignes, 2010, Mâconnais, Burgundy and Domaine Mathias Mâcon-Chaintré 2010 Burgundy and one Portuguese, Quinta de Saes Colheita Tinto, 2010, Dão. Myself and everyone I talked to just loved the Portuguese wine. I am definitely going to order it for my next event.

That was a fantastic evening with Humble Grape and supporters, good choice of venue and of course, good wines.

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