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Now is the time to rethink and restart the events industry: Interview with Angeles Moreno, Managing Partner at the Creative Dots

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. 

MICE at ITB Berlin


Presumably the biggest travel trade show in the world, The ITB Berlin took place from 8-12 March in Berlin. Being known for mainly leisure industry, there is also a MICE niche emerging. SITE Germany event took place on Monday, the ITB Berlin MICE Day on Tuesday and several destinations had their representatives from the Convention Bureau to take meetings. Additionally, I met colleagues from the MICE industry. Is there a new trend emerging, where leisure and MICE merge into one trade show?

Before I come back to this question, let me tell you more about my experience in Berlin and ITB.

What #eventprofs can learn from past recessions

Can we save ourselves from the next recession? That was the topic of discussion of the latest Event Huddle event I attended. Moderated by Kevin Jackson, Director of Ideas and Innovation at The Experience Is The Marketing the panel consisted of experienced industry leaders who’ve been through at least one recession and came to share their experience with us: Mike Kershaw, Senior Partner at Kershaw Partners, John Fisher, Managing Director of The FMI Group, Dale Parmenter, Founder and Group CEO of drp and Philip Hughes, creative director and producer at The Ice Box.

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The discussion kicked off with the question “can we save ourselves from the next recession, have we learned the lessons of 2008?”

Unfortunately, the event industry is not in control of the decision to have an event, it’s the client who makes this decision. Therefore, the focus should be on shouting out the value of events to the UK. What we’ve seen in the past is that the media gave bad image to events, so clients didn’t want to be seen spending money on events and branding. Events are not a waste of money, they are spend and if another recession hits, event planners should shout out in the media why events matter, the value they bring and justify the effectiveness of what they do.

Certain sectors didn’t get affected by recession, especially the consumer brands, they continued doing things but became more discrete about how they spend money. Recession proof industries include drinks, festivals, technology, Christmas parties, Annual General Meetings (AGM), venue finding, associations, charities, grocery trade and internal communications.

Regardless the industry, if you want to be a recession proof business you have to be faster than a client can be. Also you can offer “menu costing” to clients, e.g. – take out single items from the event rather than offering per person packages. If a recession hits, it’s also advisable to explore new markets and let go of old products.

What #eventprofs can learn from past recessions is that checking numbers and cash flows is key as well as keeping good staff. Also being pro-active on sales is important. When times are good event companies can make business walk out the door and forget about sales and being pro-active. Sales process should be pro-active and reactive at all times.

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To conclude, we have to do more as an industry to show the true value of events to our corporate clients because when times are good event planners become complacent and stop promoting the value of events. Associations and big agencies should take the lead in promoting this agenda by educating the clients through seminars or giving a tool box to smaller agencies and suppliers who can go to clients and spread the word. If we work together as a sector everyone in the events industry can benefit.

All panelists agreed that we are not doing enough as a sector at the moment to promote the value of events to corporate clients. We can do more by asking the right questions to understand what the clients want, what they are trying to achieve and what their objectives are. They also touched on the topic of procurement and the challenge of approving the event budget with them. Planners should educate the procurement about the value of events and that can be done by running round tables, presenting to them that buying events and creative services requires a different skills set than buying products.

The full session is also available online.

Three Unique Venues in Angers Area

I have the impression that when the event takes place over couple of days, the second day is always the best one. Maybe because group members know each other better, more familiar with the environment and more relaxed. The second day in Angers got already better for me, maybe also because I didn’t have to wake up at 4am, and I was looking forward for new discoveries. The day was packed with site visits and activities which I’m very happy to share with you in this post. So grab a cup of coffee and get ready to be inspired by some incredible and unique venues in Angers region.

The first venue we visited was Terra Botanica. As mentioned in my first post about Angers, one of the main regional industries is plant and Terra Botanica is the first ever theme park dedicated to plants and it’s open only since April 2010. The park is designed for leisure and business groups and we did one of the educational tours which we concluded with a fun activity.

At first we did the “Great Explorations” activity where we watched a short 3D movie letting us to experience the crossing of the Atlantic in search of the New World, taking us through sea life and sailing through violent ocean storms. The staging concluded with “disembarking“ in South America, to discover all the rich plantations. Our tour guide took us on a real journey, explaining us about the different plants, what they are used for, their attributes and flavours. For someone who doesn’t have any background in plant, like me, it was a very informative and interesting tour. We concluded the tour with fun group activity and made delicious, non-alcoholic cocktails from all the exotic ingredients we heard about during the tour. The activity was so simple I really liked it. Sometimes event managers like to complicate things, make it more sophisticated. But really, simple works just fine and it was a good one!

Terra Botanica has also its own event facilities, the business centre. I like the venue because it’s very “green”, meaning it’s both environmentally friendly and has vegetation surrounding the event facilities. If the weather allows, there is also a possibility to conduct meetings outside.

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From there we headed to the second vineyard venue Château Soucherie. We had light lunch and started the wine tasting activity strait away. I did some wine tastings before, but that was my favourite one. First of all, what really differentiated this wine tasting from the other ones, is that it was wine tasting, not drinking. During the two hours we were there we tasted only 2 wines and the rest discussed flavours, regions, did blind tasting and really learned about the wine. One takeaway from this was, if you’re planning a wine tasting event for your group, make sure it’s a wine tasting, not drinking. If you want to present different wines to your attendees to drink, then call it wine & cheese evening, French wines evening or alike. Savvy attendees will appreciate it. To conclude our activity we opened a bottle of Prosecco with a knife, a common French tradition called Sabrage and usually used for celebrations. We were lucky to be there on the day because it was also an open day for the venue and they had live jazz music on the terrace. That was such a perfect day, with blue sky and good wine. Couldn’t ask for more. Though it did get better.

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From there we headed to Château de Brissac, the tallest castle in France. Till now I visited several castles and always had different experiences. One castle had too many regulations to host events, another felt too ‘cold’ to host an event there (both not in France though), so it’s still an area I have to learn more about and explore. This time I had completely new experience, and I tell you why – The Brissac family still lives there! They live on the upper floor, so of course we were not allowed there, but the place does feel like as someone, royal, lives there and it gives a certain warmth, respect and admiration to this place. Just the thought of knowing you are in someone’s “house” gives a completely different, warm, feeling. We had an excellent guide who showed us around everywhere she could and she knew everything about all the generations of the Brissac family. The castle is also rented for exclusive events. I was very curious about the aspect, how a family can live there and accept tourists during the day? The guide explained that they have to accept it in order to maintain the castle, which is obviously very expensive. That was very impressive, completely new experience to visit a residential castle, I liked it.

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I hope you enjoyed it and were inspired by some of the venues and the stories. The next post will be about a super unique venue where we had dinner, so stay tuned and visit the blog soon for updates!! Have a fabulous weekend!

Photos by: Irina Trofimovskaya

Expert interview with Dr. Christian Coppeneur-Gülz, managing director of WWM Group

Dr. Christian Coppeneur-Gülz is the managing director of the WWM Group, today a leading provider of event and marketing solutions for B2B customers in Germany. The following interview gives an overview about his innovative business model myWWM, industry insights and some takeaways for entrepreneurs.

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The WWM Group is a leading provider of event and marketing solutions for companies from all industries based in Germany but which operates internationally. In 2005 the WWM Group had three main business areas: mobile presentation systems, exhibition stand constructions and digital print. After analysing market trends in different industries Christian Coppeneur-Gülz came up with a new business model, myWWM.

How did it all start?

My family was already in the exhibition business. We were a market leader in Germany in producing pop-up-displays. After graduating from WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management I decided to continue and make a PhD at the chair of Information Systems and Information Management (Wirtschaftsinformatik und Informationsmanagement), at the same time I worked part-time at the family business, where I could implement my research. That was when I came up with the idea of myWWM.

What is myWWM?

myWWM is an innovative business model which helps firms to facilitate their exhibition appearance. Instead of selling mobile presentation systems, we provide our customers with free of charge presentation systems. It may sound strange, but myWWM clients only pay for their individual graphics, which reduces their investment cost by 50%. In addition, we take over the storage of all marketing material and release the customers from all the related logistics. We offer our clients to set up their exhibition booths all over Europe for a fixed price. To that we make sure that damaged equipment is quickly fixed or replaced, the related costs are covered by our own insurance.

The myWWM software constitutes the core of the myWWM solution. It allows the coordination of all above mentioned processes online via the myWWM platform. Whenever a client is interested in myWWM, we offer the decision makers an extensive analysis and consultancy for continuous optimisation of their marketing processes.

What were the difficulties when you introduced the new concept?

In the beginning we had to convince our existing clients of our new business model, so we offered them to try it for free – we transferred their business to the new platform. Secondly, it was challenging inside the organisation, because the employees were still convinced about the old model. Today the business model speaks for itself.

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Today more and more companies host virtual exhibitions. Do you see it as a threat to your business?

No, and there are two reasons for that. Firstly, especially in B2B, long term relationships matter. People are in daily contact via email, phone or social media, and once in a while they meet face to face because meeting business partners in person strengthens the relationship and builds trust. In my opinion digital communication accompanies face to face meetings but does not replace them.

Secondly, there is a growing trend towards smaller exhibitions which are more targeted at the individual needs. To attend these kinds of events people are still very willing to invest time and money.

Besides the trend of smaller and targeted exhibitions, what other trends do you see?

Exhibitions become tactical, as opposed to strategic. Tactical means that customers book exhibitions more short term and the frequency of exhibitions increases. Customer behaviour is changing. At the WWM Group we recognise this trend by seeing booking lead time goes from three month to three days to which we are also responsive.

How do you incorporate sustainability in your business model?

In the traditional process, the customer has to contract several suppliers such as stand manufacturers, furniture suppliers, brochures/ print agency, technicians etc. At the end of the exhibition all this equipment has to be shipped back to the individual providers or thrown away. With myWWM we provide the customer with everything he needs and when the event is over we store it at our own logistics centre until it is needed again. That makes only one transaction and reduces the environmental footprint. In addition to that, when booking via our website, the customer can check the environmental footprint caused by the shipment. This transparency enables the customer to participate actively in the process.

What are the plans for the future?

By 2015 myWWM wants to be a market leader in three industries, recruiting, finance and healthcare.

Can you share from your entrepreneurial experience?

From my experience, in big companies you cannot implement your own ideas as in small companies but on the other side the private price is bigger.

Regarding small companies the competitive environment is not as tough as amongst big companies. Thus, if you are successful it will be quickly recognised.

It is important to build up relationships; people are always an important key factor in any business.

And last but not least, every industry is sexy. You can find opportunities in any business niche and become successful.

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