Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Smallest Stand at IMEX

Did you also pass by without knowing that it was the smallest stand at IMEX, at the entrance of Hall 8? One man, with one notebook computer, sat down behind an inconspicuous little stand, saying 'Restaurant Bookings by selected-restaurants.com'! I am grateful to Hilton de la Hunt (what a name, you could get rich with a name like that) because he gave me the right service at a critical time. From now on I will call him Dr. Hilton de la Hunt, the restaurant doctor. At Wednesday evening, a time when almost everybody at the fair had left for the gala dinner, I was still looking for a nice restaurant in Frankfurt to go to with my team. Hilton asked me: location? Interior? Taste? Price range? And before I knew it, he wrote the perfect answer to those questions on a note: Nizza am Main, of course with a view on the river! And good food. And it had a cheerful crew of Mediterranean boys. Because everyone was in a good mood - but also because we had to wait some time before our food arrived - we were even offered a bottle of Pinot Noir on the house. Hilton, I will book my restaurants with you again next year, but then it will be a Japanese restaurant, because I think I remember you telling me that you have a hidden treasure in your collection…

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Golden Calf (part 2)

I suppose that my blog entries on the Golden Calf will have to come in several episodes. A few messages ago I wrote about the painful moment in Brussels. Luckily, I could also experience a joyful moment later on, at the IMEX association day in Frankfurt. It was a good day. But… what did I hear there? A managing director - a man of distinction - of a major Paris-based association had received 37 invitations from several meeting suppliers for this event. Another form of worshipping, I thought.
And at one of the seminars, someone told that a president of an equally respectable association wanted to do an on-site inspection in a beautiful town. But he stipulated his conditions: it had to be for the whole family - four in total -, free business-class flight tickets and a free stay in a five-star hotel! So, someone who let others worship him!
In the transfer bus to the hotel I sat next to a respectable man and I told him the whole story again. 'Oh,' he said, 'I wouldn't be surprised if there are even stranger things going on. I can imagine there is some professor in the ambassador environment who says that his convention would fit perfectly in that city. And that he can do something about it. But then he adds that his car is broken-down…' Someone who knows his worshippers well, I guess? It's worth the consideration, if you don't bear in mind the moral values. And that will be the topic of the future: who will formulate an ethical code for associations?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Joëlle's Easter Greetings

I want to close the Easter holidays on a cheerful note - or with an Easter egg. Just before IMEX! I received the best cartoon with Easter greetings from a Belgian incentive lady who has many friends across the globe. Just see for yourself! Joëlle Gardin can often be very witty and sometimes even a bit mischievous. She always has a radiant smile and a cheerful provocative expression! That's why she's become an incentive specialist, I think. The last time I met her in a playful atmosphere was during the TEFAF fair in Maastricht. That's where I got to know Joëlle as an art-loving lady. TEFAF is the best art museum in the world and opens its doors only ten days a year. A great experience!

I would like to send my spring wishes to Joëlle by means of a painting. Whoever knows the name of the painter, will receive a golden Easter egg. If you think this is a hard task, I suggest you rotate your screen and look what you see then! A different painting?

To conclude, I give you my favourite spring picture: the twins at TEFAF. They look like they came straight out of a surrealistic movie by David Lynch. But no, they were real visitors. If you have the opportunity, you should come and visit the fair with me. There doesn't exist a better arts meeting, or should I call it an arts convention? As an incentive or convention organiser you might receive a present from the Maastricht Convention Bureau in 2008?

A Golden Calf Is Born

You may remember the Bible story the worship of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32). The golden calf represents the BLIND adoration of money - a sort of money fever. This fever broke out definitively 5 years ago in the worldwide Meetings Industry, which has become a multimillion dollar industry. Then the international associations were discovered. The association executives - who are the decision makers of big conventions - were spotted by the organisers of workshops, fairs, magazines and sales meetings. But this kind of blind adoration can have some painful consequences. For example last week (April 2nd and 3rd) there was another (expensive) worship ritual in Brussels. The altar was set up nicely in a hotel and the participants had paid a lot of money for one candle on the altar. Like the deeply religious worshippers we are, we all had big expectations, but we all went home, way too early, with tears in our eyes. The Golden Calf wasn't there. I think we have to start paying attention. Associations have developed into professional enterprises with their own decision making structure, which often is different than ours, and not commercial at all! We will have to learn to discover them in another way and respect them, because otherwise things will turn out badly in the meetings industry!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Feeling for paper

I’m a paper-sensitive person myself. By that I mean: I like paper − I like to feel it and I like to read from it. I’m a magazine man, after all! I am even inclined to print out a lot of the emails that come in, because I simply don’t like reading from a screen. I’m definitely not a born digital reader.

Until the day I launched my blog on the World Wide Meeting Web and my attention was drawn to a frequently used email message bottom line: ‘Please consider the environment before printing this email’. I’m more careful now. I’ve become more conscious about using paper, and that’s also why I’m very pleased with this issue’s contribution from ESAE in HeadQuarters 20, which is devoted entirely to the topic of what associations can do for the environment.

On the day that I wrote this Editorial, I also received a magazine (I had not known of it until that moment) from Renu Snehi. She’s the Editor of ‘Hotline’, the Rezidor Hotel Group employee magazine. And what do I see? Another green Nordic Ecolabel with the line: ‘Printed on paper produced without optical brightener or chlorine … and printed with vegetable inks.’ Along with the magazine, she had enclosed a supplement entitled: ‘Hotels Environment Action Month’ (HEAM), which talked about ‘responsible business’ and what 166 of the group’s hotels regularly do as environmental actions. The best practice examples! Initiatives like these deserve a feather in their cap.

Taking good care of the earth has become vitally important, and I think that the meetings industry has a large role to play in this. I’m already contributing with two things: the launch of a meetings blog; and, wherever I can, I add…
please consider the environment before printing this e-mail
... or better yet, keep reading Marcel's Meeting Memories

Monday, April 2, 2007

Anette's Kangaroo

It doesn't happen often that an invitation is really inviting or makes life more pleasant. Anette Palm of the newly started Conventions Australia has succeeded in attracting attention just before Easter. By regular mail I - as well as my colleagues and many others in the world - received a personalised Kangaroo from her. You all know that the Kangaroo is a famous icon in Australia. It symbolises the unique character of Australia and their bounding enthusiasm for visitors to their shores! I think Anette will welcome many visitors on Tuesday April 17th during the IMEX fair to announce the launch of Conventions Australia. All this thanks to the jumping Kangaroo. And thanks to the extraordinary initiative: 8 convention cities of Australia side with the logo of a continent! Anette, the plush kangaroo is proudly standing in the HeadQuarters’ office!