Friday, October 26, 2007

Who invented DMC?

It’s always been my dream to do something special for DMCs! But I don’t know what exactly. Do you even remember who came up with this name? Destination Management Companies. And what do these people actually do? EUROMIC has sent me a nice text about the sore point ‘de-intermediarisation’. Are DMCs and professional conference and incentive organisers even necessary? Can’t a corporate client just do everything by himself? In the cover interview for the upcoming MIM 95 magazine, Christophe Verstraete, SITE Belux Chapter President and Executive Director EUROMIC takes a strong stand. Definitely worth reading! But I also owe you a lesson Meetings & Incentive History. In 1982 EUROMIC’s Swedish member – Tom Risbecker – came up with the word DMC. He wanted to distinguish the function of its members from those of ‘Ground Service Operators (tourism). The Destination Management Company specifically aimed to serve the new – not yet named – Meetings Industry. So it all began in Sweden. Couldn’t there be an annual Nobel prize or Risbecker prize for DMCs? And who knows where the term Convention Bureau was invented? But that’s for another history lesson.

Indian Puja in Brussels

Just look how closely and respectfully an Indian man and a Belgian woman greet each other. The man is Naresh Goyal, number 36 on the Forbes list of the richest Indians and the (young) lady is Freya Van den Bossche, number two in the Belgian political scene, or (retiring) Vice Prime Minister. Mister Goyal called Freya the most beautiful female minister he’s ever met. I can imagine. And what would Freya have thought when she was shaking hands with Naresh this week for the opening of the world’s most luxurious airport lounge? By that I mean Jet Airways’s lounge in Brussels Airport, the airline of which mister Goyal is the founder and chairman, or rather the owner. I think she must have thought: ‘Oh God (or Vishnu), that Naresh really is a roguish, fun business dad!’ That’s what I think. During the press conference I was poised on the edge of my seat twice. Once for the ritual blessing by a Hindu priest (see photo). I have resolved to find out more about Puja, because that’s how they call this blessing. And the second time I didn’t only spring to my feet, but my ears were burning as well. In his speech Naresh was telling that there are 30,000 wealthy Indians and 300,000 upper-middle class people. Meanwhile, I’ve learnt that India has one billion citizens since May 11, 2000 at 8:44 AM. In the meantime that number has grown to 1,051,000,000. What potency and what economical power! Now I understand Naresh’s vision: creating a global Indian brand. And Brussels is also reaping the Indian fruits because Jet Airways’s hub is Brussels. I can hear Bernard Guisset and Michel Van Caster saying: ‘That orange-blue bird is already perching on Brussels ground six times a week now. And it keeps on going!’ A fun detail: Naresh started out as a help in a travel agency!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Just your regular autumn day last week in London. People are dressed according to the weather: grey, dull, sad and incredibly hurried. Luckily I wasn't prepared for rain so I was wearing my Indian Summer costume for the occasion. And the second happy moment comes from Sue Etherington (middle), international sales manager of the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre. For the Master Class of John Graham IV (right) she had picked two sky blue conference suites with a lovely view on the Westminster Area. For the first time in my life I saw two presidents of two continents who treat each other as equals, heartily and respectfully: Luc Maene (left), president of ESAE (European Society of Association Executives) and John Graham IV, CEO and president of ASAE (American Society of Association Executives). John was invited to give a Master Class on ‘Adapting to the new Leadership Imperative’ for an exquisite group of European Association Executives. It didn't take long before the entire room was all ears for 'What Remarkable Associations Do That others Don’t'. An exposé based on the book 7 Measures of Success, published by ASAE. Everyone was full of praise afterwards. The listeners got to know John as a CEO, more accurately, as a Broker of Ideas. But also as a scouts boy - John used to be very active in the Boy Scouts of America - who loves ‘Great People and Great Ideas’. And little sister ESAE can use the latter very well: ideas to grow. By means of his Master class, John has coloured the day permanently warm for me. And I think that after ESAE's Board Meeting - of which John and Susan Sarfati form part now - a few ESAE people started dreaming. Luc Maene dreamt of an ESAE with 23,000 members and an annual budget of 40 million dollar, and Rachel Frankel of ESAE secretariat dreamt of a 2008 ESAE Congress in Brussels with 1/100th participants of a normal ASAE Congress in Washington. I don't dream. I merely hope that John repeats his Master Class in Brussels (16-17 January 2008). European and International Association Executives, mark your calenders for the ESAE Annual Congress: Working together in Partnership. Don't miss it!

My Stay With The Zulus

A few of my loyal blog readers know I went to stay with the Zulus for a few days in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. Yes, that's true. And they absolutely want me to write about it because their fantasy world ran wild. I even heard something about the adventures of Tintin with The Great King Shaka Zulu. I'll tell you about my experiences.
I was in Durban for a good cause, to attend the opening of the 73rd IFLA General Conference and Council in the new ICC Durban Arena. One of the world's most impressive new convention facilities. It was Nadine Williams of Durban Africa and Linda Ngcipe of Tourism KwaZulul-Natal who convinced me to travel to the north of the province for a few days after the congress to visit Shakaland, among other things. The Zulus make up the largest community in South Africa and nowhere else in the country is a traditional culture as pronounced as it is in this region.
Do you remember the TV series 'Shaka Zulu' from 1984 that was filmed here? In Shakaland you can still see the set and witness demonstrations of traditional Zulu custums. Initially I thought 'another typical tourist attraction', which it is, but the director of Shakaland Protea Hotel made me change my mind. He had something in store for me: a new programme for incentive groups. A Shakaland Teambuilding programme, completely customizable, under the watchful eye of the village chief (photo right). I've learnt how to seduce young water carying Zulu girls, but a lot more than that. Umlabalaba: an ancient Zulu strategy game whose team members themselves become the ‘pawns’… Trust your instincts: a blindfold game born of hunters having to make judgments in pitch darkness… Running rabbit: a hunting game that requires judgments to spear a moving ‘mock rabbit’ running down a hill… and a lot more. And believe me, I didn't hit a single rabbit! But I kinda felt like I was in heaven. After all, Zulu means 'heaven'.