Friday, December 28, 2007

In 2007 I was impressed by: (part 2)

One conference got 9.2 out of 10 in 2007
Are congresses boring? Some are, the ones that are not organized properly. Where poor speakers are given a chance. In 2007, I have attended two fantastic conferences. And that means a lot, because a convention or conference has to be really good before I say: ‘This was a wonderful meeting’. Well, I’ve only had two of that standard this year: the IFLA (The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) opening session in Durban in August and the two-day Holland Association Symposium in Amsterdam in November. I even award Eric Bakermans and his team a little more than 9 out of 10. Not only did I enjoy this symposium, I really had a great time. And do you know what these two meetings had in common? Three things: excellent speakers, great debate leaders and ‘out of the box’ subjects!

Malaysian Etiquette People often say that all hotels and all conference centres are the same. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. I always say: nothing is the same. I discover new ideas and initiatives whenever and wherever I go! In Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre I noticed a little leaflet that told about ‘Malaysian Culture Protocol Etiquette’. Directors, Senior managers, staff of international organizations running events in Kuala Lumpur and organizers of all types of events can benefit from various workshops like ‘Business & Social Etiquette’, ‘To Know Malaysia’, ‘Royal Protocol & dignitaries’ etc. In my opinion, that’s a great initiative by a Convention Centre. And during my update walk through the Centre, I discovered a fully-equipped hospital room with a separate entrance. Where in the world and in which other congress centre can you still find that?
(to be continued)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

In 2007 I was impressed by: (part 1)

The oldest guide in the worldWhen I visited the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa halfway through 2007, I got the oldest guide in the world for one day. Thomas Rudolo is 81 years old, he is quick-witted, knows a lot of places, names and dates by heart as if he’s still a young student, and once in a while he says: ‘which year was that again, I’m getting old’. He drove me at 120km an hour to the Battlefields and the Midlands. Near Pietermaritsburg in Howick he made a pitstop. ‘At this place, Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1962. That was the beginning of his 27 year detention’. Thomas blinked away a tear and so did I. And we drove further through the hills with green farmlands... I’m still grateful to Syavayatours for letting me spend some time with the oldest guide in the world for one day.

A new profession in the meetings industry: Welcomer Can our industry still invent a new profession? I was convinced not. Until that day that the first Pullman hotel in ParisParis Rive Gauche – opened its doors, and I encountered a well-dressed young man with an orange tie. I hadn’t had the chance to report myself to the reception or he began to speak to me as if I was his personal guest. He reminded me of warm Asian hospitality on cool Parisian territory. I asked him about his function: ‘Welcomer,’ he replied very politely.

Girl with moon settingHotel visits can sometimes be a little bit annoying. Always the same dull stories about the number of hair driers in each room and which drinks are available in the minibar. Ugh! And then all of a sudden, this young trainee appears in front of me in the recently opened Hilton hotel in Reykjavik. Very confident she says: ‘in this conference room, 35 people can be seated in moon setting.’ - ‘What did you say,’ I ask again. ‘Moon setting,’ she repeats. ‘Who invented that,’ I inform. ‘I did,’ she says very convincing. Edda Hrund, I would like to compose a new conference jargon with you in 2008! Half-moon setting, full moon setting, first quarter setting and even meet in lunar eclipse! Down with all the dullness of theatre, school and all these tedious schoolish settings.

(to be continued)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A wish for 2008: a brain exercise

‘Too busy, no time’, those are the words I’ve heard most in 2007. And which remedy can I present to this problem for 2008?
Until recently everyone assumed that all people, regardless of their language or culture, visualize the past as ‘behind’ and the future as ‘ahead’. This would be linked to the human physiology - the eyes are located in the front of our head - and our way of moving - forwards and not backwards.
The Aymara Indians of the Andes have another notion of time. They picture the future as behind their back and the past as ahead of them. Can you imagine? I think they ‘re less bothered by ‘time flies’ or ‘I’m too busy’ like that.
That’s why I wish you this brain exercise in 2008.

Brazilian Greetings

Richard Lengsfeld, founder and director of B.I.T. (Brazilian Incentive & Tourism), based in Rio de Janeiro, sent me the Season’s greetings that left the most lasting impression on me. Just read his message, and you’ll know what I’m talking about:

Christmas in Rio

If you look at the world as a village with 100 inhabitants…

57 were Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 Americans and 8 Africans
70 were colored, 30 were white
70 were not Christians
89 were heterosexuals, 11 Homosexuals
6 people had 59% of all the wealth of this world
50 would depend from another person
1 would be dying
2 would be born
1 had a PC
1 had a Diploma

So, if you woke up healthy this morning, you are in a better situation than 1 million people that will die the next days.
If you never suffered of war and hunger, you are in a better situation than 500 million people today.
If you can go to a place to worship your religion without being stopped or risk to be killed for that, you are happier than 300 million people.
If you have food in the fridge, a roof over your head and you are dressed, you are better off than 75% of the population
If you have a Bank Account and some spare money on it, you are part of 8% of the rich.
If you can read these lines you are part of the happy few because
1. Somebody thinks about you
2. You are not part of the 1 billion people that cannot read
3. And… you have a PC!

There is no imminent conclusion in these lines, but maybe the guy is right who once said:
Work – as if you wouldn’t need the money
Dance – as if nobody was watching you
Sing – as if nobody was hearing you
Love – as if nobody ever hurt youLive – like in paradise

Friday, December 7, 2007

France awards me with a gold medal

I never really liked getting a medal. It makes me think too much of war veterans or soldiers who walk around with weights on their chest during ceremonies. Until the day that Maison de la France celebrated its 20 years of existence in Brussels. For the occasion, gold medals were awarded. I received La Médaille d’Or du Tourismefrom Mister Serge Mucetti, Consul General of France. Before that, Mister Thierry Baudier (in photo in the background), General Director of Maison de la France (Paris) and Mister Pascal Saint-Père, Director of Maison de la France (Brussels) had already expressed their appreciation of my journalistic articles on the French Meetings Industry that I have been publishing for many years now. An infrared ray of emotion went through my ribs when Pascale Saint-Père solemnly said: ‘Mister Marcel Vissers is the founder of the professional magazine MIM (Meeting & Incentive Media), which is the bench-mark in Belgium and Luxembourg for business tourism. This magazine has a circulation of 6,000 copies and reaches 10,000 readers. Every two months numerous articles are dedicated to France. And the Pan-European magazine HeadQuarters has published various special supplements on French convention cities: Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg, Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes…
‘In 2005 Mister Marcel Vissers received the prestigious ‘Belgian Meeting Industry Award’ from BAPCO (Belgian Association of Professional Conference Organisers).
‘For his prime contribution to the tourism sector on the one hand, and his valuable help for the promotion of France on the other (France has a 25% market share in business tourism), Mister Vissers deserves ‘la Médaille d’Or du Tourisme’.’
And I felt like a good schoolboy when the Consul General pinned on the gold on my collar.
What can I add to that myself? Just this:
‘It gave me much joy to put France on the Belgian and Luxembourg map as a meetings and incentive travel destination and for the last five years I’ve also awarded France a special place on the world map as international convention destination in HeadQuarters Magazine, because France is worth gold in the Meetings Industry. That’s why I’m so thrilled to receive this gold medal of La République Française. And I have a little something extra: a while ago I’ve written a small text about ‘l’Auberge’, the most beautiful French word I know. Maybe Maison de la France could be named Auberge de la France as well…’

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Hypersonic Santa

As a child, people made me believe that St Nicholas and Black Peter came from warm Spain. I stopped believing that a long time age because I’ve never seen St Nicholas walk around in shorts. Now someone is trying to trick me into believing the Saint’s residence lies in Lapland. That sounds better. But I’m mistaken, that should be Santa Claus because his official address is in Rovaniemi (Santa Claus Village). And now the Stockholm based consultancy bureau Sweco sent me a message about a hypersonic Santa Claus. A serious study shows that Santa has to travel at 5800 km/sec to deliver all presents around the world on time - which is within 48 hours. If he starts in Kirghizistan in Central Asia in opposite direction of the earth’s rotation, he has 34 microseconds for each visit. Come on, who still believes in Santa Claus? At that speed no one could be able to see him! That's why we only have a picture of him after his crash...

Monday, December 3, 2007

How to turn fair visitors into little children when Santa’s coming

Gadgets, they practically throw them at you when you visit a fair. But once in a while someone offers you a surprising one. We did the test and went out to find the most original gadgets at the EIBTM ’07 fair in Barcelona last week. Maybe we didn’t notice them all, but we had to choose from a legion of pens, lanyards and USB memory sticks - although we saw some interesting designs in that department, like the ones from Visit London (shaped like a credit card) and the Austrian Convention Bureau. Here is our top 3:
1. You might wonder, what’s so special about an umbrella? But this is not your ordinary umbrella. Holland sports its Fresh Dutch Views and this handy instrument that can withstand the power of a genuine storm is certainly the product of such a view. Students at the Delft University designed this product and Time Magazine included it in its list of the Best Inventions of the year 2007. The Netherlands Convention and Visitors Bureau handed out this storm-proof umbrella to the first 100 people who picked up their copy of the first issue of the Fresh Dutch Views Magazine. Eric Bakermans, Senior Project Co-ordinator Congress Acquisition at NBTC, is singing in the storm with his original Dutch umbrella.
2. We didn’t know that you could find the best Belgian chips in Liège. Pierre Alderson, co-ordinator of Liège Congrès, gave this plastic cone with the tricoloured and sweet fries to the people that sat at his table for a talk about the meeting possibilities in his favourite Belgian region. He was happy to pose for our camera with his original gift and with his MIM Magazine cover shoot in the background as well.
3. Usually, the last day at a fair brings nothing new but then I opened the Show Daily newspaper and saw the ad of the austrian business and convention network, which said there was a special Euro 2008 pack waiting at their stand for the first ten people who showed that same ad at the abcn booth. Unfortunately I was too late to be one of those first ten but the nice people at abcn were so kind to show me what that mysterious pack was. It contained a football shirt of the Austrian national team and a football, certainly something you can make the people at home happy with.