Friday, February 15, 2008

Tea Chat with Lady Jean

This year I was really pulled out of my hibernation by the voices of two charming ladies, whom I was very honored to meet in the beginning of 2008, however unbelievable this may sound to some people. Actually there where 3 ladies but I’ll come back on that later on. The first one was Preeti from Hyderabad in the South of India, but I already informed you about her.

And last week I was having tea with Jean Evans, Chief Executive of the Dublin Convention Bureau. For the occasion and because of the setting, I gave her the title of “Lady Jean”. Imagine the golden yellow armchairs, red and yellow tulips, Irish tea served in pure white Irish porcelain and the company of a lady who’s loved in the whole of Dublin because of her efforts to give the city an inviting destination appeal. And then I did not even mention the location: The Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin. What more could you want? And did you really think we were chatting about the fact that last year Lonely Planet proclaimed the Irish as the most friendly people of the entire world. No, we were talking about the construction of the new Convention Centre in Dublin, designed by the 80-year old Irish born architect Kevin Roche. The following quote describes him adequately: “The worst thing you could ever do is to retire”. I will act upon his advice in the literal sense. The opening of the Convention Centre Dublin is expected in 2010. I still hear Jean saying: “We are already waiting twenty years for this big moment. Everyone who even has the slightest connection with the meeting industry in Dublin is wildly enthusiastic about it.”
I can still hear myself thinking: “If only there were more cities that had such residents. Feeling happy because a new style of commodity exchange is built, this time not to trade goods but human intellect. A Brain Exchange Building!”

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Land of PCOs

I’ve been able to survive the European winter by going to the south of India around the turn of the year. It was heavenly warm over there around New Year. 28 degrees Celsius on average. In Hyderabad I was introduced to the Indian Meetings Industry for the first time in my life, more specifically, to the only Indian purpose-built convention centre and to a lovely meetings host. Her name is Preeti Sood. She’s marketing & communications manager at HICC, or Hyderabad International Conference Centre, where ICCA will hold its annual congress in 2010.
Preeti showed me the new airport that’s being built - a unique project - and the Novotel airport hotel that’s also under construction - her new working environment in 2008! And I’ve been travelling through the new Hightech City of Hyderabad for half a day. You don’t know what you’re looking at! But there’s one thing I can see: now I roughly know how India’s Meetings Industry of tomorrow will look like.
But I didn’t know that India had the largest number of PCOs. Everywhere at the side of the road they’re announced. ‘Look, there’s another one!’ Preeti kept on saying. ‘Where?’, I replied all the time. ‘There’, she kept on saying. And another one, another one and another one… Private Communication Office or Private Call Office! Nice try, Preeti!

Winter sleep

At the start of 2008 I’ve dreamt more about hibernating than ever before. Immediately I have to add that I live in Belgium, a country where winters are dull, grey, shivery, cold and often without snow, which makes the winter time even more frosty. I’ve been able to shake off that nasty feeling by thinking about squirrels, hedgehogs, hamsters and bats. During winter they retreat to their warm nests and holes and they keep sleeping until they set off for spring time, wide and awake. I’d actually prefer to be a dormouse (see photo) during winter, because he’s supposed to be the best hibernator. He sleeps long and deeply and only gets out of his nest when spring has fully begun. Unfortunately that kind of blessed sleep is not granted to human beings, at best a bit of a longer sleep by going to bed early and getting up late… Hereby I declare that my dream sleep is over and I’m back again with more warm stories about the meetings industry!