Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The hardest worker at IMEX

Who worked the hardest at the last IMEX fair in Frankfurt? Who do you think? I strolled past the stand of Cycle Europe 2008 a few times and for two days in a row I was confronted with a strapping young man who was riding his bum off on a bike. His name has an Italian ring to it but I assure you he’s pure Scottish. He has the body of a young muscular lion and according to my psychological instinct he has a heart of gold. On the last day of the fair I went to ask him how far he’d actually got. Panting and sweaty he told me: ‘I… I… pffeew… think I’m in the neighbourhood of Amsterdam.’

In those two days he’d travelled 140 km. And all this for charity! Marco Barcella works for a charity organisation and in June he’s going to cycle in total a distance of 4800 km through 9 countries in 13 weeks, all this by initiative of Jon Bradshaw – also an Adonis type but a good cyclist too and he’s the Sales Manager of IMEX. The aim of this grueling physical challenge is to raise 20,000 pounds for stroke charities throughout Europe that fund the physical and mental rehabilitation of younger stroke victims. I told Jon, because he’s the leader, that he has to come to Antwerp after his visit to Amsterdam, to come and pick up another little cycling wonder, my Editorial Officer Steven Kins (see picture on the right). Jon, you have gained a new sponsor: HQ Magazine! And to whoever's reading this: go to the Cycle Europe website, get out your money and donate.

The Russians are coming

What I’m about to tell you doesn’t have much body, not even literally. I must confess that during a fair I’ve never visited a Russian stand before. Maybe I might have glanced over a few brochures about Saint-Petersburg but I’ve never been interested in Moscow. I convinced myself that on a level of meetings industry there’s not a lot to experience in Moscow. Sometimes I hear these weird and wonderful stories. Too expensive, too mysterious, too cold and too much vodka. Until that second day of the IMEX fair when I nearly bumped into a practically naked Russian couple - half naked to be more precise. I’ll call him Boris. He could have just walked out of the red Army. Wide trousers, long boots and a torso that even Putin would have been jealous of. The girl I baptized Lara. Fine, slender and a bosom like ripe pears that were only covered by a layer of body paint. You could have thought she was from the Bolshoi Theater. On their bare stomachs and backs the letters DMC were written in large. I’ve even forgotten the name of the DMC because I was so taken aback from so much beauty. And then it happened. I dared to jump into the Russian stand and practically ended up in the arms of a bubbly Russian lady. Larissa is her name, and dressed from top to bottom in black. She’s charismatic which evidently is also the name of her company Charisma Travel. After the fair she wrote me an email, saying she will show me Moscow in a Russian Fun with Moscow Flavor kind of way. The moral of the story: What use are nudity and beauty without the right pray!

Friday, April 18, 2008

I Have a Dream

In the same way magpies are attracted to everything that glitters, I often see marketing agencies, so-called high profile consultants and even trade magazines move heaven and earth to get the new group of association customers in their power. Websites are put together, digital newsletters are sent out, speaker opportunities are created, and World Association Congresses are invented to raise the interest of association executives and bring in quick cash. Or, as I’ve said before: we’ve reached the period of the worshipping of the golden calf. And who doesn’t let himself be seduced by golden Easter eggs? To put it very clearly, after Easter but during the high season of association congresses and association days I want to announce a proposition that I’ve saved in my ‘I have a dream’ drawer.
I know only few specialized organisers who succeed in launching a solid association congress, but there’s one exception: Kellen Europe’s annual EuroConference, which had its 8th edition this year. The best forum in all of Europe! No association day or meeting fair can compete with that. Since last year ESAE is also striving for the same quality - a beginning annual ESAE congress with a lot of potential for the future. The EMIF Association Days have always been doing well too. And then came my dream: why not start a step by step forum for one joint European Association Congress in the capital of Europe? One single annual Top European Congress, so charlatans won’t get a chance anymore. You can read more about this dream in HeadQuarters N°26.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pleasantly surprised by Vanessa and Nina

I know a few fellow journalists who didn’t sleep at all one night because of Vanessa Mae. But I can't tell you too much about that. The celebrated pop and classical musician concluded the GIBTM gala evening in Abu Dhabi with an exciting surprise show. No one could expect that the UK’s wealthiest young entertainer would be performing for us in the Al Raha Beach Hotel. Although... in Abu Dhabi almost anything is possible. And indeed, Vanessa, no less, was there. Hosted buyers and exhibitors, they were all pleasantly surprised! But GIBTM had another surprise. Unexpectedly, a lot of people showed up for the seminar ‘Meet the influential editors behind leading meeting industry publications'. Nina Gardiner, managing partner at Cut Communications, showed great skill to challenge Rob Nicolas, Ruby Gonzalez, Hunter Slaton and myself to find out the truth behind the meeting magazines. And what is that truth? We work in one of the few industries where people think it's not required to subscribe to a trade magazine, and by that I mean, actually pay for it. That's why it's hard to find good journalism in our trade. Magazines are slaves to their advertisers and can never really tell the truth... Or have we reached a new era? Nina promised that we will continue this discussion next year. I can't wait to get back into the ring!