by Pádraic Gilligan, Managing Partner, SoolNua
Who are we?
Are we travel and tourism professionals who specialise in meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE)? Or meeting and event professionals helping companies and associations communicate and connect? Or maybe corporate executives who organise meetings and events for our company? Or performance improvement specialists who dream up amazing incentive travel experiences with which to tease and tantalise our work colleagues?
Maybe we work in sales in a hotel? Or maybe we run a visitor attraction? Perhaps we’re answerable to our government and have responsibility for our country’s incoming visitor numbers? Maybe we run a professional or trade association and organise an annual conference? Or a professor in a teaching hospital convening a meeting of global colleagues around a specialist therapeutic area?
Truth is, we’re all of the above. We’re an astonishingly eclectic bunch ranging from not-for-profit free spirits to lots-of-profit C-suiters. This blog has previously addressed the absence of a suitable label to describe us all but more and more I’m liking the term #eventprofs. While it doesn’t fully embrace the totality of our community, it goes close enough: “event” connotes something live and face-to-face but doesn’t rule out digital or on-line; “prof”, crucially, highlights our professional status. The hashtag gives an cool and contemporary twist to the term and underlines that we’re digitally savvy. So we’re #eventprofs!
The reason for this rambling prelude is to highlight a forthcoming event in Ireland which is really a festival for #eventprofs, a celebration of everything that #eventprofs do, a very public showcase and acknowledgement of the extraordinary value that #eventprofs bring to destinations across the fullest possible spectrum of endeavour – political, social, economic, cultural, educational. It’s called Connect16 and it takes place in Dublin at the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) on Wednesday, 28 September 2016.
Connect16 is the brainchild of our great friend and global #eventprof, Nicola McGrane. For the past 12 months or more she has relentlessly pursued her vision to showcase the extraordinary creative energy at the heart of the meetings and events industry in Ireland by assembling the greatest possible number of #eventprofs under one roof. Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Ireland and the various regional destination marketing organisations, thankfully, have all supported Nicky’s vision and have committed to a regional showcase on a grand scale at the RDS in September. But that’s only the beginning …
Connect16 wants to reach beyond the niche buyer | supplier community that forms the core of the meetings and events industry and showcase for the widest possible audience why meetings matters and why Ireland does them particularly well. Connect16 is not your usual cliquey trade show made up of alickadoos air-kissing, hugging and high fiving each other; rather, it’s a wide-open market square where #eventprofs are inviting all and sundry to come along to see, hear, taste, touch and smell what this magnificent industry does in Ireland and how it can effect transformative change for companies, associations, destinations in and through its unique métier.
What will it be like?
The most useful analogy to describe Connect16 is probably to say it’s like a boutique festival. It’s Electric Picnic or, better, Body & Soul, for #eventprofs. These festivals pivot around music but are way more than that – they’re about spoken word, debate, sustainability, cultural exchange, comedy, artisan food, crafts etc. The fringe elements are as central to the experience as the main stage. Connect16 is like this. While the main stage equivalent might be the business networking and exchange that takes place on the showfloor, the fringe elements at Connect16 are the seminars and educational sessions, the expert exchanges, the entertainment showcases, the incredible food presentations, the technology hub, the Social Media – along with the buzz, energy and magic that’s unleashed when real people meet in real time, in real places.
CONNECT16 is not just a powerful showcase of the very best Ireland has to offer, it is a place to network, a place to do business, a place to learn and a place to be inspired.
Who should attend?
Connect16 is for everybody but is particularly relevant to anyone who organises meetings and events in a company, organisation, professional or trade association or government department. Ideally if you’re in this group you should bring along the person you report to because one of the objectives of Connect16 is, of course, to highlight the indispensable value to organisations of meetings and events. While every organisation holds meetings, many don’t appreciate the art and science around them or realise how they can be agents for transformational change not just monotonous talking shops. So bring your boss and get him or her hooked on the magic of meetings – register here.
Connect16 is a must-participate event too for anyone in travel, tourism and hospitality in Ireland and for the widest possible spectrum of companies, big and small, along the supply chain. The vision for Connect16 is powered, ultimately, by a desire to align, unify, convoke our sometimes disparate, fragmented industry around a single objective: let’s come together and showcase the awesome power of what we do: #eventprofs together unleash immense energy, Irish #eventprofs together do this in a natural but super-charged way.
For further information please check out the website by clicking here.
Pádraic Gilligan is Managing Partner at SoolNua, a specialist agency working with destinations, hotels and venues on strategy, marketing and training in the MICE sector.