by Padraic Gilligan, VP, Industry Relations, MCI
Aisle or Window?
I’m an aisle man through and through. Quick access to over-head lockers, fast track to the loo, it affords me the illusion of control in a place where, ultimately, I have zero control. For this trip I book very late and end up in a window seat. A mere 50 mins in the air means it’s not such a big deal. Plus I am afforded an amazing view of one of the world’s truly great cities on the final approach. You see the swerve and bend of the river as it meanders through the city. You notice the surprising symmetry and order of the street typography. You also feel the vastness of the city, the majesty and scale of its buildings.
I take the Heathrow Express to Paddington – 15 minutes from airport to downtown – and then try to figure out my route to Barbican on the deeply mysterious Circle Line. To out-of-towners, the London Underground is fascinating and frightening in equal measure, a parallel universe with its own charts and maps that famously don’t correspond to the reality above ground. It has its own rather peculiar language too – commuters are warned to “Mind the Gap”, trains are “for” Cockfosters and, with typical British restraint and understatement, on-schedule service is described as “good”. Finding the platform for my train is like locating Platform 13 ¾ in a Harry Potter novel but eventually, with one change en route, I disembark at Barbican.
The Meetings Industry Marketing Awards
The Meetings Industry Marketing Awards (MIMA) is hosted this year at The Brewery, the historical Whitbread facility dating from 1750 and I’m staying on-site at The MontCalm, a lovely boutique property that effortlessly combines period elegance and contemporary appeal. It also has Bulgari products in the bathroom which my girls have trained me to retrieve. Brainchild of Martin Lewis, Managing Editor at CAT Publications, MIMA was launched in 2002 to raise the standards of marketing in the meetings and events industry. Ovation won Gold at last year’s awards in the “Best Brand Marketing Category” and, having attended the event this year for the first time, I’m even more proud of our achievement.
Castigate or create?
As an industry that sits somewhere within or below the corporate MarCom function we tend neither to walk the walk nor talk the talk in marketing terms. We bitch and moan when corporate clients treat us as tactical vendors rather than strategic partners but often we only have ourselves to blame as our own marketing efforts are frequently poor and creatively flaccid. While his journalistic instinct might have been to carp, criticize and castigate, Lewis instead took the high moral ground and created the Meetings Industry Marketing Awards, the 11th edition of which I am attending at The Brewery.
Awards are made in 11 categories with the categories increasing year on year as new marketing channels come on stream – this year included two new categories: Best Social Media Campaign (won by Kenes Media) and Best Digital Marketing Campaign (won by One George Street). The panel of judges comprises the bright, the wise and the highly opinionated in our industry today – a meetings industry’s version of Raphael’s School of Athens – and the entrants span the spectrum from recent start-ups to global behemoths. The nominees and winners this year, in perfect harmony with our present zeitgeist, all appear to have achieved huge impact for relatively little spend.
Universal World Events wins gold in the Best WebSite category and this piques my particular interest as we compete with Universal within the healthcare sector. Their site is very simple, with the feel of a generic wordpress theme but, nevertheless, is compelling, crisp and clean with great use of video (including the now fashionable on screen doodle artist) and a particularly clear statement of Universal’s value proposition. It’s very strong on vision, mission and values but there’s no smug and suited corporate nonsense here. It has also been updated with news of their MIMA win – other winners please copy – and this latest award sits proudly with an impressive panoply of citations which include Site Crystal and Eventia Awards.
Ali Wrighton – Events Extraordinaire
The night itself is a triumph of effective organization (thanks to the expert Ali Wrighton who keeps everything on track and on time) with perfect balance of all variables and objectives – the awards are given the space, time and attention they deserve immediately following a plated main course (which, I have to say, is disappointing!) and dessert is served in a networking context, buffet style, featuring the ubiquitous but much loved chocolate fountain. So we all get to smooze and booze while still affording front and centre billing to the core business objectives.
The After Glow
What else happens? In my 2 minute catch up with the undisputed king of stand-up, Harry Fine, I learn one new joke and am reminded of 10 old ones; Mother and daughter duo, Birgul and Eda Ozden, of Meptur (strategic partners of Ovation Global DMC in Turkey) look more and more like sisters; Paul Kennedy spreads characteristic largesse all around the room; Liz Stanhope, back from the wars, looks great; Nick Waight, on a break from 5500 lawyers at the excellent Convention Centre Dublin is up for 2 awards; Nigel Cooper hopes Everton might win at least a tiny percentage of the number of awards that pmm has won (although not tonight as Nigel doesn’t count 2nd as a win); Caroline Hill and Carole McKellar chat about a forthcoming medical meetings event in Philadelphia that we’re all speaking at; Donna Abberley does Facebook posts but I out-tweet her on the night.