Share this:

by Pádraic Gilligan, Managing Partner, SoolNua

It’s very unusual for me to write about the same topic two weeks in a row. But these are unusual times so having written about the SITE Index last week, here’s another SITE theme this week with a post on why you really must attend the SITE + MPI Global Forum. I figure it’s timely. By posting about this amazing event in early November I’m giving you time to get your act together, sort out your schedule and get your ass to Rome for the event from 12- 14 January. Here are the 5 reasons why you must go.


Reason 1 – It’s a Collaborative Effort

Often in our industry we’re faced with an impossible Sophie’s Choice – two or more must-attend industry events when your budget only extends to one or, even more frustrating,  two events with irreconcilable time and space co-ordinates: one in China, the other in Brazil with only 2 days between them!

This event is brought to you by two global associations, collaborating, co-operating and combining resources to create a single, compelling global forum, bridging the entire meetings and incentives industry.

It’s great for hotels, venues and other members of the supplier community who work across the full spectrum and now get to interact and network with meeting AND incentive planners in one single location. It’s great for meeting and incentive planners too who can get acquainted with each other’s sectors and learn from each other.

Reason 2 – It’s a Forum

We tend to use words like meeting, event, symposium, colloquium, seminar, forum and so on as synonymous expressions, interchangeable terms allowing us to inject a little variety into our discourse. But, of course, they all have unique  meanings, they originate at fixed moments in time and relate to a specific historical context. Forum is a case in point.


The Forum in Rome was a venue for speeches, the site of gladiatorial combats. It was where business was contracted, where famous people were commemorated, the teeming heart of Rome. Wikipedia refers to it – somewhat happily – as “the most celebrated meeting place in the world”.

SITE + MPI have combined resources to create a true contemporary “Forum” experience in the very city the hosts the original Forum – how cool is that?

Reason 3 – the educational programme is timely & relevant

The best annual conferences are those that combine great peer-to-peer sessions with brilliant contributions from external storytellers. External speakers keep us focused on new, still to be explored horizons and challenge us to look outside our limited world. Peer input, meanwhile, provides priceless, highly practical content that we can use to improve our business and win.

At the SITE MPI Forum in January we’ll hear from Alberto Angela, one of Italy’s foremost writers and TV hosts. He’s a palaeontologist – good luck trying to say that after 3 glasses of Chianti – and does for ancient history what the great Brian Cox does for  particle physics: explains it and makes it relevant to our lives today.  He’ll be sharing stories with us from his best selling, A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome.


We’ll also hear from brand specialist, Julie Cottineau, formerly of hero-brand, Virgin, and author of a best seller: TWIST: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands. Julie will explain what successful brands are doing to stay ahead of the competition and help us avoid the pitfalls of “me too” marketing.

These plenary highlights bookend some stellar content from meetings and incentive  industry leaders like Miguel Neves (on what’s next in technology), Ciara Ann Feely (on winning big in incentives) and Michael Butler (on trip planning) ensuring we all walk away with highly practical, applicable learnings.

Reason 4 – It’s the perfect time of year

The meetings and incentives calendar is pretty choc-full of events with certain months already over-burdened with conflicting trade shows, conferences and other activities. This event  take place in early January, just as the new year is kicking off. It provides a wonderful symbolic opportunity to hit the ground running in 2018 and treat yourself – and your team – to some inspiring brain food to help  navigate a way through the turbulent waters of these most interesting times.


January is named for the ancient Roman God, Janus, the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages and endings. He’s usually depicted with two faces, one looking forward, the other back. January is the perfect time to come to Rome and look back over what you’ve achieved in the past, while seeking clarity of where you’re headed in the future. With several hundred meetings and incentive professionals all doing likewise, you’re guaranteed to find answers and solutions to all those conundrums  that have puzzled you in the past.

Reason 5 – It’s Rome. What’s not to love about that?

I’m truly privileged to have had a chance to live in Rome. I did academic research there in 1986 / 87 and lived in Grottaferrata, in the Castelli Romani, the famed hills surrounding Rome. I used to travel from there by bus, metro and foot to the centre of the city and, every day, walked past the Trevi Fountain at around 7:15am, before the tourists arrived. It was a magical  experience each morning walking the narrow cobblestoned laneway from Piazza Barberini, past the shopkeepers all hustling and bustling ahead of a busy day’s trading, to emerge, always unexpectedly, at the Piazza dei Trevi where the fountain of the same name stood, nonchalantly, in all its Baroque elegance and beauty.


Rome in January is certainly not Rome in Springtime. It’ll probably be cold and the days will be relatively short. However, you often get those steely blue skies and that bright sunshine even in January. Regardless of what weather is served up to us, we’re guaranteed a special experience in one of the world’s most unique and magnificent cities. I’m particularly thrilled, too, that incoming SITE president, my long standing friend, Anna Maria Ruffini, will commence her year at the helm of our great association in the capital city of her beloved Italia.

See you in Rome!

Pádraic Gilligan, Patrick Delaney and Aoife McCrum are SoolNua, a specialist agency working with destinations, hotels and venues on strategy, marketing and training.

Gilligan and Delaney will deliver some of the educational sessions at the Forum including a session on site inspections and one of workplace culture. 





2 thoughts on “5 reasons why you MUST attend SITE + MPI Global Forum

  1. Kip Lambert says:

    All true!! And don’t forget January is a time for SALDI!! A great time to shop in Roma!

    1. padraicino says:

      Great point Kip – Make sure to get yourself to Via del Corso for the January Saldi!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.