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by Pádraic Gilligan, Managing Partner, SoolNua

September is back to school time across the Western hemisphere and, for former teachers like me, has a kind of “new beginnings” feel to it, the sense of a new year starting even though, calendar-wise, we’re only three quarters through the year.

It’s not dissimilar in the Events Industry with the summer heralding a hiatus, particularly for corporate activity, as folks head for the hills in search of solace and a break from the usual routine.

I  think of Shakespeare too as September approaches and, in my mind, I quote the opening lines of Sonnet 73:

That time of year thou may’st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang

It’s time to Connect17 …

So as September unfolds we kiss the “sweet birds” goodbye, rake up the “yellow leaves” and start getting ready for the Q3 and Q4 activities that shape the meetings industry year like SITE Classic (Los Cabos, Mexico, Sept 2017), IMEX America (Las Vegas, Oct 2017), ICCA Annual Assembly (Prague, Nov 2017), FICP (San Diego, Nov 2017) and ibtmWorld (Barcelona, Nov 2017). Added to this great list, for #eventprofs in Ireland and the 100+ hosted buyers from overseas, is Connect17, now in 2nd year at Dublin’s Royal Dublin Society (RDS) on the 17th and 18th of October, the week after IMEX.


Billed as “Ireland’s meetings and events industry under one roof”, Connect17 is for #eventprofs what the Ploughing is for farmers, what Body & Soul is for hipsters and what the Horse Show is for the champagne quaffing classes. Like all these great events, Connect17 is a marketplace and a meeting place, a classroom and a performance stage,  a bubbling cauldron of new ideas and a fizzy cocktail of energy and excitement. It’s a place to meet, to learn and to be inspired.

For its inaugural outing in 2016, Connect attracted over 2756 attendees to the RDS offering them 30 distinct educational sessions as well as access to 233 exhibitors. With over 5780 square metres of activities, however, many participants didn’t manage to take advantage of the full range of experiences on offer within the arc of a single exhibition day. Connect17, therefore, will be a two day event.

A Place to Learn

For the 2017 edition a mini-conference has been added on Tuesday morning, 18 Oct prior to the official opening of the showfloor at lunchtime on the same day. This means that exhibitors and visitors alike can learn from the 6 keynote speakers who will deliver Connect TALKS, the all-new educational feature for 2017.


Introduced and moderated by Gina London, Emmy award-winning veteran CNN anchor and now Strategic Advisor, for Cork-based Fuzion Communications, Connect TALKS is all about knowledge transfer and learning from such events industry professionals as David Alder, CEO and Founder of BizBash, a leading purveyor of inspiring content for global eventprofs. Also on the bill is Abigail E. Disney, filmmaker, philanthropist and the CEO and president of Fork Films.

A Place to Meet

Paul Kelly, the recently appointed CEO of Failte Ireland will officially open Connect17 at 2pm and then it’s all about business meetings with 3500 visitors currently forecast to be visiting with 290 exhibitors.


Like last year, many exhibitors will locate within their appropriate region making it easy for visitors to navigate the showfloor and find the full panel of possible suppliers within the region where their meeting or event in taking place. The Learning Lounges in Hall 2 remain in session throughout the afternoon too.

A Place to be Inspired

At 6:30pm it’s time to be inspired with Connect FEST, a full sensory networking event with great food and an all-star showcase of  the best and latest on the corporate entertainment scene. This is a chance for re-connections and reunions, for sharing ideas and learning new things, for discovering and booking that great new act for the Christmas event.


On Wednesday morning, 19 Oct the show floor opens again bright and early at 8pm closing at 1pm. Con-current education sessions will run again on day two in the learning lounges in Hall2.

The SoolNua team will be in attendance at Connect17 to meet new clients, learn new things and be inspired by the new emerging events landscape in Ireland which just gets better and better.

Patrick Delaney, Pádraic Gilligan and Aoife McCrum run SoolNua and work with destinations, hotels and venues on strategy, marketing and training for the MICE Industry.



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