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EIBTM 2011 – Behind the Scenes by Padraic Gilligan, VP, Ovation Global DMC and Global VP, Industry relations MCI 

2010 v 2011 What a difference!

What a difference a year makes! Exactly one year ago most of Europe lay under a thick covering of snow making travel in and out of Barcelona extremely problematical. This caused major headaches for Reed Exhibitions show organisers of EIBTM as well as hundreds of hosted buyers, exhibitors and show participants. This year, despite a bleak and frozen economic outlook across most EU countries, early winter temperatures have been consistently high and we enjoyed a very balmy 18 degrees in Barcelona for the duration of EIBTM 2011.

The Fira Gran Via, home to EIBTM, can easily take 30 – 40 mins to get to by cab from the various host hotels located in clusters around this magnificent city. I never mind the taxi journey as it gives me a chance to ease into the unique urban rhythm of this great city, to marvel at the all-natural nonchalance of its inhabitants and absorb the sheer audacity of its generations of architects.

Derby Hotels – Hotel Astoria

Ricard Opisso at the Hotel Astoria

Barcelona is crammed full of wonderful hotels including the iconic Hotel Arts (operated by the peerless Ritz Carlton), the uber-cool ME by Melia and W by Starwood, the new Mandarin Oriental etc. When I’m there for business, however, and need a comfortable,  affordable and easily accessible hotel I usually stay at one of the hotels in the Derby Collection. A key aspect of the Derby brand is to find links with the art and culture of  its host city. The Hotel Astoria where Patrick, Aoife and I stayed, hosts a permanent exhibition of the work of Catalan illustrator and draughtsman Ricard Opisso across its 3 public rooms. If, like me, you’re inspired by diversity and innovation, you’ll love the hotels in the Derby Collection in Barcelona, Madrid, Paris and London.

Samme Allen and Ovation Huggability Award 2011

First duty at EIBTM11 was to present The Huggability Award to its worthy and popular

Samme with Pat and Padraic at EIBTM

recipient for 2011 Samme Allen of the Barbican Centre. The chosen location – the London and Partners stand – was buzzing like a busy beehive. Chris Lynn, content and chilled at the Espresso Bar, reflected on a super successful IMEXAmerica where he signed some serious business for London for ’12 and ’13. Meanwhile Samme, in red heels and LBD, dispensed her rays of sunshine and trademark hugs to all and sundry and received the coveted Ovation Bear Huggability Award from Delaney and Gilligan.

Kellerman and Meetings International

Roger Kellerman and Atti Soenarso who run the award winning Meetings International were also in attendance. Originally only available in Swedish this magazine has always stood out for the sheer class of its design – Sara Appelgren’s stunning photography, cool white spaces, elegant typography, even the ads were always appealing. Now that it’s available in English I’m loving its editorial slant which is for more interested in the philosophy and psychology of meetings than in covering which venue has added another 20000 sqm of meeting space. Consistent with this, the lead article by Tomas Dalstrom introduces us to Nathalie Wlodarczyk of Exclusive Analysis who provides advice and analysis to corporations and associations on high risk destinations such as Rwanda and Sierra Leone. It’s a fascinating read during which Nathalie shares her experiences of the sometimes dramatic, sometimes subtle cultural difference between business meetings in London, Stockholm or Kingali.

1st Ovation Global Trophy

Last formal meeting of the day was with Barbara Albrecht and Guendalina Rampazzi of the Swiss Convention and Incentive Bureau (SCIB) to advance our planning of the 1st Ovation Global Swiss Trophy due to take place from 19 to 22 April 2012. It’s always a huge pleasure for us to work with Barbara and her team. They are deeply committed destination ambassadors who combine their natural organisational abilities with the vibrant spark of subversive creativity to create truly motivational experiences. If we haven’t yet approached you about participating on this fun event please reach out to Aoife without delay on [email protected]

Launch of IDMA

First mooted at IMEX Frankfurt and now launched at EIBTM was the International Destination Management Association (another new acronym to deal with – IDMA!). A 4 strong committee of interested parties including senex, industry veteran and Greek native Tasso Pappas spent 6 months engaging in the dialectical principles of Hegelian philosophy via Skype to achieve a powerpoint synthesis of their views on how this new association might be constituted, what it might look like and what criteria might delineate and define its membership. The recent discussions about a potential merger of the nascent IDMA with the mature, adult and US originating ADME International were also aired. Following some Churchillian bravado, the assembly finally endorsed the committee’s request that they be permitted to continue negotiations with the Americans. I predict endless discussion, much soul searching, occasional angst and odd touches of existential self- interrogation. But big kudos, regardless, to Tasso and friends for caring about the DMC industry and for their selfless investment of time and wisdom in endeavouring to create an entity that might protect our businesses.

Dinner at La Pepita

On Wednesday night I joined my colleague Hugo Slimbrouck for dinner with a rather eclectic group of industry folk from Australia, South Africa, Northern Ireland, India and Qatar. It was a fascinating, thoroughly enjoyable evening that proved, once again, how privileged we are to work in an industry that fosters cultural diversity. The fun informality of the venue – La Pepita, sourced expertly on Trip Advisor by the ebullient and smiling Irette Ferreira of Qatar National Convention Centre – provided the perfect backdrop for an evening of respectable high jinks and restrained carry-on. Shane Jameson, late of Dubai and now DOSM at the Movenpick Tower & Suites Doha, actually knew the words of more songs than me but, to his eternal shame (or should that be flame?) couldn’t identify the best song ever written, “Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen. Thanks, too, to my buddy Hugo, to Marriott veteran Gareth Greening of Renaissance, and to Karen and Sultan of events for contributing to a memorable dinner.

Breakfast at the W

It was a great but long overdue pleasure to catch up with fellow past president of Site Sean Mahoney. In full and reassuringly expensive 3 piece suit, Sean always looks the true professional that he is and, every time, makes me think again about my own studied informality, my tossed hair and my unkempt shoes. Conversation ranged easily over many topics, both personal and professional, and left me with the feeling, once again, of how fortunate I am to work in an industry where you share incredible experiences with industry colleagues and develop so many lifelong friends.

Ovation Spain

The remainder of the day was spend off the EIBTM showfloor  in Carrer Tuset where our Ovation Spain office is located. Now the highest revenue office in the Ovation network it was inspiring to trace the growth of this office under the leadership of Guy Bigwood, then Oscar Cerezales and now Sandrine Castres. With Kremes graduate (thanks Oliver Kitz!) Rudolf Rannegger heading up our DMC division we have gone from strength to strength, winning national awards and delivering exemplary programmes from some very big hitting corporations and associations. There’s a magical atmosphere there attributable, no doubt to Sandrine’s great leadership, and a kick-ass team of really amazing people all eager to “make it happen”. Thanks, folks, to you for all you do for us. To make contact with Ovation Spain mail [email protected]

Padraic Gilligan (mail: [email protected] blog:

PS A special shout out to my great friend Martin Lewis with whom I and Andrew Harvey of Unique World enjoyed the unexpected pleasure of a nice lunch and a high energy conversation on Wednesday – I was present at Martin’s 50th and at his recent wedding but prior commitments will cause me, with great regret and sadness, to miss the celebration of his 60th birthday next week. And thanks, boys, for introducing me to the very lovely Emma Waycot of Vine Tree Connections. 


6 thoughts on “EIBTM 2011 – Behind the Scenes

  1. Irette Ferreira says:

    Hi Padraic,
    Thanks for sharing this! It was lovely meeting you and can I just add that you too contributed beautifully to the musically entertaining evening!

    1. padraicino says:

      Thanks Irette! It was lovely to meet. Now trying to figure out whether with all my children I qualify for a Ferrari or a Maserati?

  2. Bent Hadler says:

    Hi Padriac,
    Did not have a chance to talk to you directly, but did see you in the room during the meeting for the professional concerned DMCs:-)
    Thanks for carrying the message on to you blog.

  3. Good recap, I was impressed with EIBTM this year, its a very well organised event and apart from getting the chance to catch up with a lot of our hotel partners I also enjoyed sneaking off to watch Barcelona rattle in 4 goals against Rayo V!!

  4. Enjoyed your EIBTM overview. Just one slight correction – while ADME started in the US, our recent name change to ADME International more accurately reflects our growing membership, which includes DMCs in Italy, Denmark, Russia and beyond. ~ Fran Rickenbach, Exec. VP, ADME International

    1. padraicino says:

      Thanks Fran – I’ve amended the text accordingly!Thanks for pointing this out to me. We look forward to working together.

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