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by Pádraic Gilligan, Managing Partner, SoolNua

From zero to hero

When I departed Salzburg late on Saturday afternoon rain was general all over the city. It was also raining in my heart. I felt gouged by the €4.20 I was charged at the airport there for a crappy cappuccino and devastated that Arsenal was down two goals to nil after 8 minutes in the FA Cup Final. I sat in the plane that afternoon deflated and flicked aimlessly through the Lufthansa in-flight magazine seeking solace from the nefarious demons that bothered my brain.

The free airline food dispensed smilingly by the charming in-flight crew compensated somewhat for the horrible cappuccino and when we arrived in Frankfurt it was 22 degrees, the sun was shining, Arsenal had equalized with Hull and the game was now into extra time with the Gooners definitely in the ascent!

I thought again of Allan Sherman’s song:(see the previous blog!)

Wait a minute, it stopped hailing,
Guys are swimming, guys are sailing,
Playing baseball, gee that’s better,
Muddah Fadduh kindly disregard this letter.

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 18.00.20And things continued to get considerably better. By check-in time at the super tasty Villa Kennedy, Ramsey had knocked in a goal and Arsenal was on course to win a major trophy for the first time in 9 years.  I ate an honest hamburger in the JFK bar at Villa Kennedy and drank a celebratory glass of Barbera while Bayern Munich overcome a stubborn Dortmund by 2 goals to nil in extra time to join Arsenal as cup winners.

Certified Incentive Specialist

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 18.25.56The Site endorsed certificate programme – Certified Incentive Specialist (CIS) – brought 14 MICE professionals to Frankfurt for 12 hours of immersion in the mysteries of incentive programmes and motivational experiences. I was privileged to be part of the faculty chosen to deliver the programme. Created and designed by the ever-smiling Fernando Compean of Meetings Mexico this is an entry level course that covers the rudiments of reward and recognition. Crucially, it provides MICE professionals at various points along the complex chain of distribution – Incentive Houses, DMCs, Hotels, CVBs etc – with a panoramic view of the entire channel and a better understanding of how business flows from programme launch within a corporation to final destination delivery.

The perfect mix

Coincidentally all links in the incentive chain were represented in the room –  corporate buyers, incentive houses, DMCs, hotels, Convention and Visitor Bureaus. I was massively fortunate to co-present with the avuncular Dana Weaver, a corporate buyer, who provided us all with precious insights into the decision making process from the end-user perspective.  A lively, bright, multi-cultural group of curious MICE professionals ensured an interactive, dynamic learning environment and kept Dana, Fernando and me on our toes. Keep on eye out for future editions of this certificate course here.

Exclusively Corporate at IMEX

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 18.05.01SoolNua has been working with IMEX for the past twelve months on the 2nd edition of Exclusively Corporate, an innovative programme of education and networking aimed at corporate meeting planners. Based once again at Rocco Forte’s magnificent Villa Kennedy property, Patrick and I curated the educational content and MCed the event. Aware that many meetings and events planners work in splendid isolation within their organisations, IMEX’s vision for the programme was to provide a sanctuary for dialogue and networking around all matters of concern to this community. The tangible energy in the room at day’s end, as one by one participants shared their impressions, was testament to a hugely successful programme.

An uplifting Presentation

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Award winning British entrepreneur, Michelle Mone, delivered a high impact opening address that candidly charted her career trajectory from 10 year old paper round tycoon to Head of Sales at Labatt’s Scotland division – despite her departure from formal education at age 15. An experience of discomfort at a dinner dance in her 20s caused her to embark on a mission to invent a new bra, her first step in creating a successful lingerie company. The initial rapid success of Ultimo, however, suffered “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” and the clarity of vision and steely self-belief that guided Michelle in the early years were needed to ensure survival and eventual global mega-success. Michelle’s powerful story, narrated unpretentiously in a broad Glasgow patois, was touching, poignant, funny and highly inspirational. It was also uplifting.

Breakout sessions followed covering topics specifically flagged as important by last year’s inaugural participants. Luann Edwards of FMGlobal shared a fascinating case study of socializing an event involving 1600 participants, a private social network, 900 iPads and three mobile apps while Jeff Leggett gave an North American take on the trends impact on the future of meetings and events. Mark Handforth of Compliant Venues made a compelling presentation on regulatory compliance while Charlie Heavey of innocent drinks shared how internal events are central to innocent’s corporate ethos and how innocent engages its workforce without blowing the budget.

When people come together, magic happens

Good networking time throughout the event ensured that relationships were well forged and fostered as we approached the World Café session moderated by the dynamic Terri Breining. This open and flexible format encouraged participants to cluster and chat around topics of interest, for as long as they were interested, before moving on to another topic. The brio and buzz of human interaction and engagement was palpable before beautiful spring-time weather in Frankfurt brought us into the Courtyard at Villa Kennedy where we were served Pink Prosecco.

IMEX continues in Frankfurt through Thursday, 22 May

Pádraic Gilligan and business partner Patrick Delaney run SoolNua, a boutique marketing firm working for enterprises in the meetings and events markets.




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