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by Padraic Gilligan, Vice President, Ovation Global DMC

Measuring what matters

MeasurementTangible measures such as financial return can never properly calculate the total benefit you get from attending a well organised meetings industry event. This thought was already in my mind as I tried to assess the positive impact for me and, crucially, for those who pay my salary, of my attendance in Boston at the annual conference of FICP, the Financial and Insurance Corporate Planners. The thought was further piqued by Tahira Endean’s excellent recent on-line article for Canada’s Corporate Meetings Network. Tahira highlights all of the ancillary benefits, way beyond the mere transaction of business, that accrue when people meet face-to-face: the true value of what she refers to as “handshakes and hugs”.

While, incidentally, I did receive valuable, and measurable, business requests in Boston this only equates to a fraction of the total positive impact and benefit of the event. Our measurement and evaluation criteria need to be tweaked so as to capture some or all of the following “soft” benefits:


I found FICP13 to be an inspiring experience for a whole variety of reasons. Here, somewhat randomly, are 5 things that inspired me:

  • Eldon Gale – he was in the fitness room before me at 5am and stayed after I left at 5:30am, displaying heroic early AM discipline while the world slept!
  • Luann Edwards – she courageously pursued a radically innovative use of social media and digital technology in a live meeting environment to build a hugely successful event that has now become proof of concept for the rest of us;
  • Lisa Swayze – she brought us into the intimacy of her relationship with her late husband Patrick and shared the harrowing narrative of her loss with gentle, powerful dignity;
  • Adrian Segar – he gave us first-hand experience of participative meetings and introduced us to a wide range of new ways to do old things;
  • Angela Vento – this lady is General Manager at the Sheraton Boston, our host hotel for FICP13. She is one of those rare GMs who, like such Christian mystics as Padre Pio and Charles of Mount Argus, have the gift of bi-location!


I gained valuable insights at FICP13 that will help me both in life and in business. These include:

  • Vikram Mansharamani’s useful distinction between puzzles and mysteries. Puzzles, apparently, are best solved by specialists who need to identify the missing dots to solve the puzzle while mysteries are best solves by generalists who need to find the proper connections between the existing dots;
  • David Rich’s wide ranging presentation on Event Marketing which defined the discipline simply and cogently as “events designed to influence”
  • Aoife Delaney’s explanation about juicers – the Humron Juicer is the best according to this GenYer who, in addition to being a young leader in the meeting industry is also an accomplished, fully qualified Yoga instructor;
  • David Rich and Rodger Stotz’s two hand reel that linked cultural trends with trends in the meetings industry – this is the era of mass customisation where everyone expects personalised, tailor made experiences;
  • 80s Rockers never die – they may go off the radar for a while but the lure of the limelight (and maybe the call of the cash) will eventually put them back on a stage somewhere near you where with strained voices, expanded waistlines and receding hairlines they’ll belt out “Africa” and “Rosanna” like its 1982 (big thanks and huge respect Bobby Kimball!)

Loud Laughs

I laughed a lot at FICP13. In fact I laugh a lot at most meetings industry events. Our industry is full of very fun and funny people who never take themselves too seriously. This, it seems, is both very good and very healthy – it was confirmed to us during the excellent breakout in Boston on “The Science of Happiness”. It’s also confirmed by neuroscientist, Robert Provine PhD whose research demonstrates that laughter builds “a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people”. So now we know! What made me laugh in Boston?

  • The 80s party – this event was approached with even greater discipline and diligence than the educational  sessions and every manner of 80s icon was recreated from Maverick (one outright winner: Cosimo Bruzzese) to Madonna (my award is given jointly to Daniele Menache and Katy Gettinger) to Magnum PI (go Dan Young!); special additional mention to Michael Burke for the marvellous mullet which almost had a life of its own! Laugh? I nearly cried …
  • Paul Eder – Paul has a twisted mind and wicked sense of humor to match my own. He’s my brother from another mother. With deadpan sincerity he’ll say “Bet you didn’t see any Mandarin Orientals last week in China” and then pause for a reaction.
  • Jessica Holmes – there’s usually a pretty funny MC at FICP events and this year it was Canadian comedian and actress Jessica Holmes. She was hilarious, colouring occasionally outside the lines – but only just – and regaling us with a side splitting Celine Dion sketch. She told us that Stress + Time = Comedy. And so say all of us!
  • Karen Schneider – I met Karen again following a gap of 5 years. The last time we saw each other was at The Eagles in Chicago and we sang our way through the entire show. Karen sang magnificent harmonies. Meeting her again unexpectedly across the table at the First Timers Orientation had the same impact on me as a long, loud laugh.
  • My HPAC fellow travellers – Jack Gage, Isabel Mahon, Julie Holman, Diane Goodman, Colleen Brzozowski, Clarence Day and Bob Beach have been a source of great support, companionship and constant laughter during our past year together. With great sadness I say farewell to Bob, Diane and Colleen whose term on the HPAC ends next month.

Padraic Gilligan is Vice President of Ovation Global DMC, the destination management division of MCI.




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