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by Pádraic Gilligan, Managing Partner, SoolNua

All’s changed…

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 17.41.16Regular readers of this blog will have noticed how its byline and biography have changed. They used to say that I was Vice President of Industry Relations at MCI and Managing Director at Ovation Global DMC. About 15 months ago this changed to Managing Partner at SoolNua. When Patrick and I meet people at industry events both here in Ireland and around the world  we’re constantly met with questions like  – “what are you guys doing now?” and “What does SoolNua do?” Despite our best efforts via face-to-face and on-line communications, meetings industry folks still tend to see us in those black Ovation tee-shirts or wearing that prominent MCI flower. A legacy spanning  two decades is not an easy thing to move on from!

Another Viewpoint

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 11.03.26We launched SoolNua in January 2014 with the tagline “another viewpoint for meetings and events”. Sool is an anglicised version of súil, the word in Gaeilge (the Irish language) for eye. Nua is the word in Gaeilge for new so our name means new eye with all the intended metaphorical connotations – new perspective, new viewpoint, new vision, new outlook. The meaning is reflected in the graphical device, a stylised eye with catch light, designed by our great friend and long time collaborator Tony Curtis. Pulling all of this together SoolNua’s raison d’etre, from the outset, was to be a filter or prism offering a new perspective on issues and challenges facing meetings industry professionals in the light of our collective 50 years of MICE life and work. 50 years of ups and downs, riding that vicissitudinous roller coaster, punctuated by stupid mistakes and silly errors but, almost despite ourselves, ultimately successful and leaving a proud legacy.

Back to the sweet spot

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 15.43.24When we opened for business the initial projects that came our way were not meetings industry related at all. We wrote a marketing strategy for an IT company and launched a new retail pharmacy brand. It was deeply satisfying to see how transferrable our skills were and how we could bring another viewpoint to the IT and Retail sectors. Gradually, however, we found work that drew more directly on our experience and expertise in Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events. We undertook a project for a 5 star hotel aimed at recovering its lost market share in the incentive sector and helped define its brand pillars. We started to speak with destinations that wanted more MICE and organised a major conference on this topic in a central European capital, bringing together the relevant public and private stakeholders.


Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 21.07.25Now well into our second year in business, SoolNua has expanded. Aoife McCrum who has been with us from the get-go has been joined by Sarah Kavanagh and we have two wonderful colleagues, with aggregate age less than half our own, bringing “another viewpoint” to SoolNua. The work has accumulated too and we now have live projects with a major venue, an international hotel group, a portfolio of visitor attractions, a global MICE trade show, and, as recently reported in the industry media, with the Slovenian Convention Bureau. We moderate at industry conferences and speak on such topics as Meetings Industry trends, the world of DMCs, networking and social media. Recently we developed a plenary presentation entitled “Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast” which was extremely well received at the annual conference of the International Association of Conference Centres (IACC) in Florida, USA.

SoolNua at Smock Alley – 6 May 2015

We now feel the time is right to present the SoolNua story more formally and, accordingly, we’re staging our first mini-conference  next week at the beautiful and deeply historical Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin. The theme is “another viewpoint” and we’ll be joined by 4 friends and collaborators with whom we’ve worked closely since the birth of SoolNua.

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 16.14.50Simon Geraghty is the driving force behind DotDash, a digital marketing collective that brings together some of the most creative, bright and fun people in this exciting emerging sector. We worked with Simon and his team – and, of course Tony Curtis – on the Ovation website when we were still with MCI. The same team is behind the design and functionality of this blog and was also involved in our much vaunted SoolNua site. More recently we collaborated on a highly disruptive social media campaign for a global hotel chain.

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 16.15.47John Treacy and his brother Stephen own Treacy Consulting and offer the analytical processes and insightful rigour of big global consultancy firms but in friendlier, more boutique, intimate setting. We have been privileged to work with them on some really great projects and have enjoyed fusing our knowledge of the tourism sector in Ireland and overseas with their proven procedural models and approaches. They have an immense frame of reference encompassing strategy, sales and marketing, organisational theory, reward and compensation and so on.

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 16.17.50Martin Klöfver is from Sweden and is one of the owners of Trippus, a highly efficient on-line registration system for meetings and events. We are using Trippus for our SoolNua mini-conference and are fascinated by its multi-level functionality which includes dispatching event communications both to e mail and SMS addresses. On the day Martin will also demonstrate the audience engagement capabilities of Trippus as well as its functionality in the  area of e-commerce.

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 16.19.56We first met Kevin Kelly a number of years ago when he spoke at an MPI event in Nice. We were re-connected through our mutual friend Miha Kovačič when Kevin spoke at Conventa, Miha’s innovative meetings industry tradeshow. Kevin is an author and speaker more known globally than in his native Ireland. He delivers his trademark, high octane “exceptional execution” all over the world and plays a key role on the  training team of the world’s biggest IT companies. We’re proud to know Kevin and thrilled to have him present for us at “Another Vision”

The event is by invitation only and is fully subscribed. However, if you’re a reader of this blog then we’d be honoured to welcome you to Smock Alley on Wednesday next at 7:30. We’re serving a nutritious artisan breakfast from 7:30am and will conclude proceedings by noon.  Please e mail me on [email protected] and I’ll arrange for you to receive a link to the joining instructions.

Pádraic Gilligan is Managing Partner at SoolNua, a boutique consultancy company offering experience and expertise in MICE for destinations, venues and hotels.





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