Thursday, November 22, 2012

Record numbers at IACC's 2012 European Conference in London

Ahead of this year’s IACC European Conference, the promises were big! The message to those coming was clear, that we need to seek inspiration and then innovate if we are to continue to create unique meetings experiences!

Nothing makes for a better backdrop to achieving these promises, than bringing together IACC’s members from around the world and with this years delegates representing 15 countries from three continents, we were assured of global thinking!

Delegates representing 15 countries from three continents gathered at Lensbury Conference Centre in Teddington, Middlesex outside of London to focus on “Turning Imagination into Innovation” the theme of the conference. IACC Europe's Chairman, Jeu Bressers (General Manager, Conference Centre Kapellerput) and newly appointed CEO, Mark Cooper welcomed the delegates and encouraged them to maintain IACC’s consistent mission statement and vision to offer the industry’s finest facilities and directed additional emphasis on generating exceptional meeting experiences.

For the first time, IACC partnered with Greenwich University and invited 6 of their students studying Event Management to take part in the Study Tour and Conference.  The 6 students who came from 6 different countries themselves including India and Columbia, helped support the conference organisers and also took part in the lively conference sessions, adding invaluable Gen-Y thinking to the mix.

The conference started with a reality check when Rob Davison of Greenwich University spoke of the ways to engage with and get the most from Generation Y meeting planners and delegates. Gen-Y want stimulating with striking images and messages when choosing a venue for their meetings they want to stage and attend ‘Iconic’ meetings! Shorter sessions and more opportunities for them to exercise their philanthropic beliefs when they travel the World and attend meetings was Rob’s clear message. 

The scene was set and the conference’s next speakers, Matt and James from BDRC Continental, explained how by capturing and measuring global post event feedback from Meeting Planners, there were obvious areas of customer delivery that should we get it right, it will lead to customer loyalty and if we get it wrong, the client fails to return. None of the top three attributes of the venue were about facilities, they were all customer service and attitude based. Understanding Client Objectives, Flexibility & Responsiveness and Friendliness & Helpfulness. Get these right and the client will recommend you and return for more!
During lunch, our 6 students joined 6 of IACC’s Global Leaders for the IACC Future Leaders Lunch. It was the perfect chance for the students to find out  more about the meetings industry and for IACC’s six leaders to question what Gen Y future employees look for when deciding who to start their career with. 

The afternoon kicked-off with a session from Hans Meyer. Hans describes himself as an Imagineer and his story of how he created the radical CitizenM hotel brand, opened the minds of the audience and was a great precursor to the workshop sessions, where delegates were asked to forget all barriers and come up with ideas to change their own meeting environments.  

The gloves were off and the minds were open and no-one was afraid to throw out the long-trusted rulebook and explore what delegates need today. Take out 3-metre long desks in bedrooms, surely not!    Connectivity and technology was at the heart of  a number of ideas and designing bedroom, recreational and meeting space around the new way people relax and work was an obvious theme of this inspiring session.

Onto the final session and in true conference style, the minds had been worked so hard from a frenzy of networking and education all day, it was going to take something special to keep this audience engaged until 5.30pm! The session headline worried a few as it was surely not possible to make a Mobile Industry Review interesting wasn’t it? How wrong those doubters were! Ewan MacLeod of Reed Exhibitions delivered a humorous wake-up call as to how much impact the mobile revolution will have in the coming years on our industry.  Venue App’s are already allowing guests to check into their rooms remotely and order room service before they set foot in the door.  The inconvenience of queuing at reception or waiting for your credit card to swiped after your meal is quite frankly an inconvenience to far for todays customer!

2012’s European Annual Conference in London finished with an evening of music, provided by the Urban Soul Orchestra and delegates turned to their IACC Conference App to leave feedback on this year’s event!

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