1. You have worked across a broad spectrum of sectors staging major national and global conventions. How did the work around event management change in the past years?
I think that the principles remain the same, ie good purpose/content (need to know information) and strong networking: bringing together relevant people, whether they know each other and need face-to-face relationship development or whether they should know each other. The globalisation has made this more compelling and technologies can help and facilitate.
2. The purpose in the meeting industry is to bring people together, share ideas, to educate etc., in your current business model, what kind of meeting and event do you organize and with which purpose?
Conferences and smaller, focused roundtables. Our business model is to have the right size and, more importantly, the right balance and ratio of attendees. The majority are peers attending to keep their knowledge levels high and to benchmark. We have solutions providers but not that many and all carefully curated.
3. Choosing the right destination depends on many criteria. On which basis do you choose first a destination and second a hotel or venue?
We go where the market is predominantly for their ease, or a major wealth management location so that attendees can arrange other meetings alongside their trip. Often our events are catalysts to a bigger travel trip and we increasingly see attendees plan major intercontinental trips many months and years in advance. We choose a venue based on size and fit, both physically and on budget.
4. What are your favourite destinations i.e. hotel or venue and why?
Miami in March is good, perfect for our North American and Latin American attendees, a great climate and a reasonable choice of hotels. Though our recent event at the Lobkowicz Palace in Prague was an absolute joy. A simply stunning setting, beautiful rooms and first class service and catering.
A friendly and flexible approach is best.
5. How important is the personal contact to a supplier?
Very, like all business we need to build trust. Europe, generally is always very professional with excellent customer liaison.
6. What is the perfect and tactical way to convince you of a destination, respectively to place business in a certain Hotel?
Staying in contact, via email and phone – face-to-face meetings help, but aren’t essential. A friendly and flexible approach is best in the initial stages, through to contract negotiations and the on-site experience, but this needs to be consistent. Often this can support potential physical limitations.
7. In 2016 you mentioned the formula AAA at an M&I Forum, which stands for Appropriate, Accessibility, Attractiveness when it comes to choosing a destination. How important is the Budget in the decision making process?
It is important, but of course we appreciate that ‘you get what you pay for’. We will benchmark pricing against some iconic 5 star hotels we use in London, but we have to allow for regional variances. We will always weigh up the overall cost elements and consider the value proposition for our attendees too, ie for the accommodation costs and transportation.
Zurich is a wonderful city with picture-book buildings.
8. Recently you have visited Zurich during a FAM Trip. How was your perception before and after the trip?
I’d only had brief event trips to Zurich before and seeing the city without the distraction of an event to run was a real pleasure. I feel I understand the environment much better – walking around, with a guide providing a lot of infrastructure and historical information. As we invariably have people travelling from around the world we really should be more knowledgeable on the locations we use. It was incredible to see how people enjoy the river during the summer months. What a wonderful city and environment, from the constant supply of fresh drinking water from the fountains to the beautiful architecture and picture-book buildings. The hospitality is superb, of course, with fantastic food, too.
9. Tell us about one of your events in Zurich, which is in best memory.
I think my best memory is of our European Family Investment conference at the Dolder Grand Hotel, where a contingent of the audience conducted their ‘private closed door’ session in the summer sunshine in a private garden area annexed to the main meeting room. This really was a good ‘break out’ meeting. That same year we held our drinks reception on a terrace beyond the restaurant, overlooking the lake. An incomparable view!