In our interview with Malin Nilsson, Director of Events & Key DM de Carlson Wagonlit Travel, we spoke about the evolution of the MICE sector, the challenges faced by the agencies, sustainability and the keys to organising a successful event, amongst other things. Discover what she told us.
– You have dedicated over 17 years to the MICE sector, which would you say are the most important changes that have happened in the sector?
Malin: Our sector has become much more professionalized. Our clients (interlocutors) have more knowledge and expect more from us as meetings and events agencies. Now it’s not just about organising the trip. Now we have to get involved in the final objective of the event.
Now it’s not just about organising the trip. Now we have to get involved in the final objective of the event.
At contracting level, we can see that the involvement of the purchasing department is ever greater, something that makes selection more rigorous from an economic point of view. This reflects the austerity measures put in place by companies in the current climate.
– It seems that the economy is starting to recuperate. Have you seen any significant change with regards to the selection of destinations, type of events, venue contracting, additional service contracted…?
Malin: At the beginning of the recession there was a halt and an important reduction as much in meetings as with the incentive trips and events. Ostentatious large events were not looked upon kindly and companies opted for closer destinations and less luxurious, but more original programmes and shorter durations.
It’s true that we are noticing some growth in MICE activity and the forecast for 2016 is good, as we stated in our last report on forecasts for meetings and events that we just published at the end of September. Despite this, I believe that companies will continue to control spending in this aspect and will remain very conservative.
– Tell us which you think are the keys to holding a successful corporate event.
Malin: In the first instance, we need to know the expectations our client has: what do they hope to transmit with the event, what impression do they want the guests to take away with them, etc.? A briefing and also a good pre-event meeting are fundamental. From there, we must adapt the rest of the services with the collaboration of trusted suppliers and, of course, constantly monitor progress to guarantee the securing of the event objective.
Another key aspect is the creativity of the proposal, something that we work very carefully on as knowing how to surprise and move the participants is vital. Letting emotions transmit the message is essential if we want it to penetrate and remain in the minds of the participants.
Letting emotions transmit the message is essential if we want it to penetrate and remain in the minds of the participants.
– In some countries, many businesses in general and particularly professionals in the MICE sector, are very concerned about the environment. What level of maturity do you see in the Spanish market with regards to the Green Meetings and Eco Friendly spaces?
Malin: The MICE professionals have really been working on this aspect for years and the progress by suppliers, hoteliers, airlines, catering companies, etc. is very positive. At CWT Meetings & Events, as a division of CWT that we are, this is an area that we take great care of.
We always make our clients aware of this aspect and we tend to use suppliers that have an active plan in place with regards to sustainability. The protection of the environment, together with other points that form part of corporate responsibility are solid sales arguments now that fortunately society and our clients are more aware of the importance of this matter.
Environmental administration is part of our strategy, culture and daily activities and we have a Global Environmental Statute that testifies to this. Also, along with many other members of the sector, we are a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact and, as such, we are committed to respecting their Ten Principles amongst which we find environmental protection.
Forgive me for insisting with this subject but for us it is fundamental. I also wish to point out that in Spain we hold the ISO 14001 and this year we have once again been awarded the superior silver award from EcoVadis.
At an internal level, there are also many actions that we undertake. For example, in September we ran a video selfie competition at international level to share how every one of us participates in corporate responsibility.
– What do companies look for most when contracting venues and services for events?
Malin: The location of the venue, the attractiveness of the place and the ease of access to the destination are key factors to make the event a success.
Malin: Innovation and technology have always been at the heart of CWT’s activity. In fact, we have a division specialised in innovation, Corp-i, that is responsible for exploring the latest ideas and trends to create products and services that provide added value for our clients. This year we have gone a step further: Corp-i has launched a platform, CWT Spark!, where challenges are thrown out to all the company employees at global level and everyone can suggest ideas. Following an evaluation process, the ideas are presented to a management committee that selects three to be rolled out.
This year we have also announced our status as founder member of Welcome City Lab, the first incubator in the world dedicated to travel. Our participation there allows us to gain information first-hand and collaborate with start-ups that could potentially develop innovative services for our clients.
And, ultimately, as you know, in September we launched Meet by CWT M&E at global level, a mobile app that’s easy to use and can manage all aspects of meeting planning, from start to finish.
– Which do you think are the challenges to overcome for agencies of the MICE sector at the moment?
Malin: Due to political instability in many countries we are continually seeing our “working area” reduced. We must be able to find new destinations near and far that will satisfy the expectations of our clients and guarantee, at the same time, the success of the event.
Malin: I love surprises and the “wow” factor, and if it also happens to be in an interesting destination with good gastronomy and with the possibility to learn about the destination from a knowledgeable guide, then I’m happy.
I love surprises and the “wow” factor, and if it also happens to be in an interesting destination with good gastronomy and with the possibility to learn about the destination from a knowledgeable guide, then I’m happy.
– We’d like to know which sources of information or media you use when you are looking for inspiration.
Malin: I read a lot of the specialised press about the MICE sector, Spanish and international, as that way I can keep myself up to date with any innovations: Eventos Magazine, Punto MICE, Conexo, Marketing Directo, Marketing Journal… I also use LinkedIn a lot.