400 international delegates took part in some wacky exploits during the conference, culminating in a fantastic "snowball fight" with scrunched up sheets of paper on which they had previously written short industry relevant questions or comments. Then a few randomly selected "snowballs" were picked up retrieved and the topics written on them animatedly discussed in small groups.
Not many of the participants had ever experienced anything like it. Over the years, an increasing number of participants at the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) European Meeting and Events Conference (EMEC) had, in fact, expressed that they thought the meetings were more than a little traditional in form.
That was all blown away in February, as a result of MPI's Danish chapter taking responsibility for hosting the 2016 conference.
They wanted to show everyone what they could do!
Even before the 2015 conference in Kraków, the Chairman of the Host Committee, Helle Svaneborg of Dansk Lægemiddel Information A/S had decided, together with her board colleagues at MPI Denmark, that things would be radically different if Denmark were awarded the hosting for 2016. She says:
"Our approach to hosting was to shake up traditional forms of meeting. By conducting the conference in accordance with the Danish Meetovation principles, the EMEC Conference could become a powerful demonstration of how markedly different we can create an engaging and inspiring conference." It succeeded beyond all expectations.
Meetovation is a concept developed by VisitDenmark under the slogan "No more boring meetings!" The main principles used during EMEC were: Creative use of the physical facilities - Active involvement of participants - Responsible and sustainable environment, with healthy and energising food - Local presence - and the Return on Investment (ROI) in relation to the meeting's purpose and measurement of results.
Exaggeration promotes understanding
The conference was held with a focus on the "Exaggeration promotes understanding" principle. There was buzzing and humming, we played, sang and made music, but all the time in a way that led to us learning something and promoting networking.
"Naturally, it doesn't mean that all conferences have to be done this way - you have to adapt the meeting format to those taking part. But here, we made it crystal clear to all the 400 delegates from the professional event and meeting industry in Europe and the USA that even by making small adjustments, an event can be lifted enormously," says Helle Svaneborg.
They would have something to take home with them
Karin Krogh, Nyt Potentiale and President of MPI's Denmark Chapter, was a member of the Host Committee and was responsible for, among other things, the factual content of the conference. She says:
"The goal was that people would have something to take home with them - something they could use in their own work and in their own struggle against mediocre and boring meetings. Basically, we wanted to inspire people to raise the standard of the event and meeting industry."
Informal and effective
Radisson Blu Hotel Scandinavia in Copenhagen provided rooms and facilities for EMEC in 2016. The large conference floor was completely refurnished and you could hear the participants murmuring to each other as they entered the meeting rooms, where the traditional rows of seats had been replaced with sofas, lambskin-clad stools, café tables and more. The informal atmosphere was instantly obvious.
It has to make sense
"The framework still has to be there, of course, but the content is always the most important thing," adds Karin Krogh. "Frameworks and shape without a common thread running through the content isn't enough. Why's there a beanbag there? It has to make sense - and this certainly did!"
Do you dare to challenge yourself and your fellow workers?
Helle Svaneborg and Karin Krogh both answer with a resounding YES! In this regard, the hotel and all the other partners also showed their enthusiasm over being challenged. Creating something new and different led to outstanding coherence.
<box with text > The subsequent evaluation showed that we achieved our goal. 97% of participants stated that it was the most engaging EMEC ever, 98% stated that Copenhagen is a good conference location and 90% stated that the Meetovation format increased their ROI in taking part
By Lars Blicher-Hansen