An Insiders View On Meetings – An Interview with Max Demalva from Creative Meetings.

MICE, Travel Industry

I was lucky to catch Max Demalva, General Manager for Creative Meetings in Southern Sweden, for an interview about the current state of MICE-business (MICE = Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events) and the challenges and possibilities in the event industry today. Max is an experienced meeting planner and shares his best tips for a succesful meeting

Q. Max, please give us an overview of the current situation. What does the MICE market look like today?

A. Well, the market is a lot different today than it was 10 years ago. 10 years ago it was enough to find a venue, book an artist, make sure audio/video worked and that all participants were fed and you could call yourself “Event Planner”. Please, do not get me wrong because logistics and technology are integral and important parts of any event, but there is so much more that can be done to guarantee ROI and make the event successful.

Q. Very interesting point, what are the key factors for a successful event?

A. Probably the most important factor is planning ahead. If you plan ahead you will get the venue you want, the artists you want and most likely at a better price too. Without planning ahead you simply have to settle for what is available. Another perk for the buyer with planning ahead is that you most likely will be able to relax the days before the event or meeting, which means you can focus on delivering the best during the meeting.

Second of all, please make sure that you as a buyer understand the reason for having this event. If you do, you will be able to pin-point what you need and motivate for your CFO why you need it. It also works the other way around, i.e. you actually can save money just because you know what you need.

Q. You mentioned earlier that you are working closer with the customer today than 10 years ago. In what sense and how do you work closer with your customer today?

A. Today we are not only providing the logistics as mentioned above. Today we liaise with the customer on a deeper level, helping them to plan the content of the meeting. I work as a coach to fine-tune the meeting, making sure that every element of the meeting has enough time and challenging my customers to do things differently. It is much more beneficial to have active participants than a passive audience.

One good way of involving participants ahead of time is to create a micro-site for the meeting and start informing about the contents early. One example is to post a video-greeting from the key-note speaker with a short invitation covering the topic briefly where you also mention that there will be a Q&A session. This way participants starts to think ahead of time about their questions rather than thinking about them during the actual speech.

Same thing goes for follow-up, I always follow-up that participants where happy with the content of the meeting not only the food, hotel rooms and entertainment.

In short: plan ahead and make sure participants are involved at an early stage!

Q. What is your best tip for a successful event or meeting?

A. Ohh, it is tough to give only one piece of advice because there are so many factors and every customers needs are different. I have to give 2 tips at least:

First of all, do not be afraid to involve colleagues from your own and different departments within the company when planning the event. I.e. if the Sales Department and Customer Service Department within an organization usually does a kick-off each, why don’t do it together? It will give synergies, cross-departmental bonding and ultimately happier customers. A positive side effect is that you will most likely save some money by doing them together which your CFO will love!

My second tip has to be: dare to have fun and think outside the box. If you are doing several meeting sessions you should try to break them up with some fun. Those little energizers will make the meeting unforgettable and revive the participants. The thinking outside the box part is to change simple things to make them more efficient. Maybe you should try a different seating than the usual so participants get to know each other? Maybe you should try a totally different venue than you are used to? Just try to be different!

Q. Thank you, Max! Here is food for thought for both customers and meeting planners. I just hope you haven’t given away all your secrets to a good meeting?

A. I am happy to share! I am not worried to give away secrets because every customers needs are different and this is where my knowledge and experience makes a difference for the customer. Thanks for a nice chat about something I am passionate about!

A big thanks to Max for his time and sharing invaluable knowledge. Max Demalva is on Linkedin and happy to connect. Creative Meetings has been doing meetings since 1999 and a stellar track record. You might want to get to know his other colleagues on their homepage or connect with them on Facebook.

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