ABT-ACTE Russia conference in Kazan: "Emotional marketing and non-standard solutions are important for events of the post-modernism era"

One of the main signs of a successful event is the full hall where you have to carry in additional chairs for those willing to listen to the expert's speech or to take part in the discussion. ABT-ACTE Russia educational conference "Theory and practice of event and business trip arrangement" that was held in Kazan on June 9 could be considered a success according to this and many other criteria - the Association of Business Travel gathered not only experts from this region, but also delegates from Moscow, Perm, Saint Petersburg and Ryazan in "the third capital of Russia". ABT-ACTE Russia returned to Kazan for the second time, bringing a new program and new speakers.

Ekaterina Barabanova, representative of the State Tourism Office of the Republic of Tatarstan acquainted the guests with travel and MICE facilities of Kazan. She said that the city was one of top three Russian destinations after Moscow and Saint Petersburg according to TripAdvisor. It is easy to get here - there are 15 flights from Moscow only, and travel time is only an hour and a half.

"Kazan is famous not only for its historic landmarks - by the way, two of them are included into UNESCO world heritage list. Events of world scale are held here every year", the speaker stressed. In particular, the capital of Tatarstan hosts the International Sergey Rakhmaninov Festival "White Lilac" and the International Sofia Gubaidulina Modern Music Festival. In 2015 venues of the city hosted the World Water Sports Championship, and in 2018 several matches of the World Football Championship will be held in Kazan.

Head of sales and corporate department of ZCTS Svetlana Morozova spoke about the main stages and special aspects of business trip arrangement: from decision taking and formulation of the mission to the necessary service booking and reports. She dwelled on the advantages of OBT and stressed that the tool ensured freedom of choice for the employees, at the same time controlling their actions, as well as it allowed them to forget about the search of reports and closing documents - they all are in the order. Inna Rukhadze, procurement manager of Accenture spoke about cooperation schemes between the customer and the business travel service provider. In her words, if you are in search of a partner for long-term cooperation (not less than two years), it is better to hold a tender (RFP), while if it is a single event, the best is a sole source, that is on the non-competitive basis.

"Both at the stage of preparation and at the stage of contract you should pay attention to details: include a detailed description of the actions the parties are to take in case of disputable situations, prices, conditions and payment terms", Ms Rukhadze noted.

When you start working with a new provider, you should already have your own "project team" behind you and a plan, designate the employees responsible. "Partner relations are the key to everything, and in order to maintain them, you should observe payment terms in the first place, be as unbiased as possible and be ready for a compromise", she added.

Daria Mironova, senior sales manager Russia and CIS of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts spoke about an ideal RFP from the point of view of a provider. In the expert's words, the customer only has to observe 10 points. In particular, provide a detailed description of your good and bad event experience in event arrangement to the prospective partner, share your ideas on strong and weak points of the forthcoming event, provide several date options of the meeting or the conference, specify stay length and budget (division into cost items is obligatory). "And the main thing - you should always have an opportunity to meet and discuss in detail all the questions that may arise", Ms Mironova stressed.

"Daria Mironova's speech was very meaningful, she literally made things as clear as a bell, allowing the audience to look at the issue from a non-standard point of view", was the opinion of Emil Shagiev, president assistant in IBFD Fund.

Program development director of ACTE-BCHA Evgeniya Belenkaya spoke about the international program of business and conference hotel attestation. In the speaker's words, members of the Association try not only to provide an opportunity for independent hotels to compete with large hotel chains for business travellers, but also to help secondees, travel-managers and agents to choose the most suitable accommodation variants. "As the result the level of trust between providers and customers grows", she added.

According to the program, every hotel is examined for compliance with more than 400 criteria. More than 200 accommodation facilities in Russia and the CIS have passed the attestation procedure.

"The world has no single quality standard for business hotels, and travel managers have a too wide choice nowadays. A tender is a rather complicated and time-consuming process, it takes both parties too much time to hold it, and a system of reviews for business travellers has not been invented yet. Websites like TripAdvisor are biased and focused at individual tourists, guest reviews on the pages of hotels and booking systems are not trustworthy. The ACTE-BCHA accreditation standard solves all the above mentioned problems and tasks", Ms Belenkaya noted.

Conference participants also learned about quite unusual global trends - for example, about the snack culture and neomania. The speech of Julia Khankhalaeva from Ahmad Tea (Russia) was devoted to the rapidly changing conditions of the world in general and the travel market in particular. In her words, because of the rapid life speed-up and oversaturation of the informational field in the second decade of the XXI century leisure and relaxation, the skill to avoid the negative, apart from success, have become the main life values. "Our life is full of controversy: globalization goes hand by hand with interest in subcultures, total online presence - with the fashion for digital detox, ready-made solutions - with the search of opportunities for self-realization", Ms Khankhalaeva said.

The speaker stressed that highly emotional marketing, music, graffiti and any non-standard solutions were extremely important in the post-modernism era. This is because the consumer is in the centre of everything, but in most cases he does not even realize what he wants, the expert is persuaded.

“The speech of the “millennium” representative Julia Khankhaleeva has impressed me greatly. She spoke about marketing trends from a positive point of view, with slight irony – this is the type of presentation we frequently lack in our work”, Maria Bukina from ZCTS office in Kazan shared her impressions.

Anna Nazyrova (Ernst &Young) agreed to this opinion; she shared with the audience her experience in involving employees into the working process and gave advice on how to give new colleagues the understanding of the strategy of the company with the help of MICE. As she especially stressed, it was important to introduce newcomers to corporate values not through books or documents, but with the help of live communication and gamification. “The approach to event arrangement has changed considerably in the past few years, largely to millenniums, because they acquire information in a different way than older generations”, Anna noted.

During the panel discussion the delegates discussed special aspects of pricing and accommodation during forums and high seasons, as well as the work of travel departments outside Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The experts were Gulnara Safina (Relita Kazan), Julia Zhoglo (MegaFon) and Alena Surovtseva (Skyland).

During the practical part, the participants were split into five groups, and each of them was addressed by experts in turn. The topics were air travel cost optimization for corporate buyers, some aspects of agreement conclusion, trends in corporate purchases in the field of business travel and effect of modern technologies on consumer behaviour, business travel budget cut without the reduction in the number of business trips, as well as online tools for business trip arrangement. Maria Anufrieva (Finnair), Anna Egorova (Swissotel Krasnye Holmy), Evgeniya Belenkaya (ACTE-BCHA), Svetlana Morozova (ZCTS) and Julia Vishnevskaya and Anastasiya Malevskaya-Malevich (HRS) answered the participants` questions.

Conference guests not only took active part in the educational program, but also got acquainted with MICE facilities of Kazan – they had a sightseeing tour of the city and visited the all-year-round ski centre Sviyazhskie Holmy. Besides, a visit to Galiaskar Kamal Tatar State Academic Theatre for event partners and participants from other cities was planned.

“No doubt, all the speakers provided expert information. As for me, the presentation on marketing trends was the most useful, I was also interested in information provided by ZCTS and HRS, who gave their expert opinions on burning issues”, Nadezhda Lutz (Metafrax) said.

“There were unusual, creative speeches at the conference that were in step with the times”, Maria Bukina summed it up. Partners of the event were State Committee on Tourism of the Republic of Tatarstan, Courtyard Marriott Kazan Kremlin, Aeroflot and Finnair, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts hotel operator, Best Western Plus Vega Hotel & Convention Center, Moscow hotel Swissotel Krasnye Holmy, HRS, CitySightseeing Russia and business travel agency Zelenski Corporate Travel Solutions (ZCTS).

Ekaterina Larina