IMG Show 2017 - two happy days

The Russian MICE industry should probably forget about its status of the most conservative one - having such an outstanding event as the International MICE Geography Show it may and should be at least the most explosive and innovative one! This year the rally of event planning experts from all over the world was held in Moscow for the third time, and what is more, IMGS program included three (!) venues. On the first day event participants were invited to The Ritz-Carlton Moscow, on the second day - to The Museum of Russian Impressionism and Shyolk Banquet Hall. The event was arranged with the support of the Department of Sport and Tourism of Moscow.

"Our guests are professional buyers from Irkutsk, Omsk, Chelyabinsk, Perm, Ekaterinburg, Nizhnevartovsk, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Ufa, Rostov-on-Don, Voronezh, Samara, Tyumen, Chisinau, Baku, there are about 500 of them!", Irina Mikhalkova, ABT-ACTE Russia partner director said. "We have increased the number of the cities and the amount of guests considerably, providing an opportunity for everyone to meet a large number of service providers within a short period of time".

By the word, the number of exhibitors reached 100. "We were in great demand", Oksana Baidakova, senior regional sales manager of Worldhotels recalls. "The business part was so busy that I managed to have a coffee only once! I met the necessary customers, acquired contacts of great regional companies. Everyone was very optimistic, the travel geography was diverse, which is especially important for us as a worldwide association".

In the guests' opinion, the educational part was also exceptional. You could use the speakers' presentations to write a whole coursebook on the ways to arrange a corporate event on the top level, with a twist, with maximum involvement and benefit. And its first chapter could well be devoted to how to measure the ROI of a corporate training or a holiday.

Day one – in one breath

"I have been dealing with event planning for a long time and in different countries, and I am convinced that our creative part is much steeper than, for example, that in Asia, where they have many ready-made programs, where they do not invent anything new", Sergey Armishev, general director of Special Project Agency opened the educational program of the first day of IMG Show.

Moreover, foreign companies often do not invent anything at all: "Do you know how one American electronic company holds its corporate events? The chef buys a large bottle of champagne for the whole news room where about 200 employees work. And that's all. The rest of the budget is divided between the employees who decide themselves how to spend it. For example, for extra training". In other words, the company invests into its staff. And then it uses the competences the employees have acquired for the benefit of its business. "We will arrive at it, but a little bit later", Sergey is convinced.

At the moment the issue "How to assess event efficiency?" is on the agenda of many companies. Usually the main criterion is the profit. And what about an internal event? For example, a New Year corporate party?"

"Suppose, the number of participants is 200, and the budget is two million rubles", Sergey outlined the conditions. "What goal do we set? To thank the staff. And the task? To make everyone attend the event and keep them satisfied".

Every project should be supervised by a single key manager, the expert stressed: "It is nice to have three heads only for a fairy-tale dragon. There should be one key person, but you may well choose separate leaders for different working areas".

You may make the event more interesting by choosing a certain event topic. "In general, all the creativity development trainings are based on one principle: you`d better put aside your first thoughts", Sergey noted. "An idea came to your head during the first seconds because you had already seen or heard it somewhere before. Only after this you will start "working out" an original idea".

And finally, the main thing is how to measure the efficiency of such an event. Why not take ... guests' smiles as the key indicator? "By the way, an experiment was once held in Times Square in the USA", Sergey started, "A device was installed that detected the mood of the crowd. “The smile indicator” processed hundreds of faces and determined "the average temperature of the street".

The key index that is used to assess event efficiency should also be assessed in money. For example, if the goal is to get 200 smiles within a certain period of time, and the company has earned 10 million rubles during the year, the price of one smile is 100 thousand rubles. "Consequently, next year you should bring as much as 120 thousand to the company. Or even 200 thousand rubles, and so on", the speaker summed up.

In order for the investment into the event to be returned, you should know your customer, Anna Nazyrova, corporate service manager of EY (Kazan) is convinced. The expert spoke about the approaches that may efficient in planning events for various generations of employees.

"Everything was quite simple until millennials appeared. It is not a problem to arrange an event for people like you: you know what you like and, consequently, what your customers will like", Anna took the floor.

At the moment 48% of EY employees on the territory of the CIS are millennials, i.e. those who were born from 1988 to 2003. "By 2020 they will account for as much as 70%. And we all need to know how to come to an agreement with them about anything", the expert addressed the audience.

As early as in the VI century b.c. Socrates said almost the same as what we think about our children nowadays: "Our youngsters like luxury, they are ill-mannered, mock their bosses and show no respect for their elders". "Every next generation considers itself to be smarter than the previous one and wiser than the next one", are the words of George Orwell, the British writer and publicist. The conflict of fathers and sons is also reflected in the generations theory presented in 1991 by American scientists William Schtrauss and Neal Hove.

"Our children - millennials, or "ygrecks" - have seen how much we worked, and do not want the same destiny for themselves", the expert said. "The Internet has given them their understanding of the world. They have different values. They think they can achieve everything quicker than their parents, and are not ready to think ahead, they live here and now. They are all napoleons and are willing to leave their mark in history. This is what we should keep in mind".

The representatives of generation Y also like to be in the know of what is going on, they need to be given constant feedback. And they behave as equals, no hierarchy. "Some few years ago I was shocked when a student addressed me on the first-name basis. They have no authorities, even those of age", Anna noted.

The generation X values event comfort above all, the maximum convenience of logistics, venue location. They have worked a lot and they want to be taken care of at last. The presenters should be of the top level. For them time is money, so the schedule should be thoroughly planned.

And what do ygrecks need? First of all, processes digitalization - for example, they will definitely thank you for an application where they can communicate. And of course, the game, motion, drive. Quests and team tasks are exactly what they need.

And the generation Z breathes down the ygrecks` neck. "These are children born with a smartphone in their hand. They perceive the world through pictures. They do not almost read at all, but they know foreign languages at the same time. Their average time of information uptake is 8 seconds", Anna said. "And the way they will alter the event industry is a big question for us all ".

The next year`s XXI World Football Championship is definitely going to be a big case for everyone, it will embrace two parts of the world – Europe and Asia - for the first time ever. The matches will be held in 11 cities of Russia, where fans and championship participants will be accommodated.

“I often travel on business and see how quickly these cities change”, Julia Manuilova, general manager of City Travel notes. “In Domodedovo and Zhukovsky airports new terminals are under construction. In Sheremetyevo the second runway strip is to be put into operation. In Rostov-on-Don a new airport is to open quite soon. In Samara aeroexpress trains are going to be launched. All this is of great importance for you and me, for the industry in general”.

The final part of the championship will be held in Russia from June 14 till July 15, 2018. That is, these will be the peak dates for hotel accommodation. “Only 173 Russian hotels have been accredited by FIFA Federation, this is 60 thousand beds”, Julia announced the figures. “It is obvious, that it is far from enough for all the guests and participants of the World Football Championship. For example, 3.5 million guests visited a similar event in Germany. In SAR there were 3.2 million visitors, in Brazil – 3.4”.

The main tourist flow is likely to concentrate on three matches: 1/8 final, semifinal and the final, that is the first half of July. “You will hardly find any accommodation for these dates, and corporate customers should be ready for it”, the expert warned.

According to the preliminary data, about one million rooms will be available for accommodation in Moscow. What more, even now room rates start from 15 thousand rubles in three star hotels, from 20 thousand in four star hotels, from fifty thousand in five star hotels. And there is the minimum stay rule almost everywhere, especially in 5 star hotels. It is 14 days.

In the regions the rates are slightly lower: three star hotels start from 8 thousand rubles, 4 star hotels – from 12 thousand, 5 star hotels – from 20 thousand.

Corporate buyers should start their talks with hotels in spring, when the latter have an understanding of their occupancy. “And my recommendation to travel managers is –it is probably worth talking to your boss about decreasing the number of business trips from June 14 till July 15, moving business trips to other dates”.

While the experts shared their experience and knowledge in the Buyers Lounge, professional buyers could meet the exhibitors. There were almost 100 MICE service providers! You could have a rest and relax at a drawing master class. Destinations of the world were chosen as the starting point for inspiration.

“An art party is a trend that is gaining momentum”, Svetlana Gerasimova, marketing manager of Artyshock, the organizer of the creative platform, shared her opinion. “Moreover, you are supposed to draw a picture in a certain technique, so that every participant could copy it. There should be no straight lines, small details. And if you make a mistake, it will only make your masterpiece unique. A master class like this is a kind of a restart. When meetings go one after another, there is too much information, and it seems to you that your head is going to blow up, such a pause is necessary”.

By the word, the paintings were enough for a whole gallery!

Day two, the historic one

On the next working morning IMG Show 2017 guests gathered in the Museum of Russian Impressionism. After coffee they were offered a busy educational program.

Ganessan Suppia, Worldhotels regional director of sales UK, Nordics and Russia spoke about cultural differences of various countries.

For example, when you plan an event abroad or have foreign participants, it is important to remember, that the Japanese, for example, do not like it if you leave comments on their card – it is a real insult for them. “The Japanese never say “no”, it is impolite for them to refuse”, Ganessyan added. “They may explain the situation to you later, but at first they will agree to you. So do not take everything in good faith”.

The Chinese also have their peculiarities. For example, it is not considered respectable in the Chinese culture to open the present at once, in the present giver`s presence. The French do it in the opposite way: they may and they`d better open the present at once. Romantic people do not like the number 13. You should not pack your present into black, white or green paper in Korea.

The Chinese also talk rather loud, push and press. “This is their way of life”, the expert said. “And they adore shopping. If you plan a tour for a Chinese group, a visit to a department store or a shopping centre should definitely be in their program”.

You should better take Indians to an Indian restaurant, because they often turn out to be vegetarians.

And finally, the Russians. “Russian customers may change everything in the last minute. This is why you should be very flexible in communicating with them”, Ganessyan noted.

Vera Neschadina, quality research consultant of GfK Rus continued the topic of habits and expectations of Russian travellers.

Thus, new experience is the most important for us. In Vera`s words, this trend has been very stable for the past three years. And the same trend is observed on the global level.

In other words, the consumer becomes more experienced. An ordinary discount is not enough for him. He wants to get unique experience and unique feelings. “The accent has largely shifted from what we offer to how you feel”, the speaker explained.

A vivid example in this case is the National Museum of Play that is located in New York. There are many digital screens in this interactive attraction, there are lots of activities, both for grown-ups and children.

The immediate availability of a product or a service is what is also very important for the Russian customer. The less the time there is between the need is formed and the final result is received, the better. This is why we would definitely appreciate the instant delivery service that has been launched by Indian railways. A traveller may make an order, choose his seat in the compartment and have his purchase delivered during a long stop of the train.

The third trend is innovations for simplification. In Russia it has been stable for the past five years. “We all want to have less routine – and it can be avoided with the help of technologies. Now a great number of applications and services that simplify our life are available”, Vera explained.

The data was obtained from Consumer Life, a special survey by GfK on global consumer trends.

The presentation of Oleg Danilyuk, safety director of Hyatt Regency Moscow Petrovsky Park was devoted to ensuring event safety. Oleg has been guarding the calm of event participants for 17 years already, and he has had occasion to work in various regions.

“Even a minimum breach in the safety system may bring to naught all your efforts and do a great harm to all the participants”, Oleg stressed. “There should be no breaches in safety. It should be ensured everywhere and always, you should strain after it, and here every meter of the state border is important”.

Many event planners think: “We can probably do without it, can`t we?”. Events are often held either under the supervision of safety experts or even without them at all: “hit or miss”. Sometimes “it misses”, and sometimes it does not. “No matter how many event participants there are – 5, 10, 1000, 10000. You should study not only the location itself, but the territory, the place where the venue is located”, is Oleg`s opinion.

The speaker brought an example, when he once had to solve the safety issue at a corporate event in Turkey. The customer had chosen a hotel that was located next to a small night club. During the event the club visitors that were in the state of alcoholic or drug intoxication tried to enter the event venue. “But in this case we managed to cope by a lucky hit: the Russian freestyle wrestling team was accommodated in the same hotel. And you can imagine, they also wanted to attend our event! So, we managed to come to an agreement with them: they helped us to withstand the onslaught of the local club, and we let them attend the event”.

The key to success in the field of safety is cooperation of all the organizers, various project managers with the security specialist, the expert is convinced. “People usually think that if there are door supervisors, the event is safe. But each of them is responsible only for his own territory”, the expert warned the audience.

“Unfortunately, no matter what we do, your safety system may be ruined at any point of time”, Oleg summed up. “A meteorite may fall, after all. This is why you should always work out various visitor evacuation routes, keep in mind the possible need for medical aid. Your task in this case is to minimize the losses”.

Dmitry Saveliev, an independent expert, chose the topic of unusual venues for his speech. Dmitry drew the attention of the audience to the fact that they were the participants of a historic event: “I can`t remember any business travel event that was held in a museum. It is real collaboration!”

Trying to explain the phenomenon, the expert brought the example of Singapore`s experience. For many years, cultural and aesthetic personal growth has been supported on the official level as a factor of state economic growth. “In other words, you cannot implement or create anything without the skill of design thinking. Design thinking includes human expertise as well”, the speaker explained.

Collaboration may help to make the event competitive, especially if there is paid admission. Second, it is involvement. “You may have been attracted not only by the conference itself, but also by the opportunity to visit the Museum of Russian Impressionism. There are very few modern venues like this in Moscow”, Dmitry noted. An unusual event also brings inspiration.

The speaker also pointed out two new event formats that “break all the stereotypes and traditional event concepts” nowadays. The first is a lecture party with the participation of speakers from business, media, film industry and art.

The second is an anti-conference, where there are no speakers, lecturers, audience, no presentations are prepared beforehand. There is only an abstract topic, in which the organizers may outline several areas of discussion. A leader appears at the event – a facilitator, and he does not even need to be an expert in a certain topic.

“Just think, your customer may have got bored of attending ordinary events. You should experiment and, of course, gather feedback”, Dmitry said at the end of his speech.

But an event is not only an interesting format. When the meeting planner gathers his colleagues and partners on one venue, he may become a bridge between those who need to be given a hand to and those who are ready to provide such help. Evgenia Solovtsova, communications manager in Merck, drew attention of the audience to charity in MICE.

According to opinion polls held by the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center and “Dobro”, 76% of respondents took part in charitable projects at least once. And 71% of opinion poll participants were ready to do it. Besides, it turned out that people would rather participate in a charitable project or a campaign that had been planned and organized beforehand.

What are people ready to devote their time, money, effort to? Who are they ready to help? More than 80% are ready to help children, 53% - the elder generation, 43% - animals, 37% - the environment.

Health, help to the society and culture, the environment are the three areas Merk has decided to render its support to. “You may have your own areas. Your task is to find the area your company will not be indifferent to, that will be in line with your business”, Evgeniya noted.

Thus, a charity auction in support of public health service was held among the employees. “At one of the conferences in Yaroslavl we suggested the participants painted matryoshka dolls”, Evgeniya shared her experience. “Everything we needed was wooden matryoshka models, brushes, acrylic paint and gloves”.

At gala dinner where the work was demonstrated, colleagues bought each other`s matryoska dolls. With the help of this initiative we managed to collect about 300 thousand rubles for medical treatment of children.

Volunteering is another form of charity. “We announced a corporate Friday in our company”, Evgeniya said. “Together with The Center of Equal Opportunities for Orphans “Step Up” we asked the employees to help orphanage graduates to cook jam that would be sold at a charitable New Year market”. The expert noted that the campaign was voluntary, but about 80% of employees took part in it.

And finally, Merck team opened a whole playschool in one of Moscow`s centres. “The most difficult thing you will have to face is project work, coordination of your actions with supervising authorities. But the way it looks like in the end, the joy of your colleagues and partners are worth it!”, Evgeniya is convinced.

At the end of the educational program the panel discussion “Technologies in MICE” was held, its moderator was Philip Lookianenko, general director of HRG Russia. Together with the experts of the Russian MICE industry Philip tried to determine what technological solutions were nowadays popular with event organizers and what impeded their market growth.

It turned out that not long ago Bayer had launched an online tool for conference package purchase, that was very convenient if you have to arrange a standard event. “The author of the initiative, our internal customer, may contact the venue directly and book it at once without any bureaucratic hurdles, by choosing the necessary options in the “catalogue” in our intranet system”, Angelika Snitko, senior event manager of the company explained. “At the moment only two Moscow hotels are connected to the system. We have fixed their event rates, including hall and equipment rental, and so on”.

When the hotel manager confirms the booking, the budget estimate is sent to the customer. On its basis a purchase request is created automatically, and a bill is issued. The whole process takes one or two days!

AccorHotels hotel operator has introduced a similar system. Two years ago a group booking option appeared on the website of the company. “The maximum number of rooms that could be booked was 15”, Lilya Sherlygina, sales and marketing director of Novotel Adagio Ibis Moscow Kievskaya joined the discussion. “You only have to choose the dates, fill in the necessary information and send your request to the hotel. After this AccorHotels manager contacts the organizer. However, I would like to note that no matter how convenient it is, the service is not very popular. The main feature of the Russian market is specific document flow, which results in certain difficulties”.

Philip agreed to Liliya: “We sometimes send an online request to a hotel on the part of the customer, or the customer sends it himself, and after this the hotel contacts us and asks whether they can contact the customer in the usual way. We are far from the markets where technologies are widely used during the booking process”.

“In my opinion, the Russian MICE market is the most conservative one”, Kirill Rozhkovsky, growth director of Eventicious, a developer of mobile applications for business events, expresses his point of view. “And here the problem of generations exists. Technologies are created by the generations Y and Z, and decisions are taken by the representatives of the generation X”.

Another cause of the slow technological growth of the industry is mistakes. A director has its own global picture: “Oh, it`s a great feature, let`s make QR code admittance!”. “But the event may not need it at all! But it is done all the same, with a zero result, and everyone is disappointed”, Kirill says. “As the result the company retreats because of its failure”.

The conflict of generations really impedes technological growth in MICE, Angelika took the floor again: “For several years in a row I tried to persuade my bosses to launch a mobile application for cyclic meetings. The logistics is complex, there are constant last-minute changes… The bosses did not hear me – they saw the figures and said: “It is more expensive”. As the result, human resources are not always taken into account”.

An occurrence helped. At one of the conferences the boss noted that the flipchart with the description of the program was open to all the hotel visitors. And it included speakers, their positions, topics… Any competitor could come and see it! We could not take it away as well – the information helped the delegates to find their way. “When they asked me whether there were any alternatives, I remembered the mobile application. At the moment two departments of Bayer have held meetings with the help of the mobile service and are very much satisfied”, Angelica said.

IMG Show participants could continue their discussion and exchange experience during a tour of the museum, and later they raised their glasses to two happiest working days of the year in Shyolk Banquet Hall, where the gala dinner with the entertainment program in the Russian fairy tale style was prepared for them by the Diaghilev Cultural Centre. The guests became the participants of a real show with songs, dance and riddles! It was not without wine, of course – the real Georgian wine! Due to Сonvention & Exhibition Bureau of Georgia and Calypso Travel & Event everyone could taste the special 2014Mukuzani wine by Khareba Winery that was awarded with the golden medal of the world famous contest MUNDUS VINI 2017.

By the way, the following reviews could well be the short speeches.

Anastasiya Smirnova, head of business travel group of Russian Post:

A very interesting and useful event, speakers with huge experience. I especially liked Anna Nazyrova`s presentation on the special features and habits of employees belonging to different generations. I got interested in the topic almost a year and a half ago. And I can say that it is rather difficult to find reliable information on this issue.

If we speak about the company I am working for, for the past five years the average age of employees of Russian Post has decreased from 52 years in 2013 to 41 in 2016. It is not only interesting for me to understand the preferences and special aspects of behaviour of generations x, y or z, but it is also very useful for my work, because I communicate with hundreds of employees of various ages every day.

Besides, IMG Show visitors are the representatives of a variety of companies engaged in the arrangement of both business travel processes and events. Here you can agree on cooperation or discuss business issues once again with the providers you already know. My special thanks to the organizers – you have done a good job!

Nadezhda Pestikova, executive director of Congress Visit Bureau Sochi:

Now the industry has reached the stage when competition grows into cooperation. Of course, nobody forgets about competition, but we all are open to each other – I really felt it both at the workshop and at the educational sessions.

I liked the speaker list very much, there were the right accents. IMG Show visitors could acquire new professional competences, make useful professional acquaintances. The task of our company was to bring the region to the world level, to bring international events to Sochi, this is why there was no discussion about our participation in such a bright industry specific event – we knew from the beginning that we were going to take part in it!

Natalia Sizova, marketing manager of The Switzerland Convention and Incentive Bureau (SCIB):

IMG Show, as a “mood barometer” has shown that the Russian MICE market is on the positive wave, all the participants are aimed at doing their best and improving the service quality. A huge step forward has been made compared to the last year in terms of event organization and the contents of the hosted buyers program. The design of the meetings appointment system has become much more convenient. The event has launched its application that has a huge growth potential. The choice of the venue, the Museum of the Russian Impressionism, has been a nice surprise. I will definitely take my children there!

Khristina Alyoshina, sales director of Deutsche Hospitality in Russia:

We are very much satisfied with our participation in IMG Show, it has been successful for us!

The pre-planned meetings were held, moreover, other unscheduled participants visited us as well, so we have acquired lots of useful business contacts. We liked the format of the event very much, endless opportunities for networking. To hold an event in the Museum of Russian Impressionism is such an inventive and beautiful idea!

The dinner was on the top level, Russian fairy-tales and the ballet were faery.

Our special thanks to the organizers for their excellent support before and during the event.

Olga Ilyina, sales director of Perfectum:

A wonderful event! I would like to express my great appreciation to the organizers who have been holding such a useful event for our work and the growth of the MICE industry in general for three years already.

We were glad to meet our old colleagues, friends, partners, to meet new experts of our industry. Everything was done on the top world level. I especially liked the educational seminars, the speakers have chosen very useful, interactive and informative topics for discussion. We have had an opportunity to combine the useful with the pleasant and to plunge into the work of the famous artists in the Museum of the Russian Impressionism. I wish the organizers luck and prosperity!

Elza Abadovskaya, administrative manager of Medtronic:

I remember the first year of the exhibition – everything was great, but what we have seen this time is a real progress. The right venues, interesting exhibitors, new business contacts and efficient networking – all this is true about IMG Show. The organizers are real professionals. Hats off to them!

Marina Osipova