Stanislavski`s system, elections, love confession and Russian ballet – incredible adventures of IMG Show-2016 guests

The sun, hearts, flowers, sea, palms, a fir tree … - and only bright colours! There was a canvas on the drawing easel, “IMG Show Square”, where everyone could express his emotions and impressions of the event, feelings towards the so much loved and dear meetings industry. Many guests were willing to participate in the painting improvisation, and the picture turned out to be joyful and bright. What it means is that the second International MICE Geography Show can be considered to be a success! The exhibition and the workshop organized by the Russian Association of Business Travel (ABT-ACTE Russia) was held in the Metropol on September 22-23 with the support of the Department for Multicultural Policy, Interregional Relations and Tourism of Moscow.

The venue gathered 80 Russian and foreign exhibitors and about 350 business travel and MICE experts. They included 50 invited corporate buyers from Saint Petersburg, Irkutsk, Ekaterinburg, Perm, Novosibirsk, Tyumen, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Samara and Yaroslavl. It is hard to imagine, but during the workshop, more than a 1000 pre-planned meetings were held. And useful contacts established during cocktails, coffee breaks and the entertainment part were numerous!

I love you, Moscow!

The participants spent their free time to good purpose and pleasure. For example, they tried to find differences between a child`s drawing and that of a famous painter. An expert of MoreThan.Travel, visual editor and a psychologist Ekaterina Karnatskaya offered them a test of their understanding of modern art. The guests could also have a test drive of Switzerland, participate in the Russian tea ceremony, listen to musical improvisation on the hang and learn many new interesting things about this unusual instrument, try their luck in a lottery, taste drinks from different countries and take part in the “Interactive sommelier” game. Or to write down their thoughts about Moscow with Montblanc Corner pens.

By the way, the first note in this album was made on the very first day of IMG Show by deputy head of the Department for Multicultural Policy, Interregional Relations and Tourism of Moscow Konstantin Goryainov. What is good about MICE in the Russian capital, why should you hold events here? Mr Goryainov wrote down three reasons: facilities, interested corporate buyers and ABT-ACTE Russia with its chairman Vadim Zelenski! “Moscow is the centre for culture, offering the best hotels and service, and a creative approach”, is the opinion of Valery Ishunkin, senior regional director of The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. in Russia, Ukraine and the CIS. And S7 Airlines representatives are sure that it is “the best city of the world”. “I love you, Moscow”, Olga Ilyina, head of sales department of Perfectum-m made her confession in the album.

Knowledge is never too much

The event started with the educational program. What criteria should you be guided with when you choose a provider? The experts, corporate buyers, spoke on this topic. Thus, when Bayer holds a tender for MICE agencies, the main attention is paid to the reputation of the prospective partner. Opportunities of the agency to provide safety of event participants and its environmental protection policy play a huge role. “Besides, there is an obligatory provision on business operations ethics in every contract. All the companies we are going to work with undergo a complex examination procedure and analysis of corruption risks exposure”, senior event manager of the group of companies Angelica Snitko expressed her opinion.

Bayer also assesses cooperation terms: a provider is expected to ensure transparency of accounting and financial documents, expertise of managers etc. “We consider it important for the partner to keep up with market changes – the latest processes, technologies, facilities. To react to them and to propose new ideas to us”, the expert stressed. The cost is only in the fifth, the last place.

As for Campari, it is the price they are focused at now. Procurement manager Irina Nikulina spoke about the transportation company selection process. “In modern conditions it is important to reconcile procurement policy requirements and internal customer expectations on service quality, while staying within budged”, the speaker noted. In order to have the realistic picture, Ms Nikulina advised to compare not provider rates themselves, but the total cost of the whole transportation volume, for a year, for example.

Nevertheless, corporations are not ready to make concessions in the issues of car park quality and service level in order to get a lower price. These criteria are always taken into consideration when the provider is chosen. As well as competitive advantages – say, an opportunity to choose a car, wide geography of presence in the regions, etc. Campari checks financial stability of the prospective partner as well.

Magdagachi, where is it?

Lanit group of companies chooses a travel management company according to the same basic criteria, as Bayer chooses a MICE agency. However, their contents differ. “If we speak about cooperation terms, provision of an OBT by the TMC and an opportunity to test the system online go in the first place for us. It is also very important to have an opportunity to arrange an implant office, a 24/7 service in Moscow, provider`s readiness to sign a SLA – we have a quality assurance unit”, Elizaveta Grigorieva, head of business travel department noted.

The expert stresses that a TMC is a service company. “When we order services, we inevitably get a pig in a poke, because we can really assess a service only after it has been provided”, Elizaveta expressed her opinion. “Our company pays special attention to the coverage of Russia and prefers to deal with the provider that can offer good accommodation, say, in Magdagachi”.

Irina Kostyukova, head of business travel in Kaspersky Lab spoke about a hotel selection tender, and to be more precise, about an electronic auction. In her words, it is necessary to hold such a tender when two conditions are met: presence of competitive environment in a certain location (more than five hotels with a similar price/quality ratio) and a certain purchasing power of your company (more than one thousand nights).

According to the speaker, general selection criteria include location (proximity to company offices), financial terms (rates, breakfast and Internet included, LRA and the amount of blackout dates, late cancellation option and so on), quality (year of construction/repair, room size and furnishing – presence of a safe, a kettle, an iron). “We also pay attention to facilities – whether there are shuttles to the airport, cafés and restaurants, fitness, a swimming pool. Payment methods and booking procedures are also important”, the expert shared her experience.

Ms Kostyukova spoke in detail about the criteria of the auction itself. “It is a detailed description of point two of general criteria – financial provisions, because you cannot include non-material criteria into electronic tenders. We take into account the cost of a standard room and a superior room, including breakfast and Internet, a long stay discount, payment for late check-out, as well as the amount of penalty for visa support non-usage”, Irina explained. After the auction is over and finalists have been determined according to price criteria, these results are included into the rating table together with non-material criteria and ultimate winners are chosen.

Educational program moderator, director of MICE and DMC department of ZCTS Aleksey Sergeechev noted that the post-payment option was not mentioned among provider selection criteria in any of the speeches. Nevertheless, everyone knows that it is a sore subject for the Russian market.

“When the financial department and the procurement department try to answer it, they come to completely different conclusions”, Irina Nikulina took the floor. “Financial department staff also have their own KPI’s, they are responsible for making the business they are in charge of work on post payment conditions as much as possible. As a procurement expert, I try to analyze and compare offers in terms of our corporate funding and the funding we get from the provider, which is more expensive, as a rule. And I explain to the financial department, how much post payment will cost us”.

Management board chairman of Baltic Travel Group Vlad Koryagin expressed his attitude to post payment in his speech: “An ideal customer for us is a customer who respects our work, appreciates our service quality, observes his obligations. And of course, makes payments in due time. We do not like at all customers who ask for post payment. No-one likes them! If you want to be discussed by providers who do not like you, you are welcome. It is not our profile”.

Director of centralized purchase and procurement department of Eldorado Boris Puzitsky named the main differences between purchases in business travel and MICE categories. “In order to offer “the best price for kettles” in our shops, we have to cut back office expenses. This is why our approach to business travel is quickly (the agency should give a reply within four hours day and night) and cheap. To arrange an event that is aimed at surprising and entertaining its participants is a completely different matter. MICE is something reasonable and pleasant”, the expert noted. “The price is not the main aspect here, because your budget is limited in any case. It really matters what you will be offered for this money”. The speaker also added that MICE was not copied, unlike business travel, that is purchases in this category have to be done selectively. However, you can do them for a year ahead as well.

Choose sport

Personal examples of Maria Anufrieva (Finnair), Natalia Morozova (CWT), Vadim Zelenski (ZCTS) and Eduard Grigoriev (Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority) inspired educational program participants. The speakers told their stories about how sport had changed their lives, improved health and become part of corporate culture of the company. Vadim Zelenski stressed that sport helped set priorities. Endless tasks only eat up our time, and some of them turn out to be inefficient and useless in the end. So maybe you could spend this time on making yourself better? And you could easily settle important business tasks with your partners while running – there is even a “conversational pace” in this kind of sport.

The speech of chief editor of BBT Russia Svetlana Denikina was as bright; she launched a real election campaign. The candidate was the latest Yearbook - a report prepared by ABT-ACTE Russia on the Russian business travel market in 2015.

The candidate`s program says: future belongs to the profession of a travel manager! More than 43% of companies surveyed already had a department that specialized solely in business trip arrangement. At the same time, more than a half of respondents (62%) said they had already consolidated departments dealing with business travel purchases and MICE. “Procurement activities consolidation is a world trend that lets you optimize your budget, build the strategic process of business travel and MICE management”, the speaker explained.

The “party” also has an “official ideology” – travel policy has been introduced in more than 80% of corporations. Its key priorities (the respondents were asked to point out not more than three of them) included determination of service classes and flight and accommodation limits (63% of those surveyed), getting special fares and rates from service providers (50%), choice of preferred providers (47%). Then go provision of safety and comfort to the employees (44$), compliance control (40%). And as for the introduction of corporate cards and other payment solutions, such as technology integration (OBT and mobile applications), they are far from being on the agenda: only 19% and 13% respondents mentioned them correspondingly. Nevertheless, the survey showed that more than a half of the market had already started using online booking tools (more than 46%), and TMCs remained the main OBT providers in more than 69% of cases.

According to the survey, about 34% of companies spent more than 30 million rubles on business travel in 2015. At the same time 51% noted that the number of business trips had even increased. Events did not become more numerous, although 67% of corporations managed to keep their amount at the previous level. As for the “external policy”, last year Russia was the most requested MICE destination for 65% of companies.

Head of group and conference department of HRG Russia Arina Negina devoted her speech to venue selection criteria. In the expert`s words, there are five key factors: location, cost, size, suitability for the target audience and the event format in terms of style and level, quality (customer focus, service, meals, technical facilities). And in every particular case one of these factors may be the decisive one.

Taking into consideration that nowadays sale depth is as small as it has never been before, do not hesitate to set certain time boundaries for getting a reply to your request”, the speaker advised. “Make a preliminary booking for the dates you have chosen – it does not usually commit you to anything, but you will have some more time to make the decision”.

The expert also dwelled on venue search methods. Meeting and event venues may be found, requested for and booked through technological platforms, such as Cvent and StarСite/Layon. They are widely used abroad. But, in the expert`s words, their time in the Russian market has not come yet, customers prefer to make their search in the same old way, for example, through the word of mouth. Online venue catalogues like or the Russian ones -,, are also popular. In the speaker`s opinion, their disadvantage is their focus on one certain field. “The easiest and the most efficient way is to resort to a professional agent to choose a venue”, Ms Negina is convinced.

Play characters

When you arrange any type of event, it is very important to study target audience behaviour, “to find the passion that will hold the guests` attention”. General director of MarketEmotions Ilya Gorbachev and creative director of the company Elena Gorbacheva shared their secrets of event psychology.

“Konstantin Sergeevich Stanislavski said that there were no small roles on the stage. In real life, every character, attention to details are important as well. Do not forget about small details, cherries on the cake that will set the participants for the right mood”, Elena said.

Experts from MarketEmotions use the system of the famous theatre reformer to work out the creative concept of the event. Thus, characters of the play are the target audience. “It is very important to understand the essence of the role – what the audience is driven by. Say, sales department employees are hyperactive, as a rule. They like to be in the centre of action, to come out to the stage themselves. It is important to arrange photo zones for them, master classes and so on. IT department staff are a completely different matter”, Mr Gorbachev explained. “It is important to achieve the super-task – the key targets, for example, to improve loyalty or to present a new product. And to work out the possible circumstances – the atmosphere we plunge our characters into – the sea, mountains, an exotic landscape or a hall. The plot is our scenario, where we are going, what we are trying to achieve. And the performance is the contents of the program, for example, a play, a conference, etc.”

The speakers suggested the guests in the hall imagined they were actors, the staff of an international milk processing plant. In order to celebrate its 20th anniversary in the Russian market, managers of the company invite everyone to Sochi, in order to thank them for the great result and to stress the business scale. Having split into groups, participants of the educational program tried on the roles of production executives in the regions of Russia, business development directors, employees of marketing and PR, accounting, HR, as well as IT departments. When they got the feel of their parts, they told everyone what they expected from the meeting at the airport, the business part, activities and the dinner program. And then there was a bit of magic – event concept appeared that would be exciting for all the participants!

“The conference has been very useful. The last speech – the game part with the involvement of the audience, as well as the presentation of survey results of the latest Yearbook were the most remarkable”, travel coordinator of Jabil Anastasiya Gurina shared her impressions. “I think it`s time for us to switch to the online booking system. The agency we work with has such software, but it is not available for our department of the factory yet, although many of us would like to get access to it as well”.

“I liked the event, like all the events organized by ABT-ACTE Russia – here we always get useful or the latest information that we adopt, process and introduce in our company”, Julia Zolotareva, general director assistant of Step said. “As for me, today the brightest part of the educational program was the topic of event mangement psychology. It is very close to me, because work is not just a set of some mechanical actions, but a process that is based on cooperation, relations. It was very interesting to listen to experts, what areas of common interest they find with their customers, what they make focus at”.

In the Russian style

The gala dinner «MICE Dream a la Russe» was probably the brightest event of IMG Show-2016, it gathered representatives of more than 200 companies from 34 countries of the world. In the luxurious main hall of the Metropol the ballet company of Diaghilev International Art Centre performed ballet dances from the repertoire of the great Anna Pavlova, and Honoured Artist of Russia Yuri Shivrin spellbound the guests with Fedor Shalyapin`s “Dubinushka” performed a capella.


Master of ceremonies of the evening was general director of Special Project Agency Sergey Armishev. Guests were greeted by ABT-ACTE Russia chairman Vadim Zelenski, deputy head of the Department for Multicultural Policy, Interregional Relations and Tourism of Moscow Konstantin Goryainov and general manager of the Metropol Dominique Goda.

Like a year ago, during the gala dinner, videos of the participants of virtual tenders were demonstrated and winners were awarded. Let us remind you, the largest Russian and global corporate buyers of business travel and MICE services placed their detailed RFPs for corporate event arrangement on IMG Show website. And providers could demonstrate their skills by replying to the request they were most interested in with a short video.

Thus, Mary Kay placed a tender for a seven day incentive trip for 20 program finalists (best sales managers) accompanied by their husbands in September 2017. Business travel agency Zelenski Corporate Travel Solutions was chosen as a probable event organizer. L’Oreal had a virtual request for teambuilding for 80 Moscow and regional employees. The customer was most of all impressed by the presentation provided by Go2Armenia Travel Company – the travellers were invited to hospitable Armenia!

Sshikom Creative Group could arrange a prospective corporate event in the new office of Saint Gobain. And Liberty International Tourism Group could organize a top-level meeting for more than 50 executives of MegaFon. Experts of Special Project Agency could easily send 30 representatives of sales department of Diageo from different regions of Russia on an incentive and educational trip in summer 2017. Rzd Tour was ready to organize Road Show for ESET in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Ekaterinburg and Novosibirsk.

All those who came to the stage that evening spoke about their favourite places in the capital. Mayakovsky square, museum-reserves Kolomenskoye and Tsaritsyno, the Metropol…Moscow is different for everyone, wonderful and hospitable. Now, due to IMGS guests will have more places that are favourite.

Natalia Travova