Walking in the shoes of an attendee

By Megan Harrison

Blog

UK-based team members get to see the other side of meetings and events thanks to our new MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions) Experience initiative

At Ashfield Meetings & Events we take the ongoing development of our employees seriously. Not only is our training programme award-winning, but we are always looking for new and engaging ways to help equip our teams with the tools they need to excel in their role.

With this ever-learning, ‘toolkit’ culture in mind, in the UK we’ve recently launched our new ‘MICE Experience’ initiative. This is a bespoke program, in collaboration with our preferred partners, for members of our operations teams. It’s designed to showcase the best of the meetings industry while providing an opportunity to walk in the shoes of a meeting or event attendee. This gives those taking part the chance to really feel what it’s like from the other side, and recognize all the elements that go into creating that flawless experience we constantly strive to deliver.

Project Executive Megan Harrison took part in one of our latest MICE Experiences, which included a visit to The Congress Centre, London for the C&IT Summit. Here’s Megan’s story.

“I was delighted to be selected to be part of a brand new initiative at Ashfield Meetings & Events, a program called: The MICE Experience. This program is for members of the team who have, as yet, not experienced an industry tradeshow or FAM trip. It’s designed to give an insight into the attendee journey, showcase what our suppliers can offer and bring together a group of people from across the business to develop both internal and external relationships.

The day of the MICE Experience started like any normal day in the office; my laptop was running and my daily routine had begun. When 15:00 struck, our team of six set off for East Midlands Parkway where we would catch our train to London and our adventure would begin.

After chatting away and getting to know each other on the train, we had finally made it to the capital. Next stop, the hotel! On arrival at the Crowne Plaza, London Albert Embankment we checked into our stylish rooms and devoured the chocolates provided while gazing out at the wonderful views of Big Ben across the river.

After a brief freshen-up, we were then introduced to the hotel’s Sales Manager. Her friendly nature meant we were able to create a good bond for a working relationship in the future. The way she presented her vision of the hotel made it clear that she was extremely passionate about the property and we all bought into this. From our gourmet dinner to an extensive breakfast buffet the next morning, and everything in-between, we felt welcomed and valued: the service was definitely one to recommend.

Once we had indulged in the array of breakfast pastries, our stomachs full, we set off for the congress Centre. As soon as we got there, we were immersed into what it would be like to be a attendee for a day. Right from the beginning of the registration process, I had my scrutiny hat on looking for hints and tips and comparisons of how I deal with my clients. It was a great insight to see how it felt to be the one attending the event and that being greeted with a smile really does make all the difference.

The day began with a networking introduction where we were able to speak to some like-minded individuals about their jobs and interests. A particular highlight for me was a session with short debates given by event professionals on hot industry subjects; this provoked discussions and got people talking around the room. One subject that stood out in particular was - ‘What is the Future of Events?’ A panel, made up of a cross-section of event professionals, gave their insights into this topic. With knowledge and experience filling the room, this debate sparked my imagination, and it was fascinating to hear the discussions on ‘getting people to turn up to the events is no longer enough’ and ‘how media influencers can now reach different global markets’. We also learned that the power of social media means that an event attended by 1,000 can extend to reach ten times that amount through sharing the experience with their networks. It really opened my eyes as to how personalization and marketing strategies are imperative to the success of an event.

As well as other industry-led talks and interactive sellers such as EyeConart & VR Centre Experience, we also had a fantastic opportunity to speak with key suppliers ranging from hoteliers, conference centres, travel solution providers and technology platforms. This part of the day was very interesting as it enabled us to brush up on our product knowledge, and learn about new hotel and venue openings, as well as arming us with valuable information to deliver back to our colleagues. But the supplier networking sessions provided me with more than knowledge; this experience helped me to grow in confidence and understand the importance of building and strengthening relationships - definitely a key element of the trip.

Overall, the few days spent in London left its mark on the group and once we’d had time to reflect, we all agreed that we took a lot away from the experience. For some it built their confidence, for others, it was an opportunity to soak up industry information and connect with suppliers, but for all members of the group it was an experience that we would definitely recommend to our peers. Being involved in the MICE Experience program made me feel even more part of a team where our goals are alike and achievement is our aim. Networking with this group of colleagues, in a different environment to the norm also enabled us to bond as a group and broaden our circle of friendly faces in the office.

It really was invaluable to walk in the shoes of a meeting attendee and I know I’ll always use everything I’ve learned in my day-to-day role.”

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