Please click here to post a new
Mark Dodds of Roythornes LLP
Where have all the sandwiches gone?
The positioning in your June issue of John Fisher’s ‘Not fit for purpose’ just before your survey of graduates (who felt they may not have enough experience) highlighted the gap that seems to have opened over the last decade between what industry requires and what education provides.
When I studied for my degree many years ago many of the courses were ‘thick sandwich’ courses, which enabled me to spend 18 months working in a real-life marketing team making phone calls, attending meetings and running projects. How valuable that experience was in shaping my skills and career aspirations.
But with my eldest son about to start his first year at university, I’m amazed at how few sandwich courses there are. Whether it’s a symptom of extortionate fees and students wanting to graduate as soon as possible or simply a drift apart, it has to be a concern.
How can graduates expect to get worthwhile positions when they have had no experience of sitting in a meeting or, as John says, completing a real cost sheet? Further education is meant to equip you for the real world and the sooner the practicality of courses returns the better it will be for the industry and for those who want to work within it.
Angela Kipling of Kipling Events
Cultural differences – what is charity?
A few weeks ago some ex-pat spouses, residents of the affluent coastal south suburbs of Athens, formed an organising committee to raise funds for a local animal shelter. A lot of hard work, effort, passion and no doubt sleepless nights, went into the design and delivery of a very successful and amazingly creative family beach day, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all concerned.
In stark contrast, of course, the Greek version of the CSR event is somewhat different: The director of an NGO-run children’s drop-in centre based in a deprived area of west Athens phoned me in the office. She says, “Hello, I hear you’re doing well – good. We need a complimentary coach on Thursday to take 30 children aged from three to six with adult volunteers to the beach in Schinias – about 9 o’clock will do nicely...”
Being British, of course I was flabbergasted by the directness, but have done exactly as I was told and we will be funding the aforementioned coach and driver for the day.
Being Greek, of course, I also thought I’d rope in a few more like-minded people who might also like to cover some useful items like ice cream, juice, sandwiches, buckets and spades, suntan cream, sun hats, floatation aids and so on. I was staggered by the rapidity and generosity of the response to about five or six phone calls!
There you go, a corporate social responsibility exercise, painlessly delivered Greek-style - ticked, done...
John Diamond of Diamond Events Services
Scotland is under-represented
The Scottish Events and Festivals Association is needed to give better representation to professionals working in the industry in Scotland (see news, May 20 2013). With all the the high profile events Scotland now attracts and the steady growth of business in our sector, it is essential that we have a collective voice to lobby and respond to local and national government and other stakeholders on matters that affect us.
For a number of reasons, mainly geographical, the industry in Scotland have generally considered themselves as separate to the industry down south. The response to and the attendance at the recent launch event clearly demonstrated an appetite for a body like SEFA. Irrespective of the independence question, the industry in Scotland is often under-represented in and by the established trade organisations which tend to be London-centric with their membership and networking opportunities. With SEFA, professionals working in the Scottish sector now have a trade body representing and focussed on the industry in Scotland. This enables better communication with the membership to discuss issues affecting the whole industry and those which specifically affect the Scottish sector.
Building on our successes and to ensure events and visitors keep coming to Scotland we need SEFA to help attract events business to Scotland by assisting members to ensure that the delivery of their services and events is to the highest standard possible.
David Hackett of MK16 0HB Moulsoe House
An open letter to IMEX exhibitors
Apologies that I will not be able to meet you at IMEX - nor indeed to reply to your invitation.
I shall be attending for just two days and based on my travel schedule and obligations as a Hosted Buyer to make 8 appointments per day, [each of 30 minutes duration], that has left me with just 4.5 hours of available show time.
Regrettably I have received 2946 emails inviting me to 'meet with us'. That would work out at 5.5 seconds per meeting, including time to transfer between stands.
Forgive me that I didn't send you a personal reply to decline your offer but since you didn't personalise your communication I guess you didn't really expect one.
Still, at least we all looked busy!
Have a good show.
Tracy Halliwell of London & Partners
London is a top-tier city
Re the findings in 'London tops European capitals for event costs': We are always keen to see new market research and we do support any insight into how London’s overall business offering can be as competitive as possible. However there is a question over the cities which have been selected and used in the comparison. London is a major global city which in terms of scale, size and offering can’t really be compared with the smaller European destinations such as Budapest and Zagreb.
London is a first tier conference destination. With that status and offering comes a reflective price tag. London is well connected, offers an array of choices and activities which you just wouldn’t get in a lower tier city. London’s status and cost if matched towards other global world cities such as New York, Barcelona, Paris and Hong Kong.
The benefits London offers as a top choice for business bringing their event to the capital are abundant and far-reaching and certainly tip the scales in terms of experience versus cost. Opportunities include ease of access to the city saving valuable business time and budget; the huge choice and scale of hotels and restaurants to suit any taste or purse – with over 110,000 rooms and 8,000 restaurants it is a buyers’ market – and London’s attractiveness as an event destination: recent statistics have shown booking in London can increase your delegate numbers by 15 per cent. This was more than demonstrated by Cisco Live coming to ICC London ExCeL which attracted 40 per cent more delegates when hosted in London than the previous years in Barcelona.
We also know that usual savvy business planners coming to London heavily research their events and activities and take advantage of the range of accommodation whilst also using free assistance from London & Partners as the CVB. We also know that events planners take advantage of London’s vast array of special offers and often use good value and reliable travel options – which many of the other cities may not have.
London also has a vast range of activities, events and iconic venues in London which are low cost or free including the majority of our world-class museums, Tower Bridge, Hyde Park, Southbank and Borough Market – in fact London offers over 250 free attractions in the capital, making it a fantastic value-for-money destination and give each and every visitor a great return for their investment.
Tracy Halliwell, Director of Business Tourism and Major Events at the CVB for London, London & Partners
Jennifer Jenkins of ABPCO Chair
'Free' Wi-Fi - mind the gap
The letter in the April edition of M&IT regarding free Wi-Fi not living up to expectations highlights that there is still a communications gap between some venues and conference organisers regarding what exactly is available in terms of a free level of Wi-Fi access. No doubt there are examples of expectations of Wi-Fi service not being met, or perhaps not defined from the outset. Improving this mutual understanding between venues and organisers is precisely what we at ABPCO aim to address with our white paper in conjunction with Max Wifi, developed as part of our Conference Cloud campaign.
I agree with the the need to deliver an appropriate level of service and Wi-Fi access to your conference delegates, something which is only possible when there is an understanding of requirements from the outset.
Venues do need to be clear on what their level of 'free' Wi-Fi covers and to investigate when the service falls short of expectations, but conference organisers also need to be clear on what the expected demands on the system from their delegates might be if we are to avoid disappointment.