New Year, New Challenges!


This past month I have started a new job as Meeting Architect of Kenes Group. Kenes is one of the largest PCOs specialized in medical congresses, with offices all over the world, from Bangkok to Buenos Aires!

I shall work with Kenes’ internal teams and clients to design more interactive and effective congresses and measure the results.

The congress sector is undergoing many changes and there is more pressure than ever to deliver effective events that will continue to attract many delegates. As far as I am aware, Kenes is the first PCO to create the position of Meeting Architect, focusing on the content and results of meetings.

I am thrilled to have been offered this opportunity, it is a really unique position, but I’m scared too, breaking new ground means failures as well as successes…

In this blog I will be sharing what I learn in this exciting new journey. Stay tuned!

Advertisements

LeWeb a.k.a. the playground for adults: a meeting design case study


A few months ago, I read an article at the Event Manager Blog that said that conferences are the perfect playgrounds for adults. Well, I think LeWeb couldn’t be a better example of that. This was my first time attending this conference (thanks to Conferize who gave away 1 ticket!) and it’s been a truly fascinating experience. I not only learned a lot about the latest technology innovations and met countless of serial entrepreneurs, but also came away with many meeting design ideas.

I believe that LeWeb does many things very well. For starters, it was an almost flawless meeting – despite being a 3,000+ conference, with hectic schedules (some presentations only lasted for 5 minutes!), there were almost no delays and no technical or logistical flaws (that I noticed). It felt more like being in a TV set instead of a conference! In terms of meeting design, I observed quite a few things:

1. Branding: you only need to look at pictures to see their logo all over the place. I’ve probably never seen a logo so many times in a conference. They’re very good at including LeWeb image and colours everywhere, especially close to the stage. So, the logo was inevitably in most of the pictures that were taken. I think that many times, especially for corporate events, we forget about that. But branding is so important if we want to create buzz around the event and build a community! I also loved the design of the stages: lots of mirrors, textiles, sofas and lamps – simple but very classy.

LeWeb logo all over the stage

LeWeb logo all over the stage

Elegant decor for the second stage

Elegant decor for the second stage

2. Impactful beginning: when I do presentations about meeting design, I always say that setting the tone during the first 10 minutes of a conference is key. I’ve experienced it myself many times – if you want your audience to interact, start by asking them to do something. That will set their expectations. At LeWeb they got this right too – they started with a guided meditation for everyone (the auditorium was packed). It was followed by an interview of one of the keynote speakers over breakfast – Loic Le Meur and the speaker were literally having coffee and eating a croissant – simple but caught my attention.

IMG_20141209_100126IMG_20141209_095554

3. Really dynamic presentation formats: I thought they did a great at combining speaker presentations (no longer than 20 minutes each), panels and interviews. Most of them were actually Q&A panels and interviews, which are very engaging but I don’t see them that often at conferences – and I don’t know why? Besides being engaging, it gives people the chance to ask questions, but also it’s the perfect solution to having a speaker that hasn’t got the best presentation skills. However, I did miss not having time for reflection nor roundtable discussions… but with thousands of delegates, would that work? (To LeWeb’s credit, there were a few small roundtable discussions and workshops running in parallel. I attended a couple of them and they were great). I should also point out that, even though there were over 3,000 attendees, most of the time there were only 2 main sessions going on at the same time. I’ve been to many conferences with far less people and many more sessions. I believe LeWeb’s approach is preferable: many psychological studies say that when we have too many choices, we are often less happy (because of the so-called FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out). Someone told me that at SXSW they have up to 56 sessions in parallel, which is outrageous, although they do have 50,000 delegates. In my opinion, having 2 or 3 choices is enough, so kudos to LeWeb!

4. I missed more facilitated networking – obviously networking is one of the main reasons why people go to LeWeb, but there weren’t any formally structured activities to help me meet who I wanted to meet. So I probably lost many opportunities. Yes, I know you can contact people over the event app but it’d have been nice to have recommendations based on similar interests, for example. Also, most of the sessions had a theatre style seating, which made it difficult to meet people as well.

Main room

Main room

5. The moderators were just GREAT. They used many moderators throughout the 3 days, but the one I saw more often was Loic Le Meur, LeWeb’s founder. He did such a good job at keeping our attention, controlling the time, asking interesting questions and striking a good balance between his questions and the audience’s. I also noticed Loic’s ability for really listening to the speaker and reflect on the content. Unfortunately, that’s not something so common between moderators and facilitators. Perhaps it’s because of his mindfulness daily practice?

6. Well-curated content. I’m not an expert in the topics (mostly technological innovations and start-ups), but I understand the conference is really well thought-after (let’s not forget, though, that the conference fee is 2.500€! I wish I’d had that budget when I was curating conferences!). Nevertheless, hats off to LeWeb for designing a programme that had a perfect flow and mindblowing content. The speaker presentations were also quite consistent in terms of quality, dynamism, attention to slide design, conciseness.

7. As I said before, the logistics were flawless, even the wifi was excellent! I also liked the VIP seats that they had on the stage for press, bloggers, sponsors and speakers. If creating buzz around your event is one of your goals, why not offer to media and bloggers a table, a comfortable chair, a socket and a privileged spot? Another highlight was the exhibition and networking area: it was designed in a way that there were almost no “dead areas” and in between sessions the space was packed. A special mention as well to the food: the catering was excellent, and I could even taste Iberian ham and my favourite French meal, parmentier de canard!

Exhibition and networking area

Exhibition and networking area

Iberian ham at the Spain booth

Iberian ham at the Spanish booth

Parmentier de canard

Parmentier de canard

Finally, here’s a few cool predictions I learned about:

1. Healthcare apps will be the big hit in 2015, as well as crowdsourced /peer-to-peer services like Blablacar, airbnb or drivy. More and more of these startups will go public, and their funding and execution will dictate which start ups win.

2. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web (who was my favourite speaker) had mixed feelings about whether internet will remain neutral or not (the other scenario is that a few corporations and governments will control the information we access). He argued that “the robots are already here“, they are the corporations and in some of them, humans can’t apply for jobs.

3. Wearables will become ubiquitous and will make lots of data available. Some of the fun wearables or so-called “enchanted objects” that we saw are an umbrella that lights up when the weather forecast says it’s going to rain or a wallet that’s connected to your bank account, and it becomes harder to open as you’re running out of money.

4. Driveless cars are coming much more quickly than anyone realizes, perhaps in 5 years they will be mainstream, as well as electric cars. We’ll have different lanes for humans and robots.

5. The rise of the crowd economy: healthcare, corporate, transportation, utilities, cities, trucks, hospitals, police, university lectures – peer-to-peer sharing is now really everywhere.

6. In the future we’ll be able to use technology to “rewrite” the brain and to read someone else’s brain, and know if they’re saying the truth or not.

Truly astonishing stuff for a sublime conference.

As a closing thought: they say that Millenialls spend more money on experiences than on consuming products – so I predict that conferences will be even more on the rise in the near future, as others have also argued. They are the ultimate playground for those who are curious about the world and love meeting like-minded people.

Have you got inspiration from other conferences that you’ve attended? Would love to hear your meeting design ideas!

IMG_20141210_172032_1IMG_20141209_113027IMG_20141209_151109IMG_20141210_184119

Tips from an adopted Parisian to enjoy the city during LeWeb


This week I’ve won a fantastic competition run by Conferize – the prize is 1 ticket to attend LeWeb! As a very curious person and a lover of conferences, I’m overly excited about the opportunity to attend one of the most fresh and forward thinking events in the world.

So I thought that I’d take this opportunity  to write a blog post on what to do in Paris during LeWeb. Now, I’m not French, but I feel like an “adopted” Parisian: I’ve spent a lot of time in this city and for almost 2 years I’ve been working for a Paris-based start-up company, so I come here every month and I hang out with locals. Paris is absolutely one of my favourite cities in the world. It’s so huge that obviously there are a million things to do here, but I’ll share with you my favourite off the beaten path spots and tips for business travellers like you.

Getting around the city and to LeWeb:

First of all, the closest airport to the venue is Charles de Gaulle, in case you don’t have your flight ticket yet! From CDG airport you may take a taxi (check out the discount LeWeb offers here) or the train, which stops in most central train stations. Beware that Uber taxis may be more expensive, because of the conference.  If you arrive via Orly, there are trains but also buses from AirFrance.

One of my favourite things about Parisian airports is that the wifi is fantastic: Barclays offers unlimited wifi for free (there is a paid premium version, but unless you have to do a video conference call, I think you’ll be just fine). Also, here’s a great tip: if you want to bring a nice souvenir, some macarons from Ladurée will always be appreciated! And you can find Ladurée outlets in both Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports.

Ladurée outlet at the airport

Ladurée outlet at the airport

If you’re into running, this is probably not the best time to be in Paris because it’s quite chilly and it rains often. Also, the city has an stunning number of beautiful parks that are perfect for doing sports, however in the winter time they close early, by 5 or 6pm. Therefore, I usually just run in the street or around parks.

Another practical tip: if you run out of toothpaste, need to buy some basic clothes or whatever you left at home, Monoprix is a great place to go: you’ll find many of them around the city.

Places to visit:

As I said, there are many things to see in Paris but here I offer you an alternative plan, popular between locals. A very nice way to spend half a day is to do this tour: first off you start your stroll at the Canal St. Martin, and walk from Gare de l’Est to the Bastille. Then you can spend some time in the 4th, 6th and 7th arrondissements. I especially like Le Marais (the 4th): it’s gorgeous (it’s the oldest quartier in Paris) and it’s full of relaxing cafes and fashionable shops. I also love St. Germain des Pres (the 6th) and the Jardin de Luxembourg, probably one of the most beautiful parks in the city. Also not so far away is the library Shakespeare & Company, where Ernest Hemingway and many other writers have lived. If you’re a book lover, this is your paradise!

Canal St. Martin

Canal St. Martin

Shakespeare & Company

Shakespeare & Company

Afterwards you can continue onto the Musée d’Orsay and the Voie sur Berge, which boasts many shops and cafes on top the river. At the Voie sur Berge you may have a drink or two in the famous Rosa Bonheur. And if you still have energy, you can end the trip at the Palais de Tokyo, which hosts amazing contemporary art collections.

Rosa Bonheur in Voie sur Berge

Rosa Bonheur in Voie sur Berge

If you’re into art, you may also want to visit the recently launched Louis Vuitton Foundation, whose building is from architect Frank Gehry. And if you’re feeling Christmassy,  head to the Champs Elysées or the Galeries Lafayette to contemplate their Christmas decorations.

Foundation Louis Vuitton

Foundation Louis Vuitton

Finally, if you want great views of the city without going to the super touristic Eiffel Tower, you can go for a ride with a hot air balloon!

Places to eat:

Not too far from the area where the convention centre is, in the district of Batignolles, there is a charming street called Rue Legendre (closest metro station is La Fourche). This street offers a wide range of nice restaurants famous between locals. One of my favourite ones is an Italian restaurant called Fuxia.

Rue Legendre, Batignolles

But if you want to try authentic French cuisine, I recommend you go to this typical French Bistro called Le Restaurant du Marché. Their food is top quality (my personal favourite is their Parmentier du canard) and the customer service is great. It’s a bit far from the centre of Paris, but you’ll probably not find any tourists there!

Inside the Restaurant du Marché

Inside the Restaurant du Marché

Parmentier du canard

Parmentier du canard

Other restaurants that stand out in Paris are Le Cornichon, Le Cantine du Troquet, Afaria or Sanukiya (best for Japanese ramen). If you’re looking for upscale restaurants, then I recommend Le Chateaubriand or Le Dauphin.

And for a quick bite, la Briochée Doree is a nice alternative to McDonald’s! It’s a large French chain, you’ll find shops in most streets.

I hope you enjoyed these tips and please do let me know if you have any questions!

Enjoy Paris and see you at LeWeb!

EIBTM review: the trade show of a grown-up industry


So once more, another fantastic edition of EIBTM comes to an end. I’ve attended this show for the past 5 years, as a visitor, an exhibitor, a speaker and even as staff! (last year I project managed the Innovation Zone). This year though, it was a relaxing one for me – I only had to speak at one session and attend a few meetings. Therefore, I had time to wander around, go to some educational sessions and catch up with friends and colleagues. I have many takeaways from this year’s exhibition, but if I have to choose one word to sum it up, it’s MATURITY. I’m a relatively new comer to the meetings industry, but this year I could sense, in many ways, that meeting professionals are “growing up”. Let me explain it:

1. The first example of Maturity is EIBTM itself: this year, the trade show has gone back to the basics, slashing many educational sessions and focusing on its raison d’être, facilitating business connections. If there is less education, delegates spend more time on the show floor with exhibitors. This makes sense, and even more in this day and age, where we can find so much information online (some people argue that speaker presentations will no longer exist in a few years, since it’s all available online – I don’t agree though). EIBTM has also changed its name, in 2015 it will be called IBTM World. Personally, I find it a good move, this trade show is truly a melting pot of people from all over the world! The organizers can certainly be proud: there was an 8% increase in attendance (over 15.000 visitors!). I also spoke with some exhibitors who told me that, for the first time ever, they had closed deals on the spot. That’s certainly good news for everyone involved.

Loved the hustle and bustle of the show floor!

Loved the hustle and bustle of the show floor!

2. There is much more interest in the content side of meetings. The educational programme was overwhelmingly dominated by the topic of meeting design. I myself co-presented a session on it, we had a large audience and by the level of the questions that we were asked, I can tell most were not beginners. It’s as if meeting planners (finally) realize that they create valuable events when they focus on fostering education and networking, besides booking nice hotels. Also, the FRESH dinner (the place to be if you’re into meeting design) was the busiest ever this year. By the way, all sessions were livestreamed and made available on-demand here.

The audience at our session on Meeting formats

The audience at our session on Meeting formats

And this was the stage where we presented

And this was the stage where we presented

3. Tech start ups are no longer the “new kids on the block”. Event technology companies are getting bigger, booking larger stands, and more tellingly, no longer need to educate their customers so much. Now pretty much everyone knows what an event app is, understands that technology should be used meaningfully and is not so afraid of using gadgets and the venue’s wifi. American Express Meetings & Events said that in North America, hybrid meetings are on the rise (albeit flat in EMEA). Some of the new trends in technology are ibeacons and augmented reality, but in my opinion, for now they are just fancy technologies, with no real added value for event organizers just yet.

Having fun with augmented reality at the Innovation Zone

Having fun with augmented reality at the Innovation Zone

View of the Innovation Zone

View of the stunning Innovation Zone

4. Event planners are becoming experts at using Social Media. Obviously we’re all still learning and there’s much room for improvement, however, I think we’re in high school now! If you read the latest ebook from Event Manager’s Blog, which was released during EIBTM, you’ll see much more sophisticated information and case studies on using Social Media networks at events. Therefore, we are moving from beginners to advanced users. Still, when I asked a panel of so-called “Social Media experts” about the role of bloggers, most said that they didn’t know any MICE blogger. Well, I think it’s time to look at how other industries are taking advantage of bloggers and use those strategies for event and destination marketing. By the way, some interesting data here: most of the Trip Advisor reviews are positive (the average is 4.6/5), so there is no need to be afraid of social media reviews!

Finally, thanks to the Meeting Design Institute (and all the sponsors of the Video Corner) we recorded a video that explains what The Conference Goer’s Blog is all about. You can check it out here.

Did you go to EIBTM? What was your experience of the trade show? Do you agree with my conclusion that the meeting professional has grown up? And if you read my previous blog post on Tips from a local to enjoy Barcelona, please share what your experience was!

Energizing break at the Innovation Zone by Magdalina Atanassova

Energizing break at the Innovation Zone by Magdalina Atanassova

Tips from a local to enjoy Barcelona during EIBTM


It’s that time of the year again.. it’s EIBTM time! EIBTM has always been my favourite industry trade show: it’s an event that’s close to my heart, I always find value in their networking and educational activities, and it takes place in my hometown, Barcelona! If you’re travelling to EIBTM next week, don’t miss my tips to make the most of your trip. Be it the first time you visit the city, or your 20th, I believe you’ll find something interesting here!

At the airport:

Barcelona’s airport is quite large but modern and efficient. It’s easy to find your way around, security lines are quite quick (I’ve never had to wait for longer than 6 or 7 minutes) and there are many services that you can use. If you’re on a budget, I recommend eating at Pans & Company. The shop is located behind Burberry’s (at the left of Zara) and has many sandwiches, salads and pastries that are good and much cheaper than at the other airport restaurants.  If you don’t mind spending a bit more, you may like the new Illy shop with the famous Italian coffee and some food. The bar is located next to the A gates (on the left side of the terminal, usually a bit far from most departure gates).

If you have time to spare, I recommend having a look at Natura shop, it’s got interesting presents and souvenirs. Finally, the wifi is available for free but only for 15 minutes, and the signal is rather poor (for better quality, you may use Skype credit for example, or a subscription service like Boingo). If you, like me, spend time working at the airport, know that in El Prat it’s hard to find sockets, so bring the batteries charged!

Terminal 1, Barcelona-El Prat airport

Terminal 1, Barcelona-El Prat airport

Getting to the city:

When you arrive at the airport, you can take a taxi or the Aerobus to the centre (a return ticket costs 10,20€). It leaves every 5 minutes or so from both terminal 1 and 2 (during off-peak times there is less frequency). You get to the final destination, Plaça Catalunya (Barcelona’s main square) in around 30 minutes, but it stops at a couple of places before too.

One word of caution here: beware of taxis.. even the licensed ones (which are the ones you’ll find at the airport’s taxi stop). If they know you’re a tourist, they may take you on a lounger route! It’s happened to me a few times (I don’t have a strong Spanish accent, so people often think I’m a foreigner). The way to avoid this is to check in advance what’s the quickest way to your destination (perhaps ask your hotel, or ask me!) and tell the driver that’s the way you want to go. And don’t let them fool you! Having said this, most taxi drivers are nice people. Also, beware that not all taxis have credit card terminals, so if you don’t have cash, ask in advance if you can pay by card (or ask the driver to stop at an ATM machine, I do that often!).

Getting around the city and to EIBTM:

Taxis in Barcelona are not expensive  (if they don’t take you on a longer route than necessary!) but if you’re going to be using the metro (which it’s quite efficient) or public transport in general, I recommend you buy a ticket with 10 trips (called T-10). You can buy them at any metro or train station (but not on buses, for example). Bear in mind that the closest station to EIBTM (Fira Gran Via 2) is not a metro station but a train station (from Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat). You can take the train at Plaça Espanya, there you’ll see plenty of signs to EIBTM. The same T-10 allows you to take both the metro and the train.

The weather is quite mild, but depending on the year it can be much warmer or colder, especially now that the weather is all over the place (just 2 weeks ago people were still going to the beach, while now we’re wearing winter jackets!). It doesn’t rain much, but you should bring an umbrella just in case.

If you’re into running and jogging, the 3 most popular public spaces to go to are the Diagonal avenue (especially towards the two ends), the Montjuic mountain and the beach (especially the Mar Bella or Vila Olimpica beaches).

Running in Diagonal Avenue

Running in Diagonal Avenue

Places to visit off the beaten path:

There are many events parallel to EIBTM, but if you want to do something on your own, you can try going to Rambla del Poblenou for a real Ramblas feel (the original “Las Ramblas” is the biggest tourist trap in Barcelona). Here I recommend going to Can Recasens, a favourite between locals: stunning venue and delicious (and quite cheap) food. However, I strongly recommend you to book in advance. Also, beware that they do 2 shifts for dinner: at 9pm and at 11pm, so you can only go at those times. Just in case you don’t know yet, Spaniards tend to have dinner quite late, from 9pm onwards. But it’s such a touristic city that you won’t have problems having dinner earlier, in most restaurants.

The Rambla del Poblenou

The Rambla del Poblenou

Can Recasens

Can Recasens

Entrance to Can Recasens

Entrance to Can Recasens

Something I also recommend you to do is going to Mirablau (for coffee or cocktails) or Mirabé (for dinner). They are next to each other, sitting on top of the Tibidabo mountain, and both offer breathtaking views of Barcelona.

View of the city from Tibidabo

View of the city from Tibidabo

Another option is to try the new El Nacional, in the middle of Passeig de Gràcia (the well-known boulevard filled with luxury shops). It is a huge venue with different spaces that offer all kinds of options to eat and drink quality Spanish food. The place is strikingly beautiful too. However,  the queues to have dinner may be long (I waited for over 30 minutes).

If you are looking for Spanish tapas, there are obviously many places to choose from but I usually go to a chain called Taller de Tapas, there are quite a few in the main areas. One of the most acclaimed restaurant for tapas is “Cal Pep” in El Born (a beautiful district not far from the centre), but it is extremely busy (and closed on Sundays), so be aware (it’s a bit pricey too).

A nice experience is to have a cup of hot chocolate with churros at one of the cafes in Petritxol street, a small street parallel to Las Ramblas. All cafes are quite similar, just choose the one you like the most!

Xurros with chocolate

Hot chocolate with churros

The Sagrada Familia may be very touristic, but it is worth paying a visit if you’ve never been (and if you have, maybe too, as it may have changed!). Finally, if you have half a day left, you may want to visit Sitges, a picturesque coastal town just 30 minutes away from Barcelona (you have to take the Renfe train at Estacio de Sants station). It is one of the most beautiful towns in Spain.

Sitges

Sitges

If you have any questions or would like other tips, please ask me! And if you do visit some of these places, please share your experience here.

See you at EIBTM!

 

The collaborative economy debated during Catalonia’s World Tourism Day event


The 1st of October is the World Tourism Day and to celebrate it, Catalonia’s Tourist Agency put together a memorable evening. The event started with a conference where leading industry experts discussed the hottest topics in 2 roundtables at the Fira de Barcelona’s Convention Centre. It was followed by an awards ceremony and a dinner at the magnificent Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC).

The topic of the first session was the role and impact of the new collaborative economy in the tourism industry. In many countries around the world, and in Spain in particular, there have been many debates lately around services like Airbnb, Uber or BlaBlacar. Should the government allow them to exist? And, if so, under what conditions? Everyone seemed to agree that, like it or not, collaborative economies are here to stay. I completely agree (as you may have read in a previous blog post, I’m a big fan of and regularly use Airbnb and Blablacar, both for personal and business trips). The conclusion was that, since they are here to stay, governments might as well tax their activity (currently, you only pay VAT on the fee of using the service, not on the service itself). Also, the CEO of Roommate hotels, Kike Sarasola, pointed out that businesses must outsmart these new companies. He says he’s just been listening to the needs of people and improving on Airbnb weaknesses (such as not having a 24/7 reception or a luggage locker), and he’s being very successful.

Roundtable discussions

Roundtable discussions at Fira de Barcelona’s Convention Centre

The second roundtable was about what tourism should look like in Catalonia. Do we want to keep attracting students and backpackers who come for the cheap beer and the beach? (read this article on an incident that happened recently with drunken tourists in the city). Should we look for more tourists from Russia and other emerging countries that spend most of their time shopping in Passeig de Gracia’s luxury boutiques? Currently, Barcelona is one of the top destinations in the world (both for holidays and business tourism), and its popularity seems to doesn’t have a limit. Every year the number of tourists visiting increases, to the dismay of some Barcelona inhabitants, who are fed up with all the negative consequences of attracting so many tourists.

All the speakers agreed on one thing: tourism is Catalonia’s cash cow, so this industry should be maintained. But not at all costs. I especially liked Miquel Puig’s contributions. Miquel is an economist from the University of Barcelona who claimed that if we want to keep our generous welfare state, we must increase salaries. Otherwise, everyone is paying for tourism (for example, waiters have such a low income and therefore pay such low taxes that all citizens have to pay for their healthcare costs). To put things into perspective, Miquel mentioned that in countries like Austria or Switzerland, or even France, salaries in the tourism industry are so much higher, and as a result there is more quality. Because it should be about quality, not quantity. I fully agree with him.

Maria Reig, president of Reig Capital Group, also made some interesting observations. She pointed out that Catalonia has many attractions but it is not taking full advantage of them. Ms. Reig recommended to explore highly profitable niche sectors such as medical tourism (she explained how the city of Munich, Germany, has successfully exploited its hospitals to attract tourists). She also highlighted how Catalan businesses tend to be too competitive between them. Instead, they should be more collaborative. Indeed, collaboration is the buzz word nowadays!

After the conference I went to the awards and gala dinner, where the president of Catalonia, Mr. Artur Mas, gave a speech about how encouraging are all the new initiatives taken by the industry, especially by many small businesses focused on sustainable tourism (who won most of the awards of the evening).

MNAC Entrance

MNAC Entrance

Catalan politicians at the awards ceremony

Catalan politicians at the awards ceremony

The dinner took place inside a wonderful room within the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, which is one of the main museums of Barcelona and has been adapted to host events as well. Did you know the museum hosts the largest collection of Romanesque art in the world? At night, in front of the museum there is another popular tourist attraction of  Barcelona, the Montjuic fountains. There is a fine show every evening at the top of the hour.

Dinner at MNAC's magnificent Sala Oval

Dinner at MNAC’s magnificent Sala Oval

The food served was local and traditional

The food served was local and traditional

Front view of the MNAC and the Montjuic fountains

Front view of the MNAC and the Montjuic fountains

What do you think about the collaborative economy and its impact on tourism? Do you think it should be banned or regulated?

Nantes: a hidden gem in France for business events


As you might have read in my previous post, I was recently invited to attend the TBU conference (disclaimer: I was kindly invited to attend by Visit Nantes and Atout France, but all opinions are my own). When I first read Nantes in that e-mail invitation I must say that the name sounded familiar to me, but I knew very little about the city. Most of my French colleagues have never been to Nantes. And indeed, many people that attended the conference (which came from as far as the US or Australia) had not even heard about the city. But we were in for a surprise, and we all had a wonderful and unforgettable experience!

Continue reading