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Real-time voice translations make progress

Science fiction becoming reality

Microsoft has recently started the preview program for Skype Translator, which allows English and Spanish speakers to converse in their native languages. I find that a wonderful use of technology.
Much like the Universal Translator used in Star Trek, Skype’s system uses speech recognition and intelligent translation technology, which, thanks to its machine-learning, gets smarter the more it is used.


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Meet with anyone from anywhere

Simon Clayton wonders if Facebook will change the format of future meetings

Discussions about virtual meetings seem to be on the increase again. Unfortunately some people seem to think it’s all new: in fact, virtual meetings have been around for years, although the technology used to be called teleconferencing. In that guise, it involved groups of people gathering in specially equipped rooms. They would be able to see and hear each other and it was fine as far as it went, but it never really took off.

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Ebola can be a threat to international gatherings

Ebola precautionary measures

Behaviour protocol should be established for the future

The world has great sympathy for so many people in parts of West Africa who have lost family members to the dreadful ebola epidemic. No one can fail to appreciate how appalling it must be to live in an affected area and to see the fever spread around you.
It has at last become a priority for nations outside the affected areas to provide assistance as rapidly as possible – and, at the same time, to do everything possible to protect their own nations from its spread.


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A safer way to choose a password

Online security is a subject I'm passionate about. Choosing a good password is the most crucial element in keeping online accounts safe. Here is an outline of the current best practice for passwords. I specifically say ‘current’ best practice, because, like most things, the advice can change from time to time and has changed over recent years.
The old advice for creating a secure password was to have a random string of upper and lower case letters interspersed with numbers and symbols.


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Time to consider our own data security

Recent stories about celebrities’ selfies being taken from their iCloud accounts and posted on the Web should have the effect of focussing everybody’s attention on data security. The problem is that all too often that phrase is interpreted as referring only to whether or not some remote corporation is doing all that it should to protect our personal information.

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When the show goes on . .

. . . the destination is on show

Organisers of large events, with several hundred delegates up to many thousands, don’t just choose a venue. They choose a destination.
Large numbers of senior people from many countries, with lots of disposable income, will not only participate in sessions in a venue, but will be seeking alternative places to eat and drink, tourist sights to visit, attractions to take in on a leisure activity.


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MICE on the move

Business is arriving – but from different sources

There is a definite sense that the MICE sector is showing signs of recovery. At present it is mainly in terms of enquiries for events, but there have been some notably big pieces of business. The interesting pointer is that recent big contracts, especially for incentives, have come from the emerging markets.
The outstanding source is China and there is also lots of new potential in countries such as India, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia and Korea.


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User Experience is more about technique than technology

Simon Clayton says UX stretches beyond websites and gadgets

There’s a great deal more attention being paid to user experience (UX) these days. Unfortunately, most people see this as applying only to websites. Obviously the UX of an event website affects reactions to an event, so it’s important to get it right. In reality, though, event planners need to think about the UX of the whole event.
But let’s start with websites, since that’s usually an attendee’s first contact with an event. It’s very easy to get the UX wrong, as demonstrated by any number of sites. Maybe they make it almost impossible to locate interesting breakout sessions. Or they provide only meaningless titles for sessions with no details. Some even forget to show the date and location of the event on the home page.


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China’s dramatic increase in its spend on foreign venues

China is now second only to USA as visitor to ITCM

China is still a novel destination and event organisers can be sure that their award winners or delegates will have memorable experiences if they select some part of China for their venue or programme. It is a huge country, with unending diversity of customs and cultures, visitor attractions, flora and fauna – and it was closed to foreign visitors for long periods.

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Association meetings are still on the up

Paris and Madrid overtake Vienna

ICCA (International Congress & Convention Association) has released its statistics for meetings held in 2013. They show continued growth in spite of the years of recession. As many as 11,685 regularly occurring association events which rotate between at least three countries were identified as having taken place during 2013. This was 535 more than the previous year.

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MICE promotions can work fast

Destinations and venues can reap big benefits within a couple of years

Not everyone can be a champion in a sport, but pretty well everyone has a competitive instinct in one form or another.
This instinct can be encouraged and then put to good use in business - and particularly in MICE business.
There are hundreds of thousands of people round the world setting themselves targets in all kinds of different ways. Notably there is running or just jogging. They aim for their PB – their Personal Best. It’s a natural inclination.


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Lobby wants to cut WTM down to 3 days

ANTOR members vote for shorter show

One the one hand the number of MICE exhibitions, workshops and round-table forums is increasing. On the other hand, there is a very evident demand for shows to be shorter. The most recent example was International Confex in London, which has been going for over 30 years. In 2014 it was cut from three days to two.

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Worldwide impact of a successful ICC

 Lyn Lewis-Smith, the CEO of Business Events Sydney

$50m in events secured for Sydney’s new facility at Darling Harbour

The impact of the events world on the outside world as a whole is most visible when a big conference comes to town. Cities talk in terms of millions of pounds or dollars benefit to the local economy.
However, there is even more to it than that. The additional benefits have been nicely summed up by Lyn Lewis-Smith, the CEO of Business Events Sydney.


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New trends in feeding delegates

Tapenade’s Executive Chef John Hearn

Sustainability and fun are ingredients in event catering

Celebrity chefs who feature on TV would probably require fees that would break most budgets for feeding delegates at conferences, but their messages are having an influence on the MICE catering business and can be incorporated at reasonable cost. Fresh ingredients bought from local sources in the right seasons are very much the in-thing at the moment.

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Does ITCM Website have a circulation?

User statistics are remarkably stable

Printed magazines and online newsletters have a circulation. They have lists of addresses to which they send their publications regularly.
Does ITCM Website have a circulation?
Well, not in the same sense, because ITCM is open to anyone in the world to access it though their online connection.
However, ITCM has remarkably detailed statistics on the numbers of users, their countries of origin and other valuable information. Study of all this can provide a picture of the website’s audience. The statistics can indicate that people are regularly tapping into the website and are, therefore, equivalent to a requested circulation.


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Make networking ‘appen at events

Cormac Corrigan

Mapp2link gives users a ‘push’ towards valued contacts

It is widely believed that people attend conferences as much to network with the other delegates as to hear the presentations. It is often found that a higher percentage of acceptances can be achieved by listing who else will be in the audience in addition to the speakers on the platform.
I was therefore keen to listen to Cormac Corrigan when I met him at EIBTM 2013 in Barcelona last month. He is the CEO of Mapp2link. He has introduced the Mapp2link app to take networking to another level.


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MICE sector is a major contributor to the welfare of the world

Currency symbols

How can we get more accurate global statistics?e

In 1989, I read in a national newspaper that it was estimated that in the UK about £250m a year was spent on conferences and meetings. This sum seemed pathetically understated to me, but how could I determine its real value?
I dug around and, for example, received information from the major airlines on how much was spent with them by business groups. From major hotel chains I got an idea of how much group events contributed to their revenue and I sent a questionnaire to the readers of ITCM and asked how much their companies spent on MICE events each year.


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Not so much a meeting, more an experience

Cologne’s centrifuge is a big space research attraction

Should delegates expect more than a series of presentations?

Should delegates to meetings be treated more like incentive award winners? The current distinction is that incentive organisers aim to deliver an unforgettable experience, whereas meetings hosts ply delegates with information. Yet, people are beginning to claim, the whole trend of education today is towards providing students with experiences that drive knowledge home and stimulate interest and therefore memory, rather than the old-fashioned approach of simply feeding data to students.

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One event, 50 RFQs

Should something be done about it? And if so, what?

Requests for quotations for events are a cause for concern. Hotel groups, individual hotel managements, convention bureaux and conference centres have noticed a decline in the rate of conversions.

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No business like MICE business

Buyers need highly selective information

ITCM has assisted many destinations and venues to launch into the MICE markets over the 25 years since its inception in October 1988. We can look back and recall when present-day successes were just a germ of an idea.
One thread common to many of these assignments has been the false assumptions made by the newcomers to this sector. There’s no business like MICE business and it cannot be confused with holiday travel.


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