Sydney Paulden joins in the fun with MICE professionals
If you ever receive an invitation to attend The Oysters Summer Party, register without delay. All the places get filled immediately and even well-known MICE professionals have to be turned away.
The Oysters Summer Party is now firmly established as a must-go-to event in the London calendar and this week, 9th July 2014, at Floridita Restaurant in Soho, Central London, it once again lived up to its full and enviable reputation. The Oysters is a loose association of specialist MICE marketing staff of National Tourist Offices in London.
What makes the Oysters Party so appealing is that even though all these countries compete for business, they are all great friends, each has something entirely special to contribute.
Unlike the conventional workshop, there were 19 NTOs not just handing out sales material. Instead, each added the flavour of its nation to the general sense of fun and entertainment.
Belgium’s Brussels/Wallonia provided cold beer and hot chips. Cyprus let you savour its wine whilst being totally mystified by the Cypriot Zapmagic. With a group of guests studying his hands from as close as a few centimetres, Zap was miraculously able to cut open a fresh, juicy passion fruit to reveal a guest’s missing, signed £5 note.
Guests were transformed into living objets d’art with Dubai henna painting and German Convention Bureau graffiti. Guests were spoilt for choice when able to throw paper aeroplanes with Portugal or play putting with France. Others found out how it feels to be Finnish via an ingenious Finngenerator.
Spain dressed me up in a comic hat and sunglasses for a souvenir photo. Dead Sea hand massages were offered by Israel. Abu Dhabi and Etihad Airways not only fed me with dates, but arranged for my neck and shoulders to be massaged. This was an especially rejuvenating treatment as I, along with everyone else at the party, had come straight from the second day of The Meetings Show at Olympia. The Show is one of the Summer Party’s generous sponsors. The Party is now nicely timed in with The Meetings Show. It is obviously a big advantage to hold the party in London to coincide with the visit of so many MICE sellers and buyers from all over the world.
When an event is planned for event professionals, the organisers are obviously under the spotlight. The Summer Party arrangements are in the hands of Beyond Certainty, a group that proves itself continuously in many parts of the world.
Other sponsors and partners include AIM Group International, Kerzner International and Chatterbox Events. Chatterbox showed their skills at balloon modelling by festooning guests with astonishing fascinators and decorations made of balloons.
Brussels and Wallonia surprise and delight
Belgium has a wide range of attractions, landscapes, locations of historical and cultural interest and sporting events. In a very compact area, organisers can choose a variety of different components for conferences, leisure programmes, and incentives for any duration that suits their plans.
Distances are short. It takes little time to travel even from seaside to the hills; or from the fascinating capital city of Brussels to the outstanding beauty of the Ardennes.
The Wallonia region offers beautiful landscapes of hills and rivers and there services available that can provide team-building activities in this picturesque environment.
Information and assistance on hand
The Wallonie-Bruxelles Convention Bureau invites all enquiries that relate to MICE facilities in these two regions of Belgium.
Its mission is to promote Wallonia and Brussels as ‘Meetings & Events’ destinations on the national and international business tourism markets.
The Wallonie-Bruxelles Convention Bureau offers:
• Information on business hotels, venues and incentives
• Free logistical support that is personalised and complete
• Objective advice to help you organise your event
• Brochures for your meetings and incentives.
On the Bureau’s website there is a form to complete to have an offer tailor-made for any specific event; and organisers can apply to receive regular copies of the Bureau’s newsletter.
Do you want to stay informed? Then sign up for our newsletter. Mons, European Capital of Culture 2015
In 2015 the city of Mons is a European City of Culture. This coincides with the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, which was fought close to the city and which, in 1815, saw the final defeat of Napoleon and thus influenced the future shape of Europe.
Mons is a compact medieval city that is a visitor attraction in itself. It has planned a series of engaging events during 2015. They include an exploration of Van Gogh’s early years when he was a missionary in the Mons region: ‘Van Gogh in the Borinage: the Birth of an Artist’ (until 17th May) at the Mons Fine Arts Museum.
New conference facilities
A striking new building has been opened in Mons that adds greatly to Europe’s conference facilities. It is the Mons Convention Centre designed by world-renowned New York architect Daniel Libeskind. It is to be known by the remarkable name of MICX – standing for Mons International Convention Xperience!
It will be an iconic landmark with 20 rooms catering for from 10 to 1,000 delegates. Free Wi-Fi is on tap and the building has been designed to meet the most stringent ecological requirements.
It will be accompanied by a new 125-room Congres Hotel, due to open on May 31st 2015.
Another fascinating location for totally new kinds of events and corporate group experiences is the Euro Space Centre. One hour from Brussels on the E411 motorway, it provides 10,000sqm of space to accommodate every kind of event. There are ten meeting rooms for from 20 to 400 people and a range of challenging team-building activities.
‘Space Mission’, for example, illustrates the importance of group cohesion and teamwork to achieve results and overcome difficulties. Two delegates are seated in the cockpit of an American space shuttle with the rest of the group in the control room. The aim is to ready the shuttle for take-off, put it into orbit, dock with the International Space Station, then bring it back to earth. A number of events will disrupt the mission. How will the team deal with the oxygen failure and temperature regulation problems?
ITCM can testify to the effectiveness of classic car adventures, as we have taken a group of event organisers on a Fam Trip in classic cars in the Ardennes. The report on this exciting and memorable experience can still be seen at: Our classic tour of the Ardennes.
And, of course, it mustn’t be forgotten Spa-Francorchamps is regarded as the most beautiful F1 circuit in the world. It is also an exceptional venue for business meetings and workshops with 24 multi-functional spaces for receptions, team-building events and themed dinners. The more adventurous groups can enjoy an introduction to racing on the track itself. To learn more how to put your company in pole position, visit www.spa-francorchamps.be/en/business.php .
Spa treatments – in Spa!
And it is no coincidence that all over the world, the word ‘Spa’ is associated with health and beauty treatments. They all derive from this famous Belgian town of Spa, known as the Pearl of the Ardennes. Where better to relax and recuperate from stress?
Switzerland has a long tradition of bringing people together to negotiate agreements, share know-how, celebrate achievements, develop strategies and come up with new innovations.
Every year, Switzerland invests heavily in the meetings sector and offers you some of the finest venues worldwide. Whatever kind of event you are planning, we can show you how Switzerland’s economic stability, environmentally friendly image, spirit of innovation and commitment to quality all work to your advantage. Activities
Thanks to the short distances, your clients can play in the morning in the sun-kissed snow (all year round on one of our glaciers), have lunch during a scenic rail journey on a historic train, enjoy Swiss wine and specialties in stunning surroundings in a vineyard before sailing across an azure blue lake for dinner in a medieval castle.
Five unique and different experiences all in one day, that’s what makes Switzerland one of the most desirable incentive destinations in the world. Accessibility
Exceptionally easy access is another big selling point of this little, landlocked island in the heart of Europe. Switzerland is easy to reach from anywhere in the world thanks to extensive flight connections from its five international airports.
Our cities have some of the world’s shortest airport transfers. In Geneva for example it takes only 6 minutes to get from the airport to the city centre with public transport. If your destination is further afield your journey is part of the experience as you travel past the most stunning scenery in style on a public transport network that is the envy of the world. Where the world meets
Conference organisers and participants not only benefit from this positive image and top infrastructure but also from the spectacular setting and the high quality of life. That is why Switzerland is often host to international congresses and world-famous events. The World Economic Forum in Davos for instance is attended amongst others by 35 heads of state; the International Motor Show in Geneva and the Watch and Jewellery Show BASELWORLD are just a few of the many leading events which use Swiss Cities to host their events and have for many years. We advise you free of charge
The Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau, part of Switzerland Tourism, offers assistance in the planning of any type of event with no obligation or cost on your part. We help research destinations and venues, submit quotes and introduce you to key stakeholders of the Swiss MICE industry.
Why Finland? For the corporate events industry, Finland is an excellent alternative. We offer a wide selection of high-quality hotels, as well as superb event facilities. Finnish suppliers are professional and helpful. English is widely spoken and understood across the country. Finland provides the perfect mix of action-packed adventures in unspoiled nature with modern high-class services. We bring visitors close to nature. Finland is a year-round destination with exotic winters and warm summers. Finns love outdoor activities and have lots of experience in organising them. Finland is also a country of contrasts. It is one of the only places in the world where delegates can experience 24-hour daylight or marvel at the Northern Lights from their conference chairs.
FCB can guarantee a successful meeting in Finland Finland Convention Bureau (FCB) is a one-stop point of contact for overseas organisers, providing you with advice and putting you in contact with the best suppliers for your needs. All our services are free of charge. FCB promotes Finland as an international meetings destination. We also provide advice and offer a first-hand introduction to the country when planning an international meeting, event or congress.
Golf in a true winter wonderland Activities on offer for events in the light summer nights include river rafting, sailing aboard schooners or river boats, fishing, golfing and biking - to name just a few. In the northernmost part of the country above the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set for several weeks during the summer. In winter Finland is transformed into a true winter wonderland. Several destinations offer special seasonal buildings crafted from snow and ice that are great for hosting dinners and get-togethers, and even for accommodation. Winter activities include snowmobile, dogsled and reindeer safaris, winter driving academies, snow karting, snowshoeing, winter fishing, winter golfing, ice breaker mini-cruises and winter swimming.
10 good reasons to choose Finland
1. Easy access Around 145 daily international flights operate to and from Helsinki. Finnair is the national airline, and SAS/Blue1 also has very good connections to Finland. Helsinki-Vantaa regularly ranks among the very best airports in the world.
2. Quality About 1100 venues of the highest international standards are located throughout the country, ranging from congress centres and hotels to log cabins, spas and cruise ships. Whether you have your meeting in the city or in the countryside, you can rest assured that your stay will be comfortable, friendly and excellent value for money.
3. Safety and security Finland is a safe destination with a low crime rate. Even in the capital city, Helsinki, visitors can walk safely through any part of the town. Finland is politically stable and one of the least corrupt countries in the world.
4. High standards of education and technology Finland is one of the most popular congress countries in the world. It is known for its competitive economy and national creativity. The global mobile phone company Nokia is just one example of Finnish high-tech know-how.
5. Nature Finland has about 200,000 lakes and endless forests. The coastline is 1100km long, excluding the many beautiful islands and coastal indentations. Finland offers one of the most extensive and unspoiled natural environments in Europe. Finland's environmental sustainability is among the top 10 in the world.
6. Innovation and creativity Finns enjoy a high standard of living and hold cultural expression of all kinds in high regard. Our architecture and design is well known all over the world. World-class Finnish Design is highlighted by our textile and glass products.
7. Cuisine Finnish cuisine combines Scandinavian simplicity, arctic flavours and pure, organic ingredients. Fish, meat, berries and fresh vegetables are all delicious specialties. Experience an unforgettable festival of flavour in Finland!
8. Seasonal sources of inspiration Finland offers countless summer and winter activities to choose from. In Lapland you can join a snowmobile or reindeer safari, for example. In summertime you can enjoy sailing, fishing, hiking, golfing, ATV safaris, saunas by the lake or in the sea, and so much more. Finns simply adore outdoor activities!
9. Know-how In Finland everything works well, and Finnish suppliers are always professional. The Finnish people are friendly and hospitable, and English is widely spoken and understood across the country.
10. Contrasts In Lapland you can experience the polar night in wintertime and the midnight sun in summertime. Southwest Finland has the most beautiful archipelago in the world. We have snow and ice, northern lights and beautiful pristine lakes.
France has everything you can expect from a prime destination for business gatherings.
What makes France so special?
With easy access from all over Europe and the rest of the world, a rich, historic heritage and tradition and its famous art-de-vivre, France not only creates a unique atmosphere for your business events but also provides you with world-class infrastructure and talented, service-focused professionals.
The 5th economic power in the world, France offers 18 separate areas with clusters of international enterprises that provide an exceptional environment to match a client’s requirements.
Its diversity of landscape, gastronomy, heritage and internationally renowned events makes your incentive or hospitality in France a “unique” experience. Benefit from its 120 congress centres, its exclusive historical venues and offer your delegates a taste of French lifestyle. And enjoy your stay in one of our 187 5-star hotels, thanks to the new accommodation classification scheme.
With France’s combination of culture, infrastructure and hospitality, we have everything you need to make your project fly.
Conference organisers choose a destination based on confidence that the host country can offer creativity, professionalism, service of the highest standards and will deliver a programme that will leave delegates inspired.
The Mediterranean island of Cyprus can meet these requirements - and more - having many decades of experience in welcoming groups. Hotels and DMC’s understand the needs of this important sector – hotels are constantly undergoing investment to upgrade their facilities and DMC’s have put together innovative programmes using the island’s natural beauty and culture to add the ‘X-factor’.
There are many reasons why conference and incentive organisers are drawn to the island – its location at the crossroads of three continents, Asia, Africa and Europe, offers easy access, with a large number of airlines operating direct flights from all over Europe and the Middle East. Being the southernmost island in the Eastern Mediterranean, it has an exceptional climate, with year-round sunshine. The island’s main resorts are connected by modern highways so distances are short (just 40 minutes between the airports of Larnaca or Pafos to the coastal resort of Limassol, for example) and everywhere in Cyprus is easily accessible. Cyprus is an island of diversity – from its 57 Blue Flag beaches with the cleanest bathing waters in Europe to the the pine-forested Troodos Mountains with its timeless villages, not to mention 10,000 years of history and the legendary hospitality of its people.
The island has facilities to host groups from 10-1,200. Each resort has a variety of accommodation with excellent conference and leisure facilities, many with award-winning spas, while the newly refurbished Filoxenia Conference Centre in Nicosia, the capital, offers every amenity possible for groups of all sizes. In the rural areas, there are smaller, boutique-type hotels, ideal for organising a ‘retreat’.
Bespoke programmes can be devised for each event with every conceivable activity available – sea-sports in the crystal clear waters; hiking or cycling the in rural areas with panoramic views; golf in the winter sunshine on one of the four professional 18- hole golf courses; a traditional Cypriot ‘fiesta’ in the rural villages; jeep safaris in the national park region of Cyprus; in winter it is even possible to enjoy snow-skiing in the Troodos mountains. Memorable events can also now be organised in one of the many ancient sites around the island, - imagine a musical performance in Kourion Theatre in Limassol with the backdrop of the blue Mediterranean sea or wine-tasting at the Crusader Castle, Kolossi.
Cypriot cuisine is based on fresh seasonal local produce and is an integral part of any meeting on the island. Traditional Cypriot cuisine can be enjoyed at local tavernas and Cypriot recipes with a modern twist are served at ‘fusion’ restaurants that can be found all over the island.
The Cyprus Convention Bureau can offer advice in the planning of any type of event, while bringing together the island’s professionals – leading hoteliers and experienced DMC’s and PCO’s - who understand the demands of the C&I sector.