Pooh, this year felt like an ongoing marathon including periods of heat, thirst and pain, but also running over smooth green meadows, in a heart-warming sun and with a fresh breeze carrying you forward, with joy in the heart and singing in the mouth (not sure if you can say so in English, please forgive if wrong, but I am sure you know what I mean :-); and before closing down the office for the holiday break, I want to reach out to my many friends and colleagues in this network to share my pleasure and challenge of working in the meeting industry and with you.

What are my learnings from this year? I can only share a few with you – there were too many.

1. one is that the female (and bigger!) part of our industry still is underrepresented when it comes to showing the predominant “old and young boys” that there can be better methods than own agendas and tactical games to secure standings. With great Nina Pretorius as president of ICCA we now have a female leader who shows us how to act strongly and stepping forward into the first line. Many of the women I know are less political than practical and of course realise that power and business is shifted around in the male environment. Let us not mildly smile upon these games but shift the system in 2016 to more fairness and acceptance! Nina and all others showing the courage to enter this space, you can count on my support and connectedness. Our business and our world needs emotions, empathy, honesty and true co-operation and support – that is our home turf, ladies! Some fun and lightness and giggling also helps! (I am only reflecting on my immediate environment in Europe and in India/English-speaking Asia – I know that situation might be different in the US and some other places, but I am not involved there).

2. Other great learnings for me come from that growing awareness of “wholeness” when it comes to promoting destinations. Great examples come from Colombia, where the most unfavourable situations where changed into prospering communites by listening to the underprivileged, pulling them in, improving their life and environment and winning great results like feelings of togetherness, passion, supporting matters across the community, improving infrastructure and reducing criminality. By doing this, investors and talent are attracted, knowledge follows and – the results are growing and flourishing cities like Bogota or Medellin, which even now exports their expertise won through the process as “city of life” congress. So I personally embrace all these new concepts of “smart cities”, place branding and using local knowledge to attract congresses. First of all it is much more interesting and challenging than the promotion of infrastructure and it is a great way that the events produced in our industry can add a little bit to making the world a better place and to leaving positive legacy in the places we go. That for me is far beyond the much (ab)used term of “sustainability” in our industry and finally includes the wellbeing of humans. This is why we support associations like “World Obesity Federation” in their attempt to promote better health awareness in venues and meetings. Also, the many stories that we have published on our newsroom this year around the topic of “health” find high interest among the readers, so we will continue making this a focus in our work.

3. Learning – and this one is about challenges – is that unfortunately the understanding of what can be achieved with a smart and multi-channel based communication and PR in our industry is still in its infancy. I thought this 5 years ago and was sure it is going to change quickly. It does not. For the next year I hope that many people realise the creative and far-reaching possibilities of a well conducted digital approach to communicate with the markets… In any case – we at tmf dialogue will continue to dig into stories and break our head as of how to create the best contexts that are interesting for the readers that destinations want to win attention from the planners of events and congresses around the globe!

In this sense and with all my friendship I wish you a very happy holiday season, a bit of rest and reflection at the end of this year and great spirit and energy to start into the NEW YEAR 2016!

Our new website for services in the Indian and English-speaking Asian markets: www.experientialplanner.com

Johanna Fischer
Managing Director
tmf dialogue marketing