There are only a few days left until Christmas and the year is almost over. Looking back at 2016, I can say that it was a great and exciting year, in my private life but also at work! What was so special? Definitely, all the trips I made this year for tmf. I got the opportunity to visit destinations/places that I had not seen before, I met new people and did broaden my horizon in all possible aspects.

It took me some time to remember all the trips we’ve made this year. The articles we’ve written about (almost) every business trip, helped me to recall every single one (at least I hope so). In the end, I was surprised how many places we saw – my colleagues, Johanna and me. What we would like to do, is to give you a short report of “our 2016”. Unfortunately, we can’t talk about every single trip in detail – there were just too many.

For Johanna and me, travelling started right after Christmas vacation. From January 18-19, we attended Conventa in Ljubljana, Slovenia. For both of us, it was the first time in Ljubljana. We’ve written a lot about the destinations and its possibilities for MICE before but it is important to see it with your own eyes. The experiences we made were positive in every way. The fair is very familiar, well organized and has good potential. During Conventa, I talked to many hosted buyers who confirmed my positive impressions.

From February 10-11, CONVENE took place in Vilnius, Lithuania, and Johanna and I participated as well. How was it? The headline of my article written right after the fair, puts it in a nutshell: “Well-done Jolanta and the whole team of CONVENE!”. There wasn’t a single aspect to complain about… Our whole stay was perfectly organized and very personal. The organizers of CONVENE had created a programme which was varied, entertaining and interesting. Just to name one: the Networking Event on Wednesday in the Palace of the Grand Dukes. Welcomed by two men in knight armour each carrying a torch in his hand, all guests walked down a red carpet, where photographers were taking pictures all the time (and you had the impression there were as much as 20 of them). You really felt like a celebrity 🙂 What impressed me a lot: Every day at the fair and at all networking events, Jolanta Beniulienė, Exhibition Director of CONVENE and Director of Vilnius Convention Bureau greeted every single guest with a handshake – what can be more personal… In 2017 again, Johanna and I will attend CONVENE (this year as well, Johanna is speaking) and we’re really much looking forward to it. If you are interested, you can join us as a Hosted Buyer. Read Hosted Buyers’ statements about the fair: bit.ly/1WtSf0w, bit.ly/2cqT6Bc)

My next trip took me to Italy to Lake Como where I visited Villa Erba. I met there with Francesca Schiatti (responsible for events at Villa Erba), Eleonora Bresciani (Lake Como Events Network) and Gabriella Gentile (Meeting Consultants). Villa Erba is a historical edifice built in the 18th century and it houses an International Exhibition and Congress Centre which hosts a large number and variety of events and congresses every year. The villa itself impresses with its ancient frescoes, the luxurious ceilings and Mannerist rooms and it is an amazing setting for all kind of events. You should read my two articles (bit.ly/1SPC1QA and bit.ly/1XPh9se) about the stay and you will know what I mean when I say: go and organize your next event there!! Really cool: the famous Nespresso commercial with George Clooney was shot at Villa Erba. Watch it and you’ll recognize it. Some scenes of Ocean’s Twelve were also taken inside the villa…

In June finally – “my highlight of 2016”. Together with 9 German event planners, I travelled to the Faroe Islands! If you have followed my reports on our newsroom (and there were many as I couldn’t stop writing about it) you should have noticed it – I was just thrilled! The programme was amazing: different site inspections, a round trip with the helicopter, special dining experience in the restaurant KOKS, which was awarded as the best Nordic restaurant in 2015 and where we enjoyed an 18-course menu based on Faroese products. Worth mentioning the incentive activities with the DMC NAX (North Atlantic Xperience). We were welcomed by the team with the words “We will bring you to your limits!” They didn’t exaggerate. Rappeling and ziplining were on the plan AND we had to swim (with wetsuits and life jackets) through a deep sea grotto – 100 metres in complete darkness. An amazing experience…. “You can leave the Faroe Islands but you can never forget them” – this is a quote from one of Visit Faroe Islands’ videos – and it is really true. I can’t wait to visit the islands again. Here are the links to some of my articles: bit.ly/215lMQv, bit.ly/1U3AFi7, bit.ly/28Kn7HH, bit.ly/29um9Ap.

For Johanna the year was exciting as well. She was constantly on travel, all around the world. I was impressed how she could manage all of that, as it definitely was extremely stressful. But whenever she came back from her trip to the office, you could see in her eyes that she loves travelling. So, where did she go? As I mentioned in the beginning, it was CONVENTA and CONVENE. After that, she spoke at the Alicante Forum in Spain’s south eastern Costa Blanca (February 28 – March 1). At the beginning of April, she travelled to Italy to meet our partners Federica Lucini and Lara Sandra of Palacongressi di Rimini where she spent a couple of days exploring the modern venue with its surroundings. In May, a trip to Košice in East Slovakia stood in the calendar, in order to attend the VIA Forum 2016.

Two German event planners could go on a VIP site inspection to Palacongressi di Rimini and Villa Erba – and Johanna accompanied both of them (May and June). For Villa Erba, it was Heiko Heuschele, from COREVENTUS GmbH who could get himself a picture of the venue. For the Palacongressi it was Henriette Brüser of smart and more GmbH who pulled the big lot.

In June, Johanna spent 10 days in India, her second home as she often enthuses :). There, she participated at our new EPEX@WOW exhibition and conference, organized in collaboration with the WOW Awards Asia. It was a huge success!! What followed next was the ICCA Meeting in Moscow (August), the famtrip to Qatar (beginning of October), a workshop with local DMCs and hotels on the Faroe Islands (October), a trip to Latvia where she met our new partners from the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (October), a workshop in Sofia (November), the ICCA Congress in Kuching (November) and a couple of days later ibtm in Barcelona. Last but not least, the famtrip to the snow-covered Slovakia. So, I guess that was all.. But now when I read all of this, I’m kind of sure that I missed something…

Anyway, what I can say is that it was an amazing and successful year for us at tmf!!

We wish you a peaceful advent season, Merry Christmas and for the New Year, health, happiness and success to all of you!

Ulrike Kiesel