The association used the services of MindMeeting, whose Mike van der Vijver and Chema Gómez designed the event as it should be: a lot of preparation, months of interviewing participants of previous years about their expectations with this congress, and a lot of questioning traditional ways of doing things. Questioning for instance the idea that a congress should have speakers. What if the joint knowledge of all participants makes the best speaker, and if participants can learn more from each other than from any speaker?
The event started as always with a CSR activity, concretely a tree-planting activity organized by Exploramas. This was followed by a gymkhana to discover the city and its history. Powered with tablets, groups had to find specific places, solve quizzes and take photos with the tablet in a fun activity - a good way to break the ice. This was followed by a relaxed cocktail-dinner (with no politician´s speech! I love meeting design!). On that first night, as a fun idea, all newcomers to this congress could stay under a bundle of green balloons to express their desire to meet new people. Old-timers were then supposed to take them and introduce them to three people. Though the idea is good, the discipline of latin people is not sufficient to get this solution to perfectly work... But the ice-breaking objective of the first night was met already.
On the following day, right after breakfast, participants walked by pairs to the Marbella Congress Centre, with a mission: to discuss during their stroll a topic which the organizers had given them. A "walking meeting" of sorts... The session then started, with a few thank you speeches (we would highlight that of Rene Kachler from Costa del Sol Convention Bureau, coached by MindMeeting, who did not talk about convention centers, but rather about what she likes to do in her hometown, and the magical sunsets she enjoys every day. A personal speech is better than any sales pitch!
Then, to work! The participants had to prepare, in small groups, a bid for a real event, either a large medical congress or an internal product launch of a pharma company. It was a fun and highly interesting activity, getting participants to think about how to conceive and articulate a proposal. Each group then presented to the judges (Raphaela Verri Rocha from Novartis and José Antonio López Trigo from the Spanish Society of Geriatric, as well as Chema Gómez), who made their choice and transmitted to the participants the point of view, the likes and dislikes of the most important player: the final client. A great moment of learning.
After lunch, another crowdsourcing session: During their pre-event diagnosis of ICCA members, the meeting designers had identified six topics on which participants wanted fresh ideas. So a "half-open space" was setup in the garden of the beautiful Don Pepe hotel: participants could choose one of six groups, each with a flip chart, and discuss one of the topics in an open conversation during one hour, before going back to the nearby congress center for a debrief, which meant an opportunity to hear the conclusions and learnings of each group. This was followed by a best practice exchange in which each participant brought one of their learnings or best practices, and shared it with the group.
On that night, after a nice walk on the beach, the delegates got to the hotel Puente Romano for a gala dinner. And on the following day, the assembly of ICCA Ibérica took place, as well as a workshop in which only participated delegates who had brought an association client. Short meetings enabled them to get to know the clients of the other participants in this session.
Also worth noticing, the morning jogging sessions, not extremely packed but a few brave delegates jogged on the beach at 07:30. Wellness in action!
The event ended with a post-tour organized by the host, Costa del Sol Convention Bureau, to discover the area, especially Ronda and Málaga.
All in all, a nice experience, an opportunity to check the value of crowdsourcing and to experience meeting design ideas in action. And as always with this association, a moment in which competitors are just colleagues, share experience, and understand that the best thing to do is to improve all together.