No more boring meetings... That was one of the objectives of the Connections Meetings which took place in Lisbon and Algarve. Grupo eventoplus was invited as the Spanish media partner to witness first-hand this event that brought together MICE buyers and suppliers in an experiential and personal environment.
Experience... and quality time
Micaela Giacobbe, director of commercial events of Connections, "To help meeting planners get rid of boring meetings, we want to impart learning by doing and building lasting relationships with meeting design and gamification." The key objective was to foster connections between buyers and sellers of meetings. Whereas traditional workshops pack days with 10-minute meetings in boring halls, this event went for quality time and different settings, to create deeper relationships.
One-on-one meetings of 45 minutes between buyers and suppliers were held in different places of interest, giving these meetings a unique environment and a chance to share experiences while visiting these places. The duration may seem very long and a challenge for some professionals´ agendas (the event lasted from Wednesday to Saturday!) but we could experience the benefits of quality time where participants really getting to know each other.
Meeting designer Mike Van der Vijver shared his knowledge on meeting design between these meetings, which gave a good rhythm to the event between content and doing business.
We arrived at Doubletree by Hilton in Lisbon and were served its signature warm, yummy cookie at reception - a subtle gesture that made your arrival to the hotel different. During the welcome dinner, to break the ice, we were divided into smaller groups based on what we think was our knowledge on meetings and then later discussed what was important in effective meeting planning.
The next day, after the kick-off presentation, we took off in tuk-tuks to the city centre, where along the way, meetings between buyers and suppliers were also organized - no opportunity was wasted to make sure every moment was productive! Meetings were also held in various settings such as the Palacio Foz, taking a ride on the Gloria Elevator, combining business with visits. Lunch, hosted by the Lisbon Convention Bureau was served at the Museu da Cerveja with tradition Portuguese cuisine, of course!
In the three-hour train ride from Lisbon to Algarve, one-to-one meetings and learning continued. Yes, having meetings in a train, sharing conversations over warm coffee, enjoying the passing views and a beautiful sunset are not something we got to do every day.
The local touch
Thanks to Portugal No Limits, there were a list of activities where we can participate in, giving the opportunity to know more about the destination and Portuguese culture while making business connections. We had a chance to express our creativity with ceramic tile decorating, graffiti or marzipan painting, brought home a tailor-made bracelet as a souvenir; breathed fresh air with a stroll in nature or cycling to the beach or got competitive with a remote control boat racing.
We turned ourselves into pastry chef by getting a first-hand experience in preparing a traditional Portuguese dessert: styled up with chef hats and aprons, we rolled our torta da laranja, the Portuguese version of a Swiss roll, which was later cut up and served as dessert.
The event ended with a "finale" dinner at the Bovina Restaurant complete with live music, a mentalist show and disco dancing that brought on fully charged connections. As Micaela shared on her own experience seeing the whole event taking place, "it is so enlightening to see the metamorphosing of people, they came not knowing what to expect but they eventually understood how we are connecting people through the event and are absolutely enjoying it".
The next Connections meeting will take place from May 29th to June 1st in Málaga.