CONNECT 16 - Ireland’s very first Meetings Industry Fair, a great success!

27th Oct, 2016

You might think that with the great number of fairs and speed meeting events our industry is saturated, but that might actually be wrong. The very dynamic Nicola McGrane of Conference Partners Ireland thought that it was high time that Irish cities, regions and service providers joined forces and participated in a huge Irish event in order to promote themselves towards the Irish public and international hosted buyers.

Cécile Koch reports

Right Direction

It is true that Ireland as a country, and therefore also the meetings industry, is recovering enormously from the economic turmoil it went through. But, as the Irish PM stated in his opening speech, Ireland with its strong heritage culture and intellectual knowledge is driving in the right direction. Paul Keeley, Director of the Business Development of Failte Ireland, also emphasized in his speech the sheer sense of hospitality of the Irish people. This was confirmed by my cab driver, talking enthusiastically about the people and growth, and visually obvious with legions of cranes hovering about Dublin, indicating the city is definitely not at a standstill.

Nicola invited me to CONNECT 16 when we met during the ECM Summer School in August where we both were faculty members. She told me how she had been driving throughout the whole country to all regions and cities to convince them to take part. She had the idea that these cities and regions should form a real team and show themselves to the visitors in an unusual way – definitely not as standalone suppliers!

Award & Kerry

In order to stimulate them, she organised a competition for the partners to win an award for “Best Regional Presence”. Not only the stand itself would be evaluated, but also all the social media efforts and digital performance for instance. How hard partners had worked to bring ambassadors and buyers from their region to the event would also be looked at. Nicola was embracing the whole thing with such a big heart that, of course, I agreed to sponsor the Award with Headquarters.

The winner turned out to be Kerry, because of the original way with which they showcased their regional products and interactive experiences, such as butting making and bodran lessons, not to forget the Dingle Gin, one of their local artisan products.

As Nicola said: “Overall, I think we have shown that Ireland is a very united destination with a lot to offer international visitors, with its great mix of hotels, convention venues, visitors attractions, and adventure and entertainment options. Exhibitors really showed the experiential side to the destination.” 

More info at

Members of the Regional Award Jury

Miriam Kennedy, Failte Ireland
Cécile Koch, HeadQuarters magazine
Ross Mooney, Google
Jonathan Bradshaw, Meetology Lab
Eilis O’Brien, University College Dublin
John Mc Grane, British/Irish Chamber of Commerce

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