Sherlocked! Image 1



The EMEC19 in The Hague locked in its delegates, and they actually enjoyed it. Die conference featured apes, conductors and a nuclear crisis, all in keeping with the conference's motto 'Changing the Game'.

elcome, fellow makers of meetings. We are 'sherlocked'! And tonight, so are you," announced a computer-voice Avatar. The 330 participants at the European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC19) staged by the MPI (Meeting Professionals International) were just being locked in the Fokker Terminal. The exits were barricaded with a 25-meter steel chain, and the delegates at the conference staged in The Hague from February 9 thru 12, 2019, simply had to find their way out. There were no explanations and no clues – it was in fact a genuine Escape Game.

The hall was decorated with white and black boxes showing portraits of attendees, a Glockenspiel, a map of a stellar system and parts for handicraft work. These boxes were the meeting point for random teams making an attempt to mingle the parts at will so as to find a solution. "But what is the riddle?" asked Núria. Right, the teams also needed to come up with the matching riddles as well. Miranda took the initiative and simply started to tinker around with a few items. The man in the team had a more analytical approach and on a piece of paper assigned names to the photographs. Not to forget, there was an online attendee list with photos. And so the 'prisoners' gradually advanced step by step. Ultimately, the boxes arranged in a coordinate system on the stage formed an oversized QR-code – so that was the riddle. The code was scanned – and the gates of the former aircraft hangar slid apart to open a view on parked buses ready to roll: a successful overture to the conference and more than just an ice-breaker.
Sherlocked! Image 2
Pictured is the Avatar who ‘Sherlocked’ the 330 participants of MPI‘s EMEC19 in The Hague.

"Changing the Game" was the motto of this EMEC19, and the Dutch chapter of the organizing Meeting Professionals International (MPI) made all effort to live up to it. The program presented its four theme tracks with entirely different approaches. The 'Leadership' attendees at the historic concert hall Stadsgehoorzaal learned from conductor Guido Marchena, which effects different managing patterns had on his symphonic orchestra. With hesitant, motivating, hectic conducting or with singularized guidance, the musicians audibly reacted and played differently. Participants seated right next to the musicians in the orchestra pit witnessed this close-up, and they were amazed. Visitors to the Zoo Blijdorp shared a similar experience, when the behavioral scientist and biologist Patrick van Veen with the help of a troop of apes showed them some 'Monkey Business'. The 'Risk Management' track sent participants to a Wargaming Room set up by Scenarios4Summits, where they had to solve a crisis at an imaginary Nuclear Security Summit.

The conference on Sunday offered seven of these Learning Journeys. "Conferences too often use identical designs. We think it's high time to change that, which is why this event is something of a test lab and not just another conference where you just sit around all day to listen to someone talking," said Gijs Verbeek, Executive Director MPI Netherlands Chapter.


Angeles Moreno, Meeting Professionals International’s (MPI) new Strategic Development Senior Advisor for Europe, about her role and MPI’s plans for the continent.

tw: From now on you play the major role to strengthen MPI’s position in Europe. What are your main goals?
Angeles Moreno: My role as Strategic Development Senior Advisor for Europe is to build a strong value proposition adapted to European requirements. Further, I will work to strengthen ties not only between European chapters, but also between the United States and Europe, generating a mutual enrichment of cultures, best practices, advocacy and knowledge.

How do you plan to achieve that?
Our main mission at MPI will be to develop and implement an adjusted and appropriate Brand Awareness campaign focused on driving influence related to the Association. Through this awareness campaign, we will increase MPI’s presence throughout Europe by engaging with industry partners, media channels, industry events and complementary local-based associations. We are implementing a 3-year strategic plan, which will focus on joining forces to generate positive impact for our members, supporters and the meetings and events industry in general.

What can we look forward to?
We are off to a strong start already by adapting our messaging to target segments of current and potential new members, demonstrating and differentiating our value proposition based on the most relevant approach for each audience. We are also working to design the right MPI Academy offerings in Europe to serve as a source of professional development within the sector. Let me also use this opportunity to make special mention of our signature event, European Meetings & Events Conference (EMEC), which went through content and objectives redesign five editions ago, and is currently being designed for our next edition in Seville, February 2020. MPI is especially proud of its community of experts in the Dutch chapter who designed and executed EMEC19, this past February in The Hague with a highly positive result. We are continuing this journey with a team of national and international event design experts, for the next edition.

This methodology was consistent throughout all of Monday, the EMEC19's single 'conference-only day'. The 'Deep Dive' sessions at the World Forum The Hague featured a risk analysis here, a panel discussion on diversity there, and delegates at diverse venues and in formal or informal groups of differing sizes discussed strategies for dealing with changes or the significance of interaction and meetings. And that always against the backdrop of the four tracks 'Risk Management', 'Design Thinking', 'Leadership' and 'Meeting-Perspectives'. The concluding Tuesday dealt exclusively with festivalization of events.

"I'm so very proud of the team," said event project manager Sven Boelhouwer at the close of the EMEC19. "Everyone worked so very hard for 11 months to create a whole new experience. We didn't want something that everyone sees at a regular conference. I hope everyone out there will feel that we accomplished that." In total, more than 50% of all sessions had participation character, in addition the major share of the conference events was staged outside the World Forum.

This was true also for the opening ceremony at the Fokker Hall on Sunday evening, when MPI-President Paul Van Deventer announced that the association was ramping up activities in Europe and making investments: into branding, personnel and contents as well. In this context, he announced the appointment of Angeles Moreno (see interview), who as Senior Consultant is designated to drive MPI's European plans. "MPI Europe has a clear mission: to increase its presence and consolidate its prestige in Europe," Moreno explained. Her plans include a continued focus on membership growth, chapter stability and the implementation of event strategies that consistently provide education for all professionals, networking and increased business development opportunities for the European MPI community.

The stage was later taken by Dutch performer, entrepreneur and inventor Daan Roosegaarde, who in his keynote illustrated that it's possible to create extraordinary achievements and special projects if you think outside the box. He provided a perfect example with a story about his brainchild 'Smog Free Tower', which purifies polluted air in conurbations. This seven-meter-high tower can clean 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour. An adult, in comparison, will pass 12 m3 though his lungs per day. Actually a great invention, but there weren't any investors to be found. "Everybody wants clean air but nobody wants to pay for it," is how he described his dilemma. But then he had a great idea: he compacts the smog particles extracted from the air and sells them as gem diamonds on rings; financing secured. "Change your perspective, think like an artist," he said, after which he left the building. And that not a moment too soon, because minutes later, a computer voice resounded from the speakers …

“Build a strong value proposition adapted to European requirements.”
Angeles Moreno,