Sunday, March 29th 2020.


Bruce Taylor


By Bruce Taylor




This year’s European Meetings & Events Conference by MPI took place at the end of January in a sunny and decidedly cool Budapest.


Budapest Budapest Budapest



  • Two cities (Buda & Pest) and two Danubes (it splits!) for the price of one.
  • One of the most beautiful cities in Europe with touches of Vienna, Paris & Prague.
  • Most enchanting at night when the lights of this sparkling city rival those of Paris.
  • Spa & wellness city with over 100 hot springs and spectacular Szechenyi Baths & Gellert Spa.
  • More 5* hotels than you would expect in a city of this size. All the main brands.
  • Amazing variety of original event venues including Houses of Parliament, Fine Arts Museum, National Railway Museum, the Royal Palace of Gödöllö, the Lázár Equestrian Experience, Momento Park (communist memorabilia) ….
  • Budapest Congress & World Trade Centre for meetings of up to 2000 delegates with 4000 square metres of exhibition space.
  • Easy access by air: 1h45 from Brussels. Low cost carriers are rushing in to replace Malev.
  • Ferenc Liszt Airport (formerly Ferihegy) is 20min by taxi from the centre.
  • Strong local culture and music scene. Over 1100 years of Hungarian history, combined with a tradition of innovation & surprising inventions like Rubik’s Cube….

Meetings & Events help in Budapest
Contact: Dora Kiss
Hungarian Convention Bureau



Artistic welcome to Budapest

Budapest Budapest
Budapest Budapest

The Museum of Fine Arts boasts the largest collection of Spanish paintings in the world outside the Prado. It hosted the MPI networking event with a wonderful taste of Hungarian culture, creativity, art and gastronomy. The molecular cocktails were highly original (‘orgasm’ turned out to be many people’s favourite);  the Rubik Cube demonstrations in just 10 seconds flat were mind blowing and a private tour of the Spanish collection was educational & fun.



Brainstorming in the baths
The Szechenyi Baths must be one of the largest and most impressive hot spas in the world with 16 indoor and 3 outdoor heated pools… Full of health-giving minerals, the waters range from ice cold to lukewarm to 38ºC. Locals come here to talk, relax and even play chess. There’s a real buzz about the place. A great venue to brainstorm in small groups with no PowerPoint, flipcharts, notes….and here everyone is on the same level, in their swim suits.

Budapest Budapest



A royal railway finale
A gala dinner with amazing sand painting projected on a big screen, a large Hungarian gypsy string orchestra and rock music to dance to… Where? In Hungary’s National Railway Museum.. You can’t ask for a more original venue. And to get there? At Budapest’s Western Station you enter the Imperial Royal family’s luxurious private waiting room before boarding a nostalgic ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ style steam train which takes you direct to the doors of the museum. for info on events at the Hungarian Railway Heritage Park on exclusive & nostalgic trains for events, like the Danube Express

Budapest Budapest



Meet in Sissi’s Royal Palace
Just 40 min from Budapest and 20mins from the airport, this was the official venue for Hungary’s recent EU Presidency.  Since the 1990s the Royal Palace of Gödöllö has undergone extensive renovation and is now a Hungarian showcase with 15 rooms for events and a regular programme of theatre, concerts and dance. It was presented to Queen Elisabeth (Sissi) by the Hungarian people and she spent more time here than at the Imperial court in Vienna.

Budapest Budapest



Lázár’s Hungarian Equestrian Experience
The Lázár brothers are world champion carriage drivers with hundreds of trophies to prove it.  They have 80 horses, carriages galore, talented horsemen & women, a catering empire and all the ingredients for a motivational equestrian experience out in the countryside, just 50 min from Budapest. Don’t miss their excellent ‘lángos’, a Hungarian ‘pizza’ on warm flatbread with a garlic sauce, sour cream, grated cheese & raw onion. But make sure everyone eats the same!

Budapest Budapest
Budapest Budapest




The conference attracted 343 participants to Budapest in January and the theme, Innovation Re-Imagined, produced another inspiring EMEC in a great meeting destination in this, MPI’s 40th year.

Here are just some of my highlights which I recommend you to look at online. There was so much content at EMEC that delegates were forced to be very selective about the sessions they attended.
You can in fact see the full conference with all the individual presentations webcast by our very own Belgian technology provider Streamdis



Leap with keynote speaker Sahar Hachemi

Budapest Budapest

Sahar founded Coffee Republic in the UK at a time when everyone ridiculed the idea of American coffee. Her motto has always been “Leap and the net will appear”. As an entrepreneur you have to get under the skin of your potential customers and what they see, feel and need. She recommends cancelling a few meetings and getting out there to listen with an open mind. In Sahar’s own words: “Change is not something to resist. Change is wonderful”. A woman with character & drive!



BudapestVanessa Cotton Scholarship for the younger generation
Dominique Dashwood, a final year student at Bournemouth University, won this prestigious award in memory of industry star Vanessa Cotton and her untimely death in 2010. The Foundation, set up by MPI’s UK & Ireland Chapter with the support of Reed Exhibitions & Excel, allows one outstanding student a year to attend EMEC. “Amazing!” was Dominque’s conclusion about the experience. “Every single person I’ve spoken to has been so open and I’ve received so much helpful advice.”

A really practical tribute to Vanessa…



MPI flashpoints
A general session on different aspects of innovation to get the audience out of their comfort zone and thinking differently….Five speakers each had 15 minutes to get over their message and attract people into a more in-depth seminar later on the same subject.

  • Pacelle van Goethem (NL) in ‘Selling ice cream to Eskimos’ taught us the importance of voice pitch in the art of persuasion.
  • Christian Bitz (DK) talked about how ‘eating right makes your meeting brain bright’ and the balanced healthy brainfood he has developed for conferences.
  • René Boender (NL) told us the only route to success is the new KISS (Keep It Simple Smart).
  • Steven Loepfe (CH) encouraged us to create sweet zone days (doing only work which inspires you) and block days (islands days away from phones & emails to regenerate & rejuvenate).
  • Hans van Grieken (NL) from Cap Gemini convinced us that someone out there has already solved our problem and innovation is more about copying others.

Interesting that all five, like so many other speakers at EMEC, had English as their second language...This gave them an immediate rapport with the majority of the audience who were in the same situation. A clever move by MPI Europe!

Budapest Budapest



Giving something back to Budapest
In Málaga MPI planted trees. In Budapest they helped the homeless. MPI’s Bianca Manteuffel and Judit Maróthy from local DMC Underguide led a project which involved 12 members giving up their Sunday to help make goulash soup with a well known Hungarian chef and 400 sandwich packs for a public foundation for the homeless.  In addition, MPI donated 1500 euro for the raw materials. On the Monday they brought the sandwich production line to EMEC and many of us worked there throughout the coffee breaks. A great initiative!

Budapest Budapest



BudapestIf you are willing to do this, then let me see what I can do..
Gundula Welti with all her negotiating experience from Disneyworld gave some very practical examples of how to create movement in a negotiation.  It all hangs on the CNN (Concessions-Negligible-Negotiable) principle and in win-win negotiation; you need to see the value of your concessions through the eyes of the other person. Gundula has written a little book of bedtime stories on the subject for overworked business (wo) men, but it’s in French.  She’s actively looking for an English publisher! She also writes an entertaining weekly blog on Sundays. Worth reading!


BudapestSo what exactly is Open Innovation?
It’s no longer a question of having good ideas. Those ideas are already out there in another sector. It’s now a matter of taking something from another world, combining it with your own and creating something new. And just as important, according to Hans van Grieke, is co-creating with your customers and crowd sourcing. Innovation these days is all about copying and improving. And if you’re selling events, make sure you sell more than just one single event at a time. There are different phases plus reports, social networking, post event action….Innovative packaged selling!


Small details of meeting design
When I joined this session, Mike van der Vijver had all the participants lying on the floor. He was illustrating a point. How you place people in the physical space available has a strong effect on a meeting & people’s interactions. Meetings are all about communication and the meeting industry must always get involved in the content as well as the form. As part of a practical exercise, we met Sting (alias the inimitable Patrick Delaney who fortunately didn’t sing, but gave us good feedback).
In short, a brilliant interactive session of learning-by-doing!

Budapest Budapest



BudapestRoom for Solutions!
The final session (involving some 175 people with an average of 16 years in the industry = almost 3,000 years experience!) was a lesson in people power. It was an open brainstorming session in which everyone took part in small groups to try and solve each other’s problems. It was free consultancy and in many cases proved very helpful….


Switzerland here we come
As the next EMEC destination SCIB hosted lunch on the final day, and as always it came with flair and a Swiss sense of humour. A comedy double act gave us some useful facts about the country….

  • Swiss mountain air is Viagra for the brain
  • Swiss milk chocolate from happy cows is Viagra for the soul

Welcome to what looks like being a very stimulating Swiss mountain EMEC in Montreux, 27-29 January 2013!

Budapest Budapest



Note:  BBT Online was the only media from Benelux invited to cover EMEC 2012 in Budapest. Our thanks to MPI & the Hungarian Convention Bureau!



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