Since we started working together in the early 90s we've been leveraging Pádraic's backgroud in academia and Patrick's in the service industry to create educational content for meetings and events professionals that's both theoretically sound and practically useful.
Peter Drucker, the famous management guru, provocatively claimed that "Culture eats strategy for breakfast". Without strategy there's no vision for the future and no road map to get us there. But without culture there's no reason to travel at all, no real meaning to the journey.
Planners of meetings, incentives, conferences and events are not particularly interested in individual hotels or venues, DMCs or motorcoaches. First and foremost they're interested in how destinations - as a whole - can provide them with integrated solutions where all players pull together seamlessly to deliver the perfect event.
How do you create demand for your services when you're only starting off and have no trading history? How do you market yourself so as to create awareness of your difference, your uniqueness, that elusive "je ne sais quoi" that separates you from the competition?
You pause at the door but then decide on another trip to the bathroom. You've been at the entrance to the ballroom twice before but, each time, found good reasons not to go in.
First time, when you looked into the room, there was nobody there. Second time the room was too packed. As you leave the bathroom you see a familiar face. Happy days!
You reach for the "Open Door" button faster than a politician's promise and gallantly hold the elevator as the magnificent Tina Hoffman enters, Chief Buyer at GrabaGuy.com, the biggest user of hospitality and out-sourced meetings services in your region.
She thanks you profusely as the door closes and selects the 35th floor. You chat easily and amiably but then comes the heart-stopping question: "So what do you do?" You're already at the 10th floor. You reckon you have about 30 seconds.
The digital revolution came as a consequence of the internet and changed the face of the business world to the extent that the acronyms BC and AD might be interpreted as "before computers" and "after digital". And nowhere in business has the digital revolution been more tsunami-like than marketing where global communication is instanteous and big data facilitates laser-like measurement.
The advent in recent decades of globalisation and the internet has created a global marketplace in which all meeting and event professionals participate. For some of us this manifests itself in the attendee demographics at events in our own destinations; for others it's seen in the destination selection of our clients who now travel to places we never thought possible only 10 years ago.
Meeting Planners, increasingly, are required to plan, stage and execute meetings, incentives, conferences and events outside their comfort zone, in countries or geographical regions that they've never been to, speaking languages they don't know and using currency they don't understand.
You stand in the lobby your eyes fixed at the door.
Forty grand of revenue is about to walk through that door and it's either here or The Allerton. You've planned a killer site inspection, leaving nothing to chance and in ninety minutes time you're certain you'll be sipping champagne with the client, the business secure.
The client suddenly materialises in the lobby and you wave at her in giddy anticipation. You open your arms to welcome her warmly and just then the fire alarm goes off...
You'd never buy a pair of shoes without first trying them on … or buy a home without visiting it and experiencing how it feels to be there … or marry someone without first dating them...
Familiarisation Trips or Educational Trips are the way our industry allows a potential client to try out the destination, visit the venue, experience the hotel without commiting to buy. A "fam" is a destination showcase involving a substantial time commitment on the part of the client and an immense opportunity on your part to win that client's business by ensuring a flawless experience.
In our turbo-powered IT world, clients can dispatch Requests for Information (RFI) and Request for Proposals (RFPs) to all and sundry at the mere press of a send button.
Our inboxes have never been so full of potential business but our processes are not set up to deal with this efficiently, effectively and engagingly.
Trade shows and exhibitions are a key channel to market for the meetings industry as they provide a convenient time and place for the entire industry to meet and do business face to face.
Today, however, we're faced with a breath of choice with national, regional and global exhibitions all vying for our time and marketing investment.
Destinations, venues and hotels are selected to host business events – or not, as the case may be – because they meet the needs of the client in search of the meeting location. But these needs are not unique to specific clients. Most of them, in fact, are common needs, shared across the entire buyer spectrum.
Destination Management Company (DMC) is a relatively new term in the travel industry probably dating back no further than the 70s when it was coined to denote a specialist incoming tor operator, expert in the art and science of logistics as required by upscale, discerning groups.
The year 2008 in the US was a watershed year for Business Events due to the so-called "AIG Effect" which led to the cancellation of billions of dollars of meetings and events business.
The post "AIG effect" fall-out, however, has been entirely positive with our previously fragmented industry finally rallying together and beginning to speak with one voice under the Meetings Mean Business alliance.
MICE, the Meetings Industry, Business Events, M&E, M&I – the list goes on. Different sectors and different geographies all use different names, acronyms, titles to describe an industry that includes meetings, incentives, conferences, congresses, conventions, exhibitions, events.
Research shows that more than 70% of audiences would NEVER ask a question or make a statement or comment during a conference or event. Now Sli.do, the audience engagement platform, gives voice to this silent majority. Patrick and Pádraic have teamed up with Sli.do to create a truly interactive session involving questions | answers, live polling and on-the-spot content curation and selection
Building your brand
Selling your destination
Building your brand
Presenting your brand value proposition
Digital marketing and social media
Dealing in a multi-cultural workplace
Doing business internationally
Maximize your ROI
Criteria for destination selection
A bright future for DMCs?
Introduction to MICE
Maybe it's because we're Irish and have an innate knack for storytelling that all our businesses have been marketing-led, built around creating demand for our products and services by telling compelling stories.
Our marketing activities over the past 20 years have won many awards: from the SITE Crystal Award for a destination marketing project for the Irish Tourist Board to M&IT's Best Marketing Award for a social media campaign for Croke Park Meetings & Events.
As part of an action plan to target international business our client Croke Park Meetings & Events decided to exhibit at IMEX with the objective of building awareness of its unique facilities for a global MICE audience.
Shortly before the show Croke Park Meetings & Events found themselves light on scheduled appointments and needed to act. Together we created a campaign where visitors to the booth could win a VIP trip to Ed Sheeran at Croke Park by accumulating re-tweets or likes of pictures of themselves in colourful Gaelic jerseys.
During our time at Delaney Marketing we created and executed the ground-breaking Ireland: the Luxury Partnership, a destination marketing campaign, with 6 destination partners including the National Tourist Authority, the National Airline and 4 hotel and venue partners. Never before had an agency brought together public and private enterprises to collaborate on a destination-specific campaign, working to a specific 3 year strategy.
In 2007 Ovation Group was acquired by MCI [Switzerland] and we were mandated to create and launch a global destination management brand with its own brand value proposition, standard operational procedures and offices all over the world. Working from a clearly articulated mission, vision and values foundation we create a 6 person management team that over 5 years established Ovation offices on 5 continents.
Tactical Social Media Campaign
Destination Marketing Campaign
New Brand Launch
While we've always believed with Peter Drucker that "culture eats strategy for breakfast" we also know that without strategy there's no breakfast to eat in the first place. Strategy is the road map that takes you where you want to go while culture is the compass that keeps you always pointed in the right direction.
Having taken Ovation from a single destination management company to a 100+ global network of wholly owned offices, partnerships and alliances, we know a thing or two about the vital importance of aligning vision, planning and workplace culture to create platforms of success.
The Slovenian Convention Bureau is a member-based organisation funded by a combination of government contributions and membership fees from convention centres, hotels and venues. Its raison d'être is to attract high yield meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE) to Slovenia. We were asked by Miha Kovočič, Executive Director of the Bureau, to work with him on the creation of a 3 year strategic plan aimed at improving visibility for Slovenia as a MICE destination and improving its position on the ICCA rankings of conference destinations from xx to yy.
Shannon Heritage owns, manages and markets 8 important heritage sites in Ireland in Limerick, Shannon and Dublin that collectively attract over 1 million visitors annually for day tours and evening functions and banquets. A legacy business that started in the early 1960s, Shannon Heritage wanted a total strategic review of their business model with recommendations regarding future growth. We partnered with our great friends at Treacy Consulting to win this tender.
The Westbury Hotel is a 5 star luxury hotel located at the heart of Dublin's City Centre. It is the flagship property for The Doyle Collection, a family owned network of 10 hotels in Ireland, the UK and the USA. In the 1990s The Westbury Hotel was the leading property in Dublin city for lucrative US-originating incentive business. From 2000 onwards, however, it lost its prominent position in this sector due to increased competition from new market entrants. We were asked by the management of the hotel to investigate why and to create a strategy to re-position The Westbury as the first hotel of choice for US incentive buyers.
New Strategy for Meetings, Incentives & Events
SoolNua has played an integral role at Croke Park Meetings & Events for the past three years, helping us to "re-imagine" our venue, our business model and grow sales cumulatively by 75%. Our ambition for Croke Park Meetings & Events is to be regarded as a best-in-class, innovative, creative thought leader within the Events Industry locally, nationally and globally. With on-going investment in the training of our team, in the development of our venue, in the quality of our technology and in innovative initiatives such as The Event of the Future we are actively realising our ambition and SoolNua plays a driving role in all of this.
MARK DORMAN, HEAD OF STADIUM BUSINESS, CROKE PARK
As long-time chairperson of ICCA's Best Marketing Award judging panel and moderator of the live competition during our Congress, Patrick has helped make BMA one of our association's annual highlights. Whether number-crunching the data to make sure the voting is objective, or giving an impromptu demonstration of how to correctly wear a sarong (!) when the technology collapsed during one finalist's presentation, he's always a pleasure to work with.
MARTIN SIRK, CEO, ICCA
Pádraic brought the legendary SoolNua energy to Norway recently, delivering a challenging but inspirational speech on how we can grow our market share in the highly competitive MICE marketplace. Collectively SoolNua brings more than 50 years of MICE industry experience to their presentations so they know how to convert the latest business thinking into really practical steps towards success.
FRODE AASHEIM, MANAGING DIRECTOR, NORWAY CONVENTION BUREAU
I don't know where you find all these gems but they're so great! I loved the one about the brain transplant. Thank you brightening social media especially during these crazy election times.
SANDI COTTRELL, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ARTWALK SAN DIEGO
Thank you so much on behalf of the event sales team at Guinness Storehouse. We enjoyed every moment of our unique training session with you. It was a wonderful opportunity for all of the team to get one-to-one training from the experts of our industry. You'll be glad to hear that we have already put your words of wisdom into practice!
GLENN MCCORMACK, SALES & MARKETING MANAGER, SEASONS AT GUINNESS STOREHOUSE
The SoolNua team brought our 30 person FAM trip online to the screens of nearly 7,000 viewers. Our online community was taken on a 3 day journey across the 4 corners of Slovenia through a series of video reporting, live tweeting coverage and photo content. The highlights video produced after the event and the digital footprint left from the stream of posts across Facebook & Twitter gave the 30 people that attended an opportunity to reflect and reconnect with our destination after the event. A great digital and authentic experience rolled into one.
MIHA KOVACIC, CEO, SLOVENIA CONVENTION BUREAU
I underwent a 4 week online one to one training course on Social Media marketing with SoolNua, the course content was tailored to my requirements and very well put together with an engaging format where I could have the content in front of me in manageable sections but also discuss the content in more detail and draw from Aoife's vast experience. Aoife is extremely knowledgeable and gave me valuable insights into the subject and how I can use it going forward both for myself and the company. I was kept involved at every stage of the process from creating the course content to following up after each session. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and have learnt a lot from the content given to me and I would highly recommend the course for those wishing to get more involved with social media both personally and professionally.
SARAH WENMAN, HOTELRES UK
This is an invaluable course for anyone looking to bring their brand into the digital marketing sphere. SoolNua delivers the content in a clear, concise manner and you come away from each session with real, relevant and specific skills that can be put to use in your job immediately. SoolNua is also great at bringing each point back to your own company situation, making the tips, tricks and suggestions that they are putting forward all the more relevant.
SINEAD DELANEY, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT EXECUTIVE, THE WESTIN
Pádraic is married to Rita and together they have 6 children, 1 boy and 5 girls
Pádraic and Patrick have been working together for 20 years, having started Delaney Marketing Consultants in 1994
Patrick is an avid collector of all types of fine art and has been known to return from business trips abroad with more than just his suitcase!
Before Sool Nua, Delaney and Gilligan successfully re-branded 3 times – Delaney Marketing became Ovation became Ovation Global DMC
From Dun Laoghaire pier to the Wicklow Way, from Kilimanjaro to the African bush, Patrick has walked them all!
In 2012 Pádraic was awarded DMC Professional of the Year from ADMEI, the Association of Destination Management Executives International.
Patrick is a member and former President of Carrickmines Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, on of the oldest clubs in Ireland.
Writing and performing his own songs since he was 14, Pádraic was a recent finalist on "The Hit" a reality TV show matching songwriters and artists.
Patrick and Pádraic like to conduct most of their meetings while walking Dun Laoghaire pier
Patrick is married to Mary and together they have 4 children, 1 boy and 3 girls.
In 2013 Patrick was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from Reed Travel Exhibitions at EIBTM, Barcelona.
Already a 3 time veteran of the 180km Ring of Kerry Cycle, Pádraic is an avid cyclist always preferring the bike to the car.
Patrick and Pádraic are much in demand for advisory boards – EIBTM, The Special Events Magazine, IHG, FICP comprising the current roster of assignments
Throughout his teenage years Pádraic worked in a liquor store developing an interest in and a taste for fine wines.
Patrick and Pádraic launch Delaney Marketing Consultants, an Ireland based DMC
Patrick and Pádraic bring SoolNua, another viewpoint for Meetings & Events, all over the world
We work together with the IMEX team to produce exciting and alternative education for the annual Exclusively Corporate at IMEX programme.
We've worked with DotDash on numerous website design & build projects - including our own!
Patrick & Padraic love collaborating with Peter & his team to bring live polling technology into meetings & events.
We are proud to have been part of the recent re-imagining of the meetings and events facilities at Croke Park Stadium.
SoolNua has worked with Destination Slovenia on their MICE strategy for the past couple of years, with a lot of fun marketing mixed in!
SoolNua work closely with Stuart and the Hotel Solutions team to bring their large scale events to life through social media.
SoolNua and Grant Snider worked together on the exciting launch of this innovative company in the meetings & events industry.
SoolNua partnered with Hollywood LED in 2017 on a marketing campaign to light up SoolNua from another viewpoint.
SoolNua partnered with Trippus to help them formulate and refine their strategy for global market entry while utilising Ireland for pilot testing and market research.
SoolNua has moderated conferences for IACC and even given keynote speeches at their events too.