Following the launch of Connect16 this year, EN catches up with founder Nicola McGrane on experiencing the essence of Ireland.
In the exhibition industry, we are always seeking new places to network, to do business, to learn and places to be inspired.
For Ireland, that comes in the form of confex event, Connect16.
The inaugural event launched this year to showcase the best of the events industry in Ireland. It provided a meeting place for those organising events in nationally or globally.
Connect16 featured more than 170 hotels, venues and event suppliers, tastings per region, the best of entertainment and 30 educational seminars.
The event is the brainchild of Nicola McGrane, managing director of Conference Partners, one of Ireland’s leading business events specialists, who believes strongly in the political, social, economic, cultural, and educational value of the business tourism industry to Ireland.
“In Connect16, we wanted to create a platform to showcase our most talented speakers, entertainment acts, corporate activities and the very best of Irish food and drink, all of which are crucial in creating the unique Irish experience of which we are renowned,” says McGrane.
“By seeing our world-class infrastructure first hand, and experiencing the true essence of Ireland through our people, culture, music and dance, I’m confident that we can continue to grow the sector at a significant rate and attract further valuable international business to our shores.”
The ‘experiential and educational experience like no other in Ireland’ brought together professionals of the meetings industry to get to know Ireland’s business tourism offering under one roof, on 28 September at the RDS.
Classed as an incubator of innovative Ireland by the management team, Connect16 wanted to create inspiration for visitors, whether it was for conferences, exhibitions, corporate hospitality, team-building, training days, company away days, hotel bookings, press conferences, meetings, product launches, drinks receptions, gala dinners, corporate parties and private dinners.
“This all underpins Ireland’s position as the go-to destination for national and international congresses and events, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to showcase our country to some of the leading international events professionals as part of it,” McGrane adds.
How to leverage the talent of a city to attract international meetings, The Changing Age of Technology – Disruption at its best, and Human Connectivity: The Fascinating Science Powering Human Connectivity were among the keynote sessions and panel debates at the inaugural event.
Speakers included Jonathan Bradshaw (The Meetology Lab), Ross Mooney (Google), Mark Henry (Tourism Ireland), and Eoghan O’Mara Walsh (Irish Tourist Industry Confederation).
Miriam Kennedy, head of business tourism with Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority says: “Business tourism is one of the highest yield sectors in tourism and worth €669m a year to the economy.
“Therefore, Connect16 provides a unique opportunity to showcase Ireland and persuade these top international meeting planners to bring their future conference and incentive business to these shores.”
Nicola McGrane established Conference Partners in 1998 and is the founder and driving force behind Connect16. She is also a founding member of The Association of Irish Professional Conference Organisers and is a council member for the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers.