Q: What does the title Conventa Ambassador mean to you?Conventa is a truly disruptive trade show for MICE that has built its uniqueness around creativity, innovation, building meaningful connections and being truly “boutique”. These are values that are at the heart of the SoolNua culture too so being ambassadors for Conventa is a natural extension of who we are.

Q: What is the main thing you hope to accomplish as Conventa ambassador?
We hope to highlight that culture of innovation, creativity and connectedness that’s at the heart of Conventa but also to draw attention to South East Europe as a series of wonderful destinations with amazing people, fresh experiences and great value.

Q: You have been in the meetings industry for a very long time. What inspires you?
I guess we’re inspired by the people we’ve met and the places we’ve been. It’s truly a privilege to work in an industry where relationships and connections are so front and central. To have met, worked with and forged friendships with industry greats like Roger Tondeur of MCI, Ray Bloom of IMEX, Christian Mutschlechner of the Vienna Convention Bureau, Martin Sirk of ICCA and so on is an extraordinary honour. Likewise we’re privileged to have been regularly and routinely in astonishing places that most people only dream of going to – Table Mountain in Cape Town, Victoria Falls in Zambia, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Vancouver, the Great Wall of China, Venice, Skellig Michael off the South West Coast of Ireland, the Las Vegas Strip, London, the Soča Valley in Slovenia, Barcelona … the list is endless!

Q: How important is friendship and connectivity in the meetings industry?
Friendships and connectivity are at the heart of the meetings industry. In fact it can often be a real challenge to separate private and professional life in the meetings industry as most people you encounter quickly and naturally becomes your friends! Business contracts tends to be way more than mere transactions in the meeting industry as, inevitably, you’re delivering a service or product to a person you genuinely care about and you’re loathe to let them down. In the meetings industry people go the extra mile all the time.

Q: What changes would you like to see happen in the meetings industry in 2017?
Having been DMCs for many years we’d love to see the intermediary / agency / third party sector of our industry respected and adequately remunerated for the real professional value they bring to events’ delivery. In a disintermediated market, it’s not acceptable that DMCs are often still expected to make a living on mark-ups and commissions. They provide a highly professional service and thus should be paid a professional fee, the same as if they were lawyers or accountants or PR specialists.

Q: What is your prediction for the future of meetings?
“Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose” – technology will continue to be front and central in events but so too will relationships. As we become more and more digital, there’ll be an equal and opposite return to analogue and relationships will become more and more vital in the supply chain. Like the waxing and waning phases of the moon, TR (tactile reassurance = relationships) will increase in importance as AR (augmented reality) and AI (artificial intelligence) decrease.

Q: Greatest idea you have ever had?
Pádraic: My own best idea was and still is to subtract 5 minutes from each day from Sunday to Friday and then add it back on a Saturday night giving us all an hour more in bed on a Sunday morning. It’s a genius idea but I haven’t been successful yet in persuading any government or EU leader to champion it.

Patrick: I think the SoolNua #worldIceCreamindex was my best idea ever and I’m thrilled to see that it’s gaining great traction as it enters its third year.

Q: Do you have any regrets in life, in your career?
Patrick: I’m definitely with Edith Piaf – “Je ne regret rien”

Pádraic: I finally read English novelist, George Eliot’s 19th century masterpiece Middlemarch in 2015 and I greatly regret not having read it sooner. It’s a wonderful, potentially life changing novel.

Pádraic Gilligan, Managing Partner at SoolNua, Ireland

He has over 20 years of leadership experience both nationally and internationally in the Tourism sectors growing and managing companies and business units. He has a proven track record in sales having co-founded Delaney Marketing Consultants with Patrick Delaney in 1994 and grown it by 2005 into Ireland’s largest conference and event agency with revenues of €20m.
Over the past 30 years he has served in a wide variety of leadership roles including Head of Department while teaching at Belvedere College SJ, Managing Director at Ovation Group, Global Vice President at MCI, Chairman of various pan-industry committees at Bord Failte / Tourism Ireland and International President of the association Site.
One of the highlights of his career thus far was the inclusion of Ovation among the Top 50 companies to work for in Ireland.


Patrick M Delaney, Managing Partner at SoolNua, Ireland

Following his degree in Hospitality Management, he worked for the Irish Tourist Board for many years in Ireland and the US. He returned to Ireland in the early 90s to run the highly successful Adare Festival and worked as Sales and Marketing Director for the five star Adare Manor.
He was the first non US international president of Site (Society of Incentive and Travel Executives). He was also the only Irish person to be recognised by Conference & Incentive Travel (UK) for inclusion in their Power 50 list; a directory of the most inspirational people in the UK and Ireland.
Patrick has been honoured with various awards at the meeting and events industry’s premier shows, EIBTM and IMEX. He has also been a speaker for a number of industry events and continue to give regular seminars and lectures across all five continents of the world.