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Interview with Eda Özden, Managing Director at MEP Destination Business Solutions. As the Managing Director at MEP Destination Business Solutions in Istanbul Turkey, Eda roams the world to build relationships and educate the world about Turkey as a destination. She also aims to raise awareness of the incentive travel industry through her work as a board member for SITE Global Association.

“Be open to change and bending rules”

Q: What do you desire the most at the moment?

Crowded places! I am laughing at all the times I was frustrated because it took me a while to get my cocktail due to a crowded bar. Now I would cherish that so much, try to talk to as many people as possible – embrace the energy!

Q: Why do you love organising events?

I would say two things. Dynamism for one, no two days would ever be the same. Even an event at the same venue would be different. Two, the adrenaline. The adrenaline of rushing to get all things right in the lead up to the event and then watching the result with an inexpressible satisfaction (albeit a tired one!).

Q: Can you present the tool or app you use the most during the corona crisis?

I am sure we all used Zoom or Teams more than anything else but to add one that might not be so well known: Vmix. It taught me to use my camera as a video player without having to worry about broadband strength.

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Q: How would you explain to a client why organising events is essential?

No tech product can ever be as effective as people coming together to create synergy. Bosses need their teams to work harmoniously; leaders need to connect with their staff on all levels, and new ideas need to sprout with the excitement that is brainstorming. Companies need their people to adopt their values. The easiest, most lasting, and effective way of achieving all this is through bringing people together.

Q: Is it easier to organise digital or live events?

I think equally easy and equally hard, just very different. Both need meticulous planning and diligent procurement practices to bring the right parties together. They both incite the same level of adrenaline rush! But of course, digital events are newer, and they are developing at an exponential pace. It is a new era, and we all need to adapt constantly. So, in that sense, maybe digital is a bit more challenging.

Q: Is organising digital events cheaper than organising classic events?

Yes, in the sense that you can spend less to bring people together – there are incredibly cheap and easy ways of doing it like a standard Zoom meeting. However, as with everything related to creating a memorable experience, the sky is your limit! If you want to really connect with the attendees on an emotional level and touch the human element, then you not only need the right mindset, but you also need the right budget.

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Photo Credit: MEP Destination Business Solutions

“The most unimaginable projects come to life in the most surprising ways”

Q: If the future of the meetings industry will be green, where do we start?

I truly believe that our industry was using our resources inefficiently. A/V equipment was shipped across borders even though most can be sourced from the destination itself, inspections took place in-person when a virtual one would have been wholly sufficient, leftover food from events often went to waste. I think this period helped all of us reflect, and realize the need to manage our resources better: our time, our goods, our budgets. All sides will be more receptive to green and most often more cost-efficient initiatives and designs.

Q: What will be the key trait of a great event organiser after the corona crisis?

As a Turkish event planner, I can confidently say that through the many crises we lived through, we had already become incredibly agile and flexible. These qualities have become universal now that we know even the craziest of force majeures can take place. Be open to change, be open to bending rules, and most importantly be proud of your flexibility.

Q: What is your view of the future? Where is the meetings industry headed?

Queen Elizabeth II said it best, we will meet again. And we will meet bigger, better, greener – and even wilder. We will much more embrace out of the box ideas; we will make sure we are respectful of our planet, and we will be certain to engage the communities who have been adversely affected by the pandemic.

But at the same time, companies will require better measurement of meeting/event ROI to justify it after such a deep economic blow. So, we will need to focus on quality, not quantity. “Build Back Better,” as Joe Biden and President of SITE Global, Aoife Delaney, say.

Q: What is the most surprising fact about organising events?

How capable mankind is. The most unimaginable projects come to life in the most surprising ways when people come together and face an adrenaline rush together! In my ten years in this industry, I have used these words countless times with all my heart: “I cannot believe we made this happen!”. We CAN move mountains!

EXTRA QUESTION FOR EDA

Q: High Tech or High Touch?

We are a company obsessed with content, we take enormous pride in it, and that what you call High Touch, we call MEP Touch. With the right content (and right mindset) any budget, any technology and programme can make an impact.