Awards à la française

// Katharina Brauer

France's key industry fair, held in tandem with th e Heavent Awards, is increasingly international. The Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes is the ideal venue.

Photo: Weyou Group

Event gala. The Heavent Awards have been an international event since 2016. 131 events, 17 of them international, were submitted for the 13th Heavent Awards on 28 March 2019 at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes. 45 made it onto the shortlist. “What makes the difference here is objectivity. The audience’s votes count for 40 percent of the rating, and the jury’s 60 per cent,” said Mark Bannister, Technical Director of UK-based George P. Johnson, who was in the running in the B2B event category with the event Cisco Live.

There were awards in a total of nine categories. Five agencies in each category presented their event with a short film. The jury’s Grand Prix, presented by Romuald Gadrat, President of the organiser, the Weyou Group, went to the French agency Hopscotch for an event commissioned by the Fédération des Industries Mécaniques.

In addition to the Award for Incentives and Teambuilding, the Grand Prix of the International Jury, which went to the Atolye Group, a Turkish agency, was also new in 2019. It was presented by Katja Balcke, who has been in charge of international relations for the Heavent Awards for seven years.

“Two German agencies, StudioNow & onliveline and 3c Creative Communication Concepts, were on the shortlist. I see how proud it makes the recipients to receive a Heavent Award and how they make proactive use of it to promote themselves,” observed Balcke. She pointed to the composition of the jury as evidence of the event’s quality. The Heavent Awards jury is made up exclu‧sively of corporate representatives (most of them French).

The accompanying fair, Heavent Meetings, which was held on 27 and 28 March in the Espace Riviera of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, went international in 2013. “58 of the 490 hosted buyers are international, from 19 different countries,” explained Balcke. They got 25 appointments each. Before these were confirmed, they were compared with the priorities of the 400 exhibitors.

“This is France’s showcase. Anyone planning an event in France is in the right place here,” said Sven Sauer of the Erfurt-based agency Das Schwarze Schaf. “It’s nice and compact”, said Stefan Luzar of the Triple MPR Group. “The exhibitor invited me to lunch, where I was able to chat to other planners,” reported one planner from Paris.

The exhibition was subdivided into separate sections for agencies, destinations and technology, with the majority of the exhibitors being French. “It is the most important industry fair here by some distance,” said Pierre Fernandez, the Director of the newly opened Congrès Cap d’Agde Mediterranée, who was happy with the enquiries he received. A new centre opened in Metz in 2018 as well, where 15 environment ministers at the G7 Summit met in the first week of May this year.

Pierre-Jean Guerra, Director of Business Travel Tourism in Metz, is looking forward to numerous conferences on French tech, which is a prime area of focus in Metz. Exhibitor Vincent Roux, who was representing the Paris quarter of Bercy, which has venues for up to 20,000 and also makes successful use of the Event Canvas method in France, praised the quality of the hosted buyers. The partners at the stand of the Dominican Republic wanted to book more space in 2020. “With 35 flight departures a week, France is our most important European source market, in the MICE segment as well,” said Carmen Willig of the Dominican Republic Tourist Board.

The presentations gave insights into the practical aspects of live communication the brand experience. On 28 March Jonathan Shaw, Director of Communications for the UK and Australia at Huawei Technologies, reported on the launch of a new product the day before in the new Centre de Congrès in Paris. A colleague of Mark Bannister described the Cisco Live event, which was attended by 70,000 at Fira Barcelona in 2018: “The challenge is to built confidence in the brand. That works best by tapping into emotions.”

The Heavent Awards and Heavent Meetings are established as a brand thanks to the efforts of Aliki Heinrich of the host venue. A German citizen, Heinrich is MICE Director at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès and also runs the Cannes Convention Bureau. She welcomes 26 trade fairs a year, all of which are regular guests. “The nice thing about Heavent Meetings is that all the evening receptions are open to everyone. That leads to a feeling of it being a shared experience,” said Aliki.