Honorable Mention Chapter Award
Honorable Mention Chapter Award

How to Turn the Lockdown into Unlocking Your Potential

May 11, 2020, 14:25 PM by Johnalee Johnston
Per Ankaer, a 2020 member of MPI’s European Advisory Council, shares his personal experience of education networks during the COVID-19 crisis and offers assistance to those navigating the "new normal."
Per Ankaer, a 2020 member of MPI’s European Advisory Council, shares his personal experience of education networks during the COVID-19 crisis and offers assistance to those navigating the "new normal."

When the lockdown hit Scandinavia early March 2020 my first thought was, OK, this will be short-term. After a few weeks of hard work assisting clients in moving or cancelling events, I realized this was going to be serious and have long-term effect.

Many of our clients and suppliers were in a limbo and did not know how to react to the crises and, of course, in some cases were afraid of losing their jobs or their business. I also did not know exactly which way it would go, but having worked through financial crises, volcanic eruptions, strikes and other crises, I knew one thing is important: Try to stay calm and get the overview. The overview you also get from using input from the network you are member of, like MPI, and then come up with a selection of solutions, evaluate and select when you find best.

While assisting our clients, I saw many friends in the business trying to find ways to handle the crises, so I decided to offer free advice and consultancy on my LinkedIn profile. It was very well received with over 1.500 views and several people reaching out.

What has always motivated me has been to be of assistance to other people. Assisting them in experiencing great events or assisting them on getting wiser or moving on in life. When you assist you get inspired and learn to think in a different way and understand other cultures and people.

In Denmark, the government supported companies like ours with compensation for salaries and fixed expenses so we could work on reduced time and keep the companies going for a while. The time spent was used on further education from MPI and other organizations. I could see the need for education and many people either had the time and/or the need to get wiser, so I suggested MPI and other organizations to open up their webinars and online education for non-members for free.

This was very well received and many non-MPI members have now taken online classes. The next step for us as MPI members is to see the non-members become part of the MPI community once the crises is over and meetings start coming back. That is when you need a strong organization, a strong network and good educational background (and a bit of luck).

In Denmark, I got some of the local meeting planners and agencies together and we offered the Health Authorities assistance in the logistics of setting up COVID-19 test centers. The offer was very well received.

As the crises is moving into the next step with soft openings of societies, the meeting industry will very slowly enter a new normal situation. There will be new ways of working together, new business models and new conditions. Also, here there is a need for good advice and ideas and maybe to disrupt the way we do meetings. I have suggested to the other members of the MPI European Advisory Council that we offer free consultancy until the end of June 2020 in order to assist other MPI members getting through this, get inspired and seeing the benefits of a strong network like MPI.

If we can assist in getting the meeting industry back on track a bit faster, it will be a reward for us. Stronger together!

Please feel free to contact any of below EAC members for a friendly advice, suggestions to move forward or just motivation and how to get into the new normal.

Paula Blomster, congress manager, Helsinki Expo & Convention Center


Robbert Weddepohl, operational and commercial director of Van der Valk International


Suzanne Medcalf Mulligan, senior community engagement manager, IMEX Group


Pieter Allaerts, chair of MPI's European Advisory Council, board member of IACC, director of sales & marketing at Dolce by Wyndham La Hulpe Brussels


Per Ankaer, sales director, MCI Nordics


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