There’s really only one way to describe the guest room that planners toured at the Hotel Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers, one of seven hotels on the itinerary of a three-day fam trip hosted by Visit Denmark and Wonderful Copenhagen in early December.
It was a mess.
A tangle of sheets were wadded on the unmade bed, a partially drunk bottle of whiskey sat on a desk, and a man’s white shirt was hanging from a lampshade. It was something that none of the 59 meeting-planner participants was likely to have encountered on a hotel tour before — and that was just the point.
Along with showing off Copenhagen’s meeting spaces, hotels, cuisine, and attractions, the “MINDevent” fam tour also introduced participants to “Meetovation,” a set of meeting-design principles adopted by Visit Denmark. Meetovation includes the kind of risk-taking creativity — like staging a sleek and stylish hotel room to look as if a sloppy meeting attendee has just stepped out — that creates memorable experiences.
The fam got off to a fairytale start with lunch at Nimb Terrasse, a bistro-inspired restaurant in the fanciful Tivoli Gardens, in the heart of the city. Winter days are cold and short in Copenhagen, but the myriad lights that illuminate the 170-year-old park during its annual Christmas Market season were already glowing mid-afternoon as we split into small groups to explore the cobbled streets of the historic city center.
The opening dinner was in the Tivoli Congress Hall, at the downtown Tivoli Hotel & Congress Centre, which has a capacity for 4,000 attendees. But that night, the ballroom felt like the scene of a holiday dinner with a very large — and fun-loving — extended family. After a cocktail reception, a traditional Santa Lucia procession of young girls dressed in white and holding candles led us to our tables, where we feasted on roast duck, cabbage, and rice pudding with cherry sauce, another Danish Christmas tradition.
It was impossible to feel you were anywhere else but Denmark, and that was by design. Connecting the meeting experience with the local destination is another hallmark of Meetovation-centered design. That feeling was carried over to the next night, when we were guests of various Danish hosts in their own homes for cocktail hour — a warmly hospitable touch.
During the next two days, hotel site visits doubled as mini meeting-design seminars. Ann Hansen, who co-founded the Meetovation concept, used the modern, funky spaces of the 486-room, 18-story Hotel Scandic Copenhagen as a canvas to present research about how non-traditional room sets positively affect collaboration at meetings. Then planners experimented with creating their own room sets in miniature, using scissors, paper, clay, and other materials.
Mini-sessions at the Radisson Blu Falconer Hotel & Conference Center introduced participants to the hotel’s “Experience Meetings” program, which includes elements such as a “Brain Box” breakout room, with movable lounge chairs and cushions and write-on walls. Lunch featured Radisson Blu’s “Brain Food” concept, which uses mostly locally sourced ingredients that are selected and prepared in ways that help keep attendees’ blood-sugar levels constant and aid mental concentration.
The tour also showcased nontraditional meeting spaces, including Copenhagen Street Food, a rustic, fun collection of food booths and food trucks housed in a warehouse on Paper Island in Copenhagen Harbour, and The Blue Planet, built to look like a seashell, sitting on the headlands overlooking the Baltic Sea. And the tour ended as memorably as it began — with candlelit, petal-strewn, warm footbaths for participants who took off their shoes and socks to sit in a circle in the ballroom of the luxe Hilton Copenhagen Airport, winner of “Best Business Hotel” in Copenhagen five years in a row.
In true Meetovation style, the closing session blended sensory experience with practical results: Polling devices in every seat in the Hilton ballroom allowed planners to record their impressions of the city and the event at the end of the fam tour.