Berlin’s Sleeping Beauties



Episode 1: The City’s event community is ready to bounce back into action


Our roving Berliner Mark Felstead has moved out of his elegant AXICA venue settings where we last met him here, to find out how some other key Berlin business events and MICE players are coping and preparing to bounce back.

In his Berlin’s Sleeping Beauties podcast, he discovers a strong spirit in the destination and MICE community and some fresh ideas and plans for operating in the ‘new normal’ future.

Read more

Times are not easy of course, but Berlin is no ordinary city and creativity is in its DNA as this special podcast illustrates.

Mein Host talks to the head of the Berlin Convention Bureau and representatives from the hotel and venue community, and also a leading DMC and agency.

First up is Marco Oelschlegel, new head of the Berlin Convention Bureau, who explains the new #fromberlinwithlove campaign, which aims to show what you can do today virtually to explore the city’s food, typical places and squares.

He also explains how the government and banks are backing small businesses in the city and have set up a hotline to expedite this.

Martina Goettler from the AXICA near the Brandenburg Gate then invites us to her beautiful Frank Gehry designed venue. Apparently Angela Merkel can’t get enough of the place we hear!

Diane Pantaleri Otto from Europe’s largest hotel congress and events complex, the Estrel Hotel Berlin, paints a picture of a very different world now, but says the venue is not losing time and has big plans for the end of the year, including collaborating on the fifth annual German Christmas bakery event in London.

Valentina Azzoni from CAMONSITE DMC cycles in to talk about Berlin’s ability to reinvent itself. Her agency specialises in green and sustainable activities and she talks about how some of the smaller suppliers have been supporting each other in these difficult times.

Nikolas Blischke,is head of meetings and incentives at the Time Change Agency in Berlin, and says he hopes the spirit of standing and working together will continue also in the new normal. Some positive energy has definitely come out of this diversity, he says. His company has been adapting its registration tools for delegating personnel in the new digital reality. Listen out for some amusing chat about the local delicacy, white asparagus.

The finale of Mark’s entertaining podcast brings back onto the virtual stage all these new ‘Friends’ – but we’ll leave it up to you to decide if they have a career in music. I suspect Simon Cowell may think otherwise!


Episode 2: Berlin’s Sleeping Beauties start to wake up


In the second of AXICA’s Mark Felstead’s Berlin podcasts – powered jointly by Mash Media – Mark talks about ‘Re-Boarding’ – that is getting people back to work after lockdown.

In his unique Prince Charming style, Mark asks what it means for Berlin to slowly be waking up to the New Normal. He also asks why re-boarding is now so relevant in this fast-moving situation, and also whether the managers are ready to deal with the challenges involved in our hospitality and MICE sector. And who is managing the managers?

Read more

Mark goes on to discuss re-creating that all important ‘We’ feeling with Patrick Havenstein from leading teambuilding company Teamgeist, who joins the conversation to explore how to bring back that loving feeling of Team Spirit. 

The return to our teams after isolation in lockdown and working in our home offices is a transition to think about carefully.

As the Bundesliga players run out for their second season debuts in May, there is clearly also a rebuilding job to be done in terms of teams in our business.

If the UK and the US are still in the changing rooms (to continue the metaphor), with lockdown starting later, then Berlin is a few weeks ahead, and Mark points out that Berliners have seen beer gardens and cafés slowly start to open in the city. 

Other businesses will start to re-open, too, but many challenges remain, particularly, our podcast players note, that of getting employees and managers both back into work and back into the mindset of working as part of a team again.

Patrick picks up the ball and runs us through the kind of soft skills necessary now for managers operating in these times of New Normality. He also has some suggestions for teambuilding events that can be held completely remotely but which, nevertheless, can still bring people together and further that re-bonding process.


Episode 3: Exclusive interview with Ivor Cummins


Our roving Berlin Prince Charming, Mark Felstead moves out his AXICA comfort zone to deliver an exclusive interview for CMW with Ivor Cummins, a leading bio chemical engineer and globally respected thought leader on Covid-19. He is also author of Eat Rich Live Long.

Read more

This podcast is essential listening, especially for those over 40 and, in the course of the talk, Ivor Cummins reveals to Mark the most powerful thing you can do (right now) to reduce your chances of a severe coronavirus outcome or even death! Listeners will find out it’s a lot simpler than they may think. 

There is also discussion around insulin resistance and the best way to reduce the risk of getting Type 2 Diabetes and its many associated illnesses, including arteriosclerosis and CVD (Cardio Vascular Disease).

Mark also relates how he found Ivor, what he learnt from his book and shares his own emotional journey of the last 18 months – and how he could have possibly avoided some of the severe bumps in that road. (He survived two ‘Widow Maker’ heart attacks).

Do keep listening to the end as Ivor will tell you how to get one of his ‘Must see’ films for free!


Episode 4


In Mark Felstead’s latest episode of Berlin’s Sleeping Beauties (a joint project between the AXICA Event Centre and CMW), he talks again to Patrick Havenstein from Teamgeist about a very creative and sustainable teambuilding event – The Insect Hotel!

Read more

In Berlin you can contribute to your local environment and upcycle art all as part of your teambuilding event!

Albert Einstein once said: “If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live”. Now there’s a thought with a full force of sustainable gravity to consider for your next teambuilding event. 

Patrick introduces the XXL Insect Hotel project and explains how it can help us be creative while doing something positive for the environment at the same time. The basic idea is all about creating a home for those bees.

Patrick is indeed a busy bee, too, and in a second fly past, discusses ‘Sustainable Art’ and how to sculpture to create ‘Upcycling Art’, a project – using discarded work clothes and chicken mess to create sculptures – which not only has zero material waste but one which can also lead to awards and charity donations.

Click on the podcast above to hear all about it.


STOP PRESS: The AXICA Ideenfrühstück goes hybrid

The Ideenfrühstück at the AXICA (ideas breakfast) has become a very popular event among the German event professionals, providing a weekly platform for inspiration, innovation and ideas exchange.

Initially it was held as a physical event, with a sumptuous breakfast at the AXICA to follow. More recently, it has become a virtual event, proving equally as popular with over 300 event professionals logging in to view a line up of top guests and speakers.

On 10 June, (09.00 CET), for the first time, the ideas breakfast goes hybrid and will be in English.

The live part event will have an audience of 50 people (because that is now allowed in Berlin provide all the appropriate hygiene measures are taken) and those wishing to join the virtual audience and explore the possibilities for hybrid events in Berlin, can register here.


Episode 5: Prepared for take off


The latest podcast episode from AXICA Berlin’s Mark Felstead, in conjunction with Mash Media, updates us on what events are currently allowed to be held in Berlin. Viewers will also get expert insights on how the next phases of the loosening of the restrictions might effect the process of hosting events in the city.

Read more

There is also a new prognosis on that long running saga surrounding the city’s airports and, in particular, some good news on the opening of Berlin’s new city airport!

Marco Oelschlegel, Berlin’s recently appointed Head of the Berlin Convention Office and main guest expert on this week’s show, offers valuable insights on all the above themes and more. He offers a rundown of the current situation in the city for both tourists (so sadly missed) and marks the cards for planners intent on hosting events in the capital. Marco explains the phasing in of the loosening of the restrictions, with Germany’s Senate now realising just how important the event and tourism industry is to the city’s economy.

Mark and Marco also explore the prognosis for air travel returning to the city and discuss some live and hybrid events taking place this week.


Episode 6: K.I.T. Group’s View of Moving Forward in Berlin’s Event Industry


In this episode AXICA’s Mark Felstead interviews the MD of leading PCO K.I.T. Group, Merryn Scholz, on a range of topical issues, including how medical associations are being affected by the situation around Covid-19. She discusses navigating the process of finding new dates for their events in the coming years and also how they are fitting in re-bookings of cancelled conferences into the calendar. For some the knock-on effects go right into 2024.

Read more

We hear how Scholz and her team have been extremely busy the last months trying to renegotiate with hotels and congress centres around the globe. Mark Felstead is given unique, behind-the-scenes insights into how challenging this has been for all concerned.

Scholz makes it clear that, when dealing with this very unusual situation, the sharing of best practice and knowledge among the global PCO community has been vital and is something that has definitely influenced the contracting of, and negotiations with, venues and destinations for years to come.

Scholz explains how K.I.T. Group had the foresight to equip its staff of 120 around the globe with the necessary hardware and software for working from home.

And, as head of one of Europe’s leading hotel bookers (more than 150,000 room nights a year), she shares her take on the complexities of event law, contracting and insurance – all important considerations for the future as businesses strive to avoid some of the challenges posed by any possible second wave of Covid.

Scholz clarifies some important differences between a PCO and a DMC and discusses the future facing larger events, hybrid and physical and whether big public events (such as the Fan Mile, organised by K.I.T. Group during the 2006 World Cup in Germany) might make a return, as well as the chances of this year’s cancelled European Cup making it into 2021!