Berlin’s Awakening Beauties

Episode 8: Kay Soelve Richter

In this episode of Berlin’s Awakening Beauties, our host Mark Felstead talks to one of Germany’s Breakfast TV celebrities.

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Kay-Sölve Richter (pictured) is a woman Mark confesses he often shares his morning coffee with – via TV of course, as she is the News Anchor for ZDF Breakfast TV.

Kay is an absolute bundle of energy and floods the podcast waves with her passion and energy as she explains making the transition from TV to being a top presenter at live events. She also describes her work as a super coach for people presenting on stage or in front of the camera. And she shares with us her top three tips for presenting to a large audience.

Of course, Kay has been in demand for Gala Dinners pre-Covid (remember those?) and now, too, for hybrid and virtual events.

Kay advises treating the pandemic as an opportunity, although agrees “nothing can replace face to face”.

Get ready, then, for a high-octane ride on the Richter scale, together with Kay and Mark, who, for once, is briefly lost for words himself. She predicts a future packed with hybrid events.

If you like what you hear from Kay, there is a lot more to be learnt from her new book Executive Presence – How to present to audiences when it really has to count!

Mark adds that Kay is not only in his kitchen in the mornings, but also by the bedside at night as he flips the pages.

In your dreams, Mark!

Episode 7: Virtual meetings ‘Old Master’ from Holland

Our regular BAB host Axica Berlin’s Mark Felstead talks to flying Dutchman Matthijs Otto (pictured) from Amsterdam-based Networktables, who relates an event industry ‘success story’ of 2020.

How many times have you been seated at a gala dinner or event networking where the people next to you have no business synergies with you or common interests, albeit they may be fine industry professionals too? Networktables found its niche and seat at the events top table, by specialising in getting people sitting and talking together at events who actually wanted to meet and have things in common.

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Their software means an individual attendee at a sales conference, for example, would host a table and people would register to sit at that table, meaning the host had some control over his or her table and the guest would feel a certain obligation to attend knowing they had reserved a place of their choice.

Networktables has won many awards for increasing attendee participation and engagement at exhibitions and events of all kinds. The original impetus for the idea was to serve the exhibition community by allowing meetings to be established between parties who had real interests, Otto explains in this episode 7 of the BAB podcast. The idea is also for exhibitors to not just spend their time randomly talking to passers by in the exhibition hall.  “Basically, people don’t like walking around like headless chickens,” he says, and explains to Mark how his company’s technology improves the networking process all round.

Virtual events can be a good and cheap platform to experiment with new ideas that, if successful, can transfer to physical events, Otto explains. “People; will organise a physical event and use year-round online platforms. This can be done by membership to keep attendees engaged. You can sell tickets earlier, a year out…There are many tools and so much virtual event tool choice. Quality will remain.

“An event should not be a TV show. Look at your event programme to make engaging content,” says Otto.

As far back as 2017 Networktables were hosting virtual events for upwards of 20,000 participants, Otto adds. This meant his company was well placed when the pandemic caused a shift last year to virtual and hybrid events. Indeed, it reported revenue growth during 2020 of 160%. In 2021 the aim, says Otto, is to continue the growth.

“We have launched Networktables in-built webinars, which can power up to 2,000 attendees,” he adds. “Just open a web-based link. There’s no need to download. We can facilitate any type of event, including award shows.”

Otto says the company is now hiring more people and continuing to innovate the product. Big events, he says, are all in need of innovative concepts and looking for advice.

Episode 6: Germany’s Spiderman spins his digital event production web

This week our host Mark Felstead talks to Tim Nievelstein about his work as an event director and bringing his movie and TV editing and production skills and values to the world of digital and hybrid events.

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Tim worked for many years as an editor on the production team for Stefan Raab – Germany’s premiere late night TV talk show host and one of the most popular figures in the country. Stefan Raab broadcast for 16 years without missing a show.

With events having to change and master new omnichannel delivery methods and borrow from the world of TV production and entertainment high values to create digital ‘fireworks and noise’, as Tim puts it, it is to directors that are brought up as digital production natives that clients are turning if they want to produce quality events online.

So, listen to the ‘Tim takeaways’ teased out by Mark Felstead as Tim also talks about his appreciation of Berlin as a ‘vivid city’ for events and of the new-found professional pleasure of receiving authentic, direct reactions from live audiences to his event direction.

This crossover from a TV director to the ‘new normal’ duties of an event director post-Covid will have many in live events and experiential creation rethinking how they spend their budgets and about how they, too, can raise the bar on production standards.

Tim describes himself as the ‘Spider in the Web’, conducting the events orchestra. And he is certainly raising the game for digital events and helping drag us kicking and screaming into 2021!

He also cautions on the need to involve digital storytelling techniques early in the process for best effect, and notes that quality has improved fast over the past few months as event organisers are forced to think more about staging, lighting and other production values more than ever before. “We all have ingrained viewing habits of watching television for many years,” says Tim. “And an average digital event can still look like TV from the 1960s. The key, he says, is to “stay hungry to make it better every day.”

Tim has been in Berlin this January working on the main congress of this year’s digital-only version of The Grüne Woche (Green Week agricultural tradefair) – one of the big three tradefairs in Berlin. Sadly the virtual version this year does not have a public element, but Tim has been working on the digital conference part of the event.

While he seems to be the right man in the right place, at the right time with his box of expert digital skills, Tim may miss the slightly brighter TV lights, but says he has learned to live without the necessary TV hairstyle! His final words are that he sees 2021 as a year of hope. “People are already making plans to meet up in person for events in the fourth quarter and ‘smell’ each other again at live events! Nothing can replace face-to-face with all the emotions involved.” In the meantime, if you need a digital Spiderman to direct your action, you know who to call.

Episode 5: Health and safety paramount – in any event

Our host Mark Felstead kicks off the first episode of the New Year in the company of Olaf Jastrob, one of Germany’s leading experts in Health and Safety (including hygienic measures) for event venues and cultural establishments.

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We will learn, in an episode packed full of sage advice:

  • In the case of a worst case scenario e.g. a fire hazard, act of terrorism, Super Spreader attending an event, who is actually liable for the considerable damages that may be caused?
  • The importance of having a documented ‘Risk Assessment’ and ’hygiene Concept’ for every event – and the consequences you risk when you don’t!
  • The importance of having a qualified Hygiene Marshal on site
  • That not all hand disinfectants are the same
  • About new career opportunities appearing in the events sector.

Olaf Jastrob has spent over 30 years in the industry and is today one of the most sought after consultant and trainers on the subject of health and safety for events.

He talks about the importance of having a water-tight hygiene concept and risk-analysis for every event and the possible consequences of having a so-called Super Spreader event, something that will become increasingly top of mind when we recommence events after Covid.

The episode also examines the important question of who is actually liable between the various parties involved in the organising and carrying out of events. Olaf makes it very clear that should a worst case or disaster scenario take place during an event, the consequent financial and legal penalties can be huge.

Also, we learn about some of the proper measures venues, hotels and restaurants can take to help neutralise Covid and how important having someone in the role of Hygienic Marshal will be in the future to check and police events for ‘Covid Conformality’ and the training courses available for this – which could become a real career chance with the events job market being squeezed, to say the least.

Episode 4: Christmas Special

A festive end of year welcome from Mark Felstead and his Merry Crowd that first brought Berlin`s Sleeping Beauties to life, as they deliver Christmas messages of hope from Berlin!

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Our host has done his best throughout the past year to take a positive spin on what has been, clearly as for many, a disastrous year for Berlin and its event industry.

Let his Berlin Beauties – from event venues, event agencies and the city’s convention bureau – spread some hope and cheer into your festivities as we draw to the end of this 2020 chapter and look forward with full hearts and optimism to 2021.

As always, we leave the last word to Mark: “Merry Christmas and a very happy and healthy New Year from all in Berlin!

We shall be back with new gusto in 2021 and a big thank you to AXICA, Mash Media and all our listeners for allowing me to bring these episodes to you.”

Episode 3: Jane Porter

Berlin’s Awakening Beauties meets Studio 104, leading bespoke uniform designer for luxury and premium hospitality brands, to hear some good news stories and to give inspiration for those who are struggling with our beloved events industry currently!!

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Firstly, Ian shares with us some of his “Magic Moments” from Berlin and talks about Gehry’s “Best Thing I’ve Ever Done” architecture, drawing his own comparisons to the times he has spent in the city.

Meanwhile his partner Jane, who launched her company Studio 104 ten years ago, talks about her story and the challenges she faced as a young woman launching her own business and what it takes to succeed – empowering stuff!

Studio 104 is not only designing bespoke uniforms for some of the top luxury hotels around the world, but it is expanding rapidly!

Both go to portray how a career in the events business can act as a launch pad onto other pastures green!

Finally, she and her partner share with us some great advice for those wanting to set up their own business and how to make it a success! So stick around til the end of the podcast!

For film buffs there are even some tenuous links between Mod fashion, Quadrophenia and Bell Boys!!

Episode 2: Peter Antoni

This week’s special guest is none other than one of the true Godfathers of Berlin’s Event industry – Peter Antoni!!

Peter has been one of the major players in the business in Berlin since its fledgling beginnings as an international destination of note way back in 1989 with the coming down of the wall.  You can say he is living proof of being in the right place at the right time!!

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Peter has had the fortune to follow his own destiny, which has seen him involved in many great projects in the city and beyond over the years, from being one of the first to bring cruise ship tours to the city to the dizzying heights of the MTV Awards.

As a confirmed Anglophile he has a special relationship with the UK, and through his years at the head of Conference and Touring he has also been mentor to many of today’s personalities in our city’s events landscape.

Let’s hear together:

The prognosis for the future of events in the city

How those working in the backroom have been further thrown into the shadows of our industry through lockdown.

How Berlin and Germany are taking to the streets to protest to the government to help tackle this lack of funding -Code Red Alert!

Hear how I am still getting my words muddled up!!


How the MICE industry needs to speak with one voice … (hopefully stronger than mine right now!)

How Berlin now finally has its new airport BER and the first impressions thereof 

(and we wave a fond farewell to TEGEL)

How Peter has – after 18 months of sabbatical – now helps to steer the metamorphosis for the agency Time Change to a successful full-service communications agency, complete with tech tools for registration, virtual events and hybrid meetings.

Finally, how fate and the universe has drawn us together in the most unlikely settings!!

Episode 1: Ivor Cummins

Once again, an exclusive interview with Ivor Cummins, @fatemperor and a left field take on the Corona pandemic, and an look at the Science, Data and Statistics we are seeing today.

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Stick around listeners and hear:

  • The lockdowns and their cost benefit 
  • What traffic lights today mean!!
  • How more testing might automatically include more false positives

The Tiger Horn fable and we ask the question “Who is still blowing the horn today?”

But equally important

What simple environmental systems and interventions can we implement to reduce our risks of infections.

And finally we look at the white elephant in the room, type 2 diabetes, and how we can strengthen our immune system massively through a real food diet and our good friend vitamin D!!!


Ivor Cummins @fatemperor (youtube & twitter)

The Great Barrington Declaration:

Mark Felstead Linkedin:

Disclaimer:  This interview was recorded in mid-October and some of the figures mentioned have changed.  Unfortunately there was a slight delay in editing and releasing, my apologies.