Unlocking Madrid’s secrets

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Unlocking Madrid’s secrets

Paul Colston joins a Spanish spy trail in Madrid and comes away with plenty of information for event planners, especially those on a sustainable mission:

A 1940s themed spy mission to Madrid was a recent invitation from the capital city’s convention bureau to 16 selected European MICE buyers. CMW’s own secret sleuth joined the trail, aiming to track down the mysterious spy Tom Burns, following a programme inspired by one of the tours from the first edition of the Original Tours of Madrid.

The game-like format of ‘The Missing Spy’ element of the wider Madrid Agency Forum in September revealed a new and undiscovered side of the city. It also brought participants and the city’s suppliers and CVB members closer together in a spirit of adventure and collaboration.

HQ was the Westin Place Madrid, situated right in the heart of the city, next to the Cortes and the Prado Museum.

The spy trail was a great way to experience the city and its delights first-hand, with guides interspersing the game element with information on the city’s heroes and heritage.

There was plenty of time for tapas and sampling other culinary delights and, back at the hotel, the buyers were able to talk and meet with representatives of the city’s tourism industry in 300 separate and snappy business meetings.

There was a lunch at the traditional Posada de la Villa and a dinner amid the ornate setting of Casa de América, as well as site visits to the Four Seasons Madrid and the renovated Canopy by Hilton Madrid Castellana.

For this football fan, there was a chance to sit on one of Ronaldo’s beds – perhaps I should elaborate – more of a show round of the CR7 Madrid Gran Via hotel part-owned by the Manchester United football star. Certainly a boutique experience for those interested in a football themed venue and hotel.

There was a also a taste of Madrid’s old crafts and artisan sector, including a chance to see how a classical Spanish guitar is hand made.

The Madrid Agency Forum demonstrated in a very safe and healthy manner that the city is a safe and exciting destination for professional meetings and one with a clear emphasis on sustainability. Most of the activities were within walking distance, which made for healthy interactivity, as well as for a positive impact on the environment.  

The practice of the trip dovetailed well with the strategy of Madrid for focusing planners’ minds on measures to reduce the negative impacts of events.

The Madrid City Council was a key supporter of the Madrid Agency Forum and the stakeholders hope it can become an annual event. The event surely demonstrated the city’s commitment to being at the forefront of the MICE tourism market together with the MAF lead organiser, the Madrid Convention Bureau (MCB).

The (secret) agents from Italy, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, and the UK were all impressed with the messages coming out of Madrid, a city so long living in Barcelona’s international MICE shadow. 

The city and its MCB deserve great credit for putting in so much work during the pandemic to spark the imagination and create a programme of intrigue and fascination that should inspire many of the agents present to return with their own groups and experience the thrill of the
conference corrida.

Other partners deserving credit for putting on ‘the Missing Spy’ activity were the Spanish Tourism Institute (Tourspain) and the DMCs B Destination Services and In Out Travel&Events, which were in charge of planning the tour, game coordination and the activity’s exclusive app.

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