Insights from the Founder of Word of MICE - Q&A with Mariska Kesteloo

Himani Sheth
May 30, 2019

Mariska Kesteloo is a founder of the Word of MICE which she established in the year of 2017. Previously, she used to work as a freelancer in the MICE industry and came up with the ideas of Word of MICE. Mariska Kesteloo is a renowned public speaker, President of MPI in Belgium. MPI has a global community of 60,000 meeting and event professionals including more than 17,000 engaged members worldwide.

Founder, President, and public speaker; with more than 15 years of working experience in tourism and the MICE sector, she’s an authority in the industry. Her company connects the MICE industry with the right social media influencer, to tell the story of the suppliers in an authentic and fun way within the right target audience.

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Mariska has gained a pool of knowledge on influencer marketing and has also previously explained it in a featured interview.

We also got a chance to interview the successful event tech lady or as she is known Women of MICE. Here are the questions we got an opportunity to ask her:

1. You’ve recently made a major change in your life moving to America. How has this affected you professionally?
Indeed, last summer I moved to the US together with my husband. This had a huge impact on my life, first of all on a personal level and of course also on a professional level. You live in another country in a different culture and doing business in the US is a challenge. To be honest, I misunderstood cultural differences.

I thought it was easier to do business, but the opposite is true. The most important is that I have learned a lot. My focus is now on Europe. Despite the fact that my adventure only lasted 4 months, I never regret that I took the opportunity that came on my path. It makes you stronger, more confident and knowledge and experience is so valuable.

2. What are your takeaways from being the president at MPI Belgium?
I can recommend anyone to get involved in an association, whatever the level of commitment might be. You are working with people from different backgrounds and sometimes even with different expectations.

As the President of the chapter, the biggest challenge is: To have a committed board and to keep all your board members involved and connected, as a volunteer, besides their personal and professional life. Hereby 3 takeaways :

· Hire people because of their motivation and passion; not because they are looking for a reference on their CV, or by their experience in the field.

· Ask volunteers what would they like to do, where can they add value to your association and the board, and don’t try to put potential board members on ‘open positions’. You will notice, volunteers are more committed and connected and will last longer in the board.

· Build up and maintain a personal relation with your board members; this is crucial because their position and role is affected by many factors, their personal and professional life. It’s important to build up that personal relationship to keep your volunteers committed and connected and if things might change in their life, you can adapt your planning, or change the tasks or workload of that person.
Last but not least, your network will increase and to work with volunteers is very enriching.

3. Please do shed some light on your work with Word of MICE.
We connect suppliers from the MICE industry with the right influencer to spread the message within the right target audience about your service and/or product. We align the right influencer with his/her knowledge and experience with the strategic plan of our client to create a successful campaign. We only create B2B influencer campaigns in the MICE industry.
I started my company because of frustrations. I noticed and discovered that when I was an event planner I didn’t receive the information that I was looking for. At the same time, I saw suppliers struggling to get in touch with their desired target audience.
We believe that one little mouse can create an impact, and if we have several ‘mouses’ (MICE) they can create a huge impact within your desired target audience. Word of MICE is born with our slogan: we spread the word.

4. Your current focus is on influencer marketing. What role does influencer marketing play in the events industry?
At the moment B2B influencer marketing is still at the developing phase. I call myself sometimes a pioneer, because if you are selling something ‘new’ not everyone will immediately join you, it takes time. It’s also a change of mindset, we ask suppliers to invest their money in a different way, it requires patience, awareness and also visibility.

Influencer marketing, especially in our industry, has so many options and possibilities, just it’s unknown and undiscovered at the moment. We believe it will change, we already noticed a growth and more recognition from suppliers in the meetings & events industry.

5. What tips would you give to event professionals just starting out with influencer marketing?
What we have noticed is that influencer marketing is not seen as a part of their strategic plan, and also planned as a short-term option. B2B influencer marketing has a different approach and if you’re planning to set-up a campaign plan at least 2/3 months preparation time.

We advise creating an influencer campaign for at least 6 months or longer. Besides, it’s a long process and don’t underestimate the time and effort to prepare and execute a successful campaign.

Start with thorough research; what we called a Quickscan where all the information about your company, your goals, your audience and of course your marketing activities become visible.

Of course, the influencer(s) is important but not as important as the research upfront because with the result of the Quickscan it’s easy to find the right person who will be aligned with your values and goals. And your desired outcome will become visible.

If you don’t have the knowledge and experience in house; ask a professional agency for support.

6. What according to you is the most effective social media channel in terms of event marketing?
There is no ‘most effective’ social media channel; it all depends what’s your strategy, where’s your current audience, and to whom would you like to reach out to? If you have that information, then you know which channel is using the audience that you want to reach. Some channels are more popular than others, but always keep in mind where’s your desired audience.

7. Any suggestions that you would like to share with our readers?
B2B influencer marketing is a very powerful tool and really underestimated. Which is really sad because it has so many options and possibilities. We live in a time where we have an overload of information and to stand out from the crowd or the market is a huge challenge. When you’re working on your budget for the upcoming year, please consider influencer marketing as an option.

And become part of an association, it’s a great way to get in touch with different people from the industry, exchange experiences, learn and increase your network.

Follow Word of MICE and stay tuned with event industry news and updates!

Stay tuned with us on our blog to read about some great features ahead! You can connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

To know more about us, visit our website or request a demo to learn about our products!

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Himani Sheth

Hemani Sheth is a Mass Communication major and an event enthusiast. She is currently associated with Hubilo, a cloud based event management platform that aims to help event professionals create exceptional events. Hemani strives to create resourceful guides that pave way for insightful discussion built around various facets of the event industry. She has a keen interest in event technology and how multiple innovations in the field can help transform the way events are created, marketed and executed. Hemani is also a content marketer and a key contributor to Hubilo Blog. An avid reader, traveler and a movie buff, she is open to conversations on any topic under the sun! Go ahead, say hello to her on twitter @HimaniSheth

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