The professional opinion: Philippe Mesnard
“The main challenge in working in the MICE industry is reactivity as the world of events is very dynamic”
In this first interview with MICE professionals, we speak with Philippe Mesnard, CCIB Facility Director, who is in charge of maintaining in perfect conditions all the center facilities in order to guarantee the best service. A passionate of his job, in his opinion the most interesting aspect is the variety of projects, because each event has different requirements; the skills that he considers most appropriate are the ability to take decisions, the coordination between different professionals and a promptness reply to our client’s requirements.
With such a huge flow of people, what should be taken into account in a building like the CCIB? Which are the most “sensitive” aspects: security, evacuation, design, comfort…?
The main point is the responsibility of hosting thousands of people in a enclosed space. It is essential to have a well-defined Self-Protection Plan and that all the teams involved are properly trained, so that they know which their function in the organization chart is and are able to react if required.
Is there any event that, due to its complexity or level of client demand, stands out among the other in the CCIB? For example, regarding network connections. Which is the biggest challenge that you have faced from your department?
In many occasions we must design and implement low voltage electrical installations in order to to supply our clients. We often work in complex installations, delivering different connection formats: Schuko, CEE, Powerlock, connection boxes… As an example, to give an idea of the magnitude of the installations that we usually develop, it is important to mention the event Gartner ITxpo Symposium. We installed for this event more than 300 temporary electrical boxes and 10 km of cable, with a total power intalled of 3,000 Kw.
Which are the 3 strengths that you would highlight from the CCIB?
The first one is certainly the flexibility of our teams, as we have the capability to respond to all our clients requests in very tight timelines and deadlines. The second are our facilities. The versatility of the centre, both from the point of view of its size and the different uses that we can give to the spaces. Finally, the up-to-date to new technologies, investing every year in improving the spaces and their equipment.
Which are the advantages of working in the orbit of a multinational Company such as GL Events?
Working in a company like GL events provides a professional prestige and development opportunities. For example, I greatly value having the opportunity to make multiple technical visits to other buildings in use or under construction, such as the Doha Conference Center (Qatar) or the one in St. Petersburg (Russia) among others. I also find especially interesting the periodic meetings that are organized between the different facility directors of the centers managed by the group, because it is a platform for sharing experiences and a good time to expose and discuss about common issues.
The CCIB is committed to a constant maintenance of its facilities, which is carried out on a regular basis throughout the year and making the most important interventions in the periods when the sales activity is reduced. In this way, the “aging” of the building is avoided. Why this choice is for? Other venues choose to make minimal adjustments and, from time to time, close the building to carry out a comprehensive refurbishment. Which do you think is the best option?
The main aim of the CCIB is the satisfaction and service to our clients in all the areas of their activity, also in the maintenance of the building, so we perform daily interventions that ease the wear and tear due to the intensive use of the facilities. On the other hand, we also aim to provide our clients with continuous improvements, so year after year they can enjoy a permanently updated and improved building. Therefore, it was decided to carry out annual actions in periods of lower activity, instead of postponing these major works to a future comprehensive refurbishment.
Last summer, you carried out several repairs at the CCIB. Could you explain them to us? Which are the next planned interventions?
Repairs and improvements carried out during summer 2016 are:
– Replacement of the curtain wall, the facade of the smoking patio and the glass patio in order to improve the thermal insulation.
– Installation of 6 glass railings in the Auditorium to guarantee the safety of the attendees.
– Replacement of the carpet flooring in the Banquet Hall foyer due to its wear and tear.
– Replacement of the carpet in the Bicolor, VIP, M2 and 111-112 rooms due to its wear and tear.
– Better waterproofing of the Banquet Hall roof.
– Replacement of the industrial oven in the main kitchen.
– Replacement of the marble floor and plaques of the stairs on the M0 floor.
– Replacement of the lighting in the Bicolor Corridor in order to improve the light level, as well as the energy efficiency.
– Replacement of the flooring in the cold stores.
– Replacement of the ceilings and repair of the floors in the main kitchen.
– Replacement of the smoke extractor in the main kitchen.
– Replacement of air conditioning pipes for vertical uprights.
– Replacement of springs and axles of the emergency doors in the Multipurpose Room on Plaça Willy Brandt side.
– Replacement of the movable panels in the Multipurpose Room.
– Air conditioning of the F&B office and the maître office in the bicolor corridor to improve the comfort of these spaces.
– Painted of the waste management area located in the loading bay.
– Painted of the Connection Walkway and the Auditorium Foyer.
– Replacement of the signage in the Auditorium area.
– Repair, sanding and lacquering of the wood of the terrace of the Banquet Hall.
The next actions planned are, among others, the refurbishment of the industrial cold system of the kitchen, the completion of the replacement of the air conditioning pipes, the improvement of the access doors to the rooms, the installation of cables and signaling with led lights on the steps of the access stairs to the Auditorium patio.
How much are the investments made on a recurring (or extraordinary) basis each year in the CCIB? What are they intended for: facilities, architecture, interior design, ordinary repairs…?
In 2015, we invested more than 1,6 million euro and in 2016 we have made improvements amounting more than 1,8 million euro, itemized as follows: architecture (7,2%), security (1,5%), interior design (59,8%), lighting (2,4%), kitchen (6,6%) and air conditioning (22,5%).
How have convention centers changed from your point of view in the last decade? How has it affected maintenance? Which trends do you think are remarkable? Also from a point of view of space design. What changes could you anticipate?
Certainly, the aspects that have progressed the most during the past years have been those related to the environment, as well as those related to the safety of the attendees. As an example, the CCIB Board of Directors has decided that in the course of the year 2017 we will implement the regulation ISO 20.121 of Sustainable Events Management. In addition, we have already implemented Environmental Management systems such as EMAS and ISO 14.001.
Concerning security of the attendees, the CCIB hosts an average of one hundred international events each year, with an attendance of about 450,000 delegates, including heads of state, government authorities, presidents of large companies, artists, Nobel laureates, etc. This fact and, considering the current geopolitical context marked by the terrorist threat, compels us to continuously improving the detection, control and security systems.
In my opinion, in the near future, congress centers should be highly versatile, with spaces designed to accommodate any of the many types of events, from fairs to concerts or conferences and, of course. In addition, any center must be prepared to adapt to the constant technological changes, especially those related to telecommunications and robotics.