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Interview with Mariska Kesteloo

by | Nov 29, 2019 | Interviews,

Mariska Kesteloo

Mariska Kesteloo

Founder at Word of MICE

Key Topics:Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions
Location:Ghent, Belgium

Entrepreneur, public speaker and Past-President of Meetings Professional International in Belgium. With more than 15 years working experience in tourism and the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Events) sector, she’s an authority in the industry. Passionated about influencer marketing Mariska founded her company Word of MICE in 2017. Her company connects the MICE industry with the right social media influencer, to tell the story of the suppliers in an authentic, creative and fun way within the right target audience. She is convinced of the impact and potential of B2B influencer marketing and her mission is to create a global active community of influencers and ambassadors. She is a visionair, forward thinking entrepreneur and loves new challenges.

How did you get to become an expert in your key topics?

To be honest, through frustration. I worked in the meetings & events industry for a few years and was disappointed after I attended a fair or exhibition to gain information and inspiration for my next upcoming event. The way ‘suppliers’, hotels, venues, cities were promoting themselves, I found it old-fashioned, not inspiring or showing the real potential. Strange, our industry is one of the biggest in the world and we don’t tell our story to attract the right target audience. For years, many suppliers asked me for advice, but then I was not able to give them the right support. I noticed the challenges in our industry and connected the dots by starting with B2B influencer marketing. I got really fascinated by this topic and I discover everyday more and more options and possibilities, which is fantastic. I love my job!

What topic areas are you most passionate about?

I focus only on the meetings & events industry because I have worked in this industry, I know the pain points, the challenges. But moreover, the potential is huge. Of course I’m open for other industries, but for the next few years I’ll stay within my niche, which is already a huge market. I’m most passionate about : the cultural differences, working internationally, making the bridge between the challenges of the clients, and the expertise, knowledge and creativity of the influencers.

Which influencers influence you within those key topics?

Despite the fact that I work with influencers, we tend to prefer to use the word ‘(marketing) content creators. Of course I follow a lot of people, organisations and business owners within the meetings & events industry, like Amanda Thurlow, Irina Graf, Sabrina Meyers, Frank Wächter and many others. Also magazines, tradeshows and international organisations like Meeting Professionals International.

Outside of your key topics who else influences you?

It’s important to follow people outside your industry, to learn, to receive inspiration and to keep on top of the trends. People like Rachel Miller, Tim Williams, Keith Jenkins, international speakers and of course entrepreneurs.

What are your passions outside of work?

I like to go running to clear my mind, and do yoga. And I like to read different books, not only management books also thrillers. Movies, I can really enjoy a good movie. Besides I have passion for chocolate!

How would you describe your offline influence?

First of all I like to write and I get really passionate to speak on stage and to share my story. For me, it’s part of my daily business, and this is something I can strongly recommend to all other business owners. Networking is a must and I always attend the most important trade shows and events in our industry. Besides I’m a member of the international association Meeting Professionals International, and a formed board member where I build up my network in the industry.

If a brand wanted to work with you, what offline / online activities would you be most interested in?

First of all I would not focus on the activities itself, but I would be really pleased if my clients have a good detailed strategy (often this is a huge challenge!) and the client would say; we would need more whitepapers because after our research we discovered that this is one of the missing links. Of course we share our advice and experience, but it would be great if the client also understands what he/she really needs. If that’s the case, there’s a much better understanding and a good basis for a potential collaboration. It’s not about the tool, it’s about what your target audience reads, interests, likes etc.

Which non-paid activities would you be keen to take part in if the opportunity raised your profile or delivered value to your audience?

I would be keen to provide a quote for a blog or news article. Speak at or attend an event. Participating in a podcast, webinar or an online chat. I would also love to do a Ted Talk 🙂 because I love to speak on stage. But I am always open to contribute as long as there is a win-win collaboration in the end.

What’s your best source of information for getting ahead of a story?

I’m fortunate to be a lot of hours online and you spot the trends and developments. I don’t use one specific source, despite that LinkedIn is my favourite channel. Keep up to date with the latest news, what’s happening in the world. This is for our industry very important as we are influenced by many factors, such as climate, politics, strikes and more.

What brands have you worked with?

We have worked with hotel chains, convention bureau’s, associations and destinations all from the meetings & events industry.

What would be the best way for a brand to contact you?

People can also always can get in touch with me through my accounts on Twitter and LinkedIn.