Vlerick Colloquium

Last week, I attended the 22nd Vlerick Alumni Colloquium, entitled “Kiss Me”, in de Handelsbeurs in Ghent. The theme of the colloquium was ‘The Kingdom of Customer Experience’.
It was a fascinating day, filled with inspiring presentations, and of course good food, drinks and a couple of special surprises which made it truly an experience. All of the keynote speakers had a unique and interesting story to tell, but these were my favorites:
The day started with a presentation from Bernd Schmitt, Professor of International Business at Columbia Business School in New York, who presented a theoretical framework on experiential marketing. Using several examples from well-known companies and from his own market research, he showed the audience how to create an experience platform, design a brand experience, structure the customer interface and align the internal experience.
Another inspiring presentation was given by Tom Grymonprez, Commercial Director of STUDIO 100. He talked about the value of meaningful stories, about retelling stories over and over again, and about Studio 100’s 24/7 strategy. In the end, he moved the whole audience by showing a preview of a 3D remake of a classic cartoon that we all know and love, because it takes us back to our own childhood… If you want to know which cartoon I am talking about, you’ll have to wait a bit, because we won’t see it on TV until 2011! 😉
After lunch, Michel Smit, the founder of Cultural Development, presented the story of the first sustainable dance club – Club Watt – in Rotterdam. Not only is the concept behind this club truly inspiring, but I also really liked their ideas on how to make a visit to this club a very unique experience. The Sustainable Dance Floor is the first dance floor that captures the energy of dancing. The energy produced by movement is converted into electricity that is used to make the dance floor react to the dancer in an interactive way and to power the music and lighting of the club. A big battery is projected on the wall, allowing the clubbers to really see the amount of energy they are producing. This way, the dancers are literally “dancing for a better future”.
The day ended with a presentation from Jean-Paul Teyssen, the CEO of Carglass. As we all know, Carglass is a true success story when it comes to customer experience. Jean-Paul Teyssen explained the audience how they manage to achieve customer delight, and as a market researcher, it was of course very interesting for me to hear how they measure the experience on all levels, and use those results to improve continuously.

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