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Paris Breakfast Club meets the MICE hipsters of Hoxton

France is recovering strongly from recent terrorist attacks and, in this month of the Tour de France, euphoria is building over an Olympic Games bid for 2024. Against this background leading French MICE industry representatives came to Hipsterville, London, 6 July to promote their capital for events.

The Hoxton hotel, Shoreditch was the venue for a French team of three panellists, put together by Atout France and MICEBlog, to meet with UK corporate planners and eventprofs over breakfast.

Arnaud Santin, UK development manager for sports specialist agency ASO, shared some of the glamour of putting together corporate packages for some major events, including the Tour de France, Ryder Cup and the Paris-Dakkar Rally.

Clement Laloux, marketing director at Paris Tourism and Convention Bureau told the audience that, after a period of security challenges, the French capital was recording good numbers of visitors and optimistic about the future.

The DMC side of the business was represented by Xavier Bordedebat, senior vice-president of Lafayette Travel, who emphasised that his agency had good experience of working with US clients on the security issue. And he reassured the audience, who had sent many questions via slido on the topic, that his DMC followed strict procedures and plans to cater for any event. In particular he said that all delegates were carefully checked onto coaches and accounted for.

“It is all about educating suppliers,” he added and alluded to the difference between perceptions and reality. “France was for long perceived to be expensive, then ‘dangerous’, now it is back to expensive!” he said.

Laloux admitted extra security measures did not come without extra costs, but noted that standards had risen to a new high.

Laloux added that Paris was a capital for experiences, too, stressing the strong suits of food, drink and culture, allied to a new approach of finding “quirky” options and a new trends of ‘bistronomy’ – combining the best of French cuisine, but at a reasonable price.

Bordedebat said there was a new emphasis on providing what Millennial delegates now demand. “You have to deliver something memorable and something that enables them to help and leave something behind in the destination – some kind of legacy,” he said.

The audience questioned the panellists on a range of topics, ranging from the effects of Brexit and terror, to the value of the pound and opportunities outside of Paris.

The potential of a boost to the capital from an Olympic bid was discussed, with panellists emphasising that 80% of the infrastructure and hotels were in place already.

“If we get the Olympics in 2024, then it will be a major boost for Paris’s infrastructure, as projects that otherwise would come on stream in the 2030s would be accelerated,” noted Laloux.