We left London in 22 degree heat and arrived in Berlin in similar temperatures, a contrast from the heat of India a month earlier but extremely pleasant for November. Unfortunately our timing was a little off, another week would have enabled us to observe the 25 year celebrations of the Wall coming down but regretfully we weren’t there to sightsee although we did dash to the Wall and Checkpoint Charlie before the seminars began. The exercise was good for us before we sat at a table for 2 solid days. Traffic was such a contrast to Mumbai, total order with well- disciplined Germans waiting at empty junctions for the “green man” who has a hat on in Berlin.
NDA was in Berlin to find international agents who will promote our courses in their home countries. Although we currently have students in more than 75 countries, it would be good to develop larger communities in these countries and spread the NDA message. The event, run by ICEF, was organised with the precision and detail that you would expect from a German company but in effect it was speed dating for agents and educators, or at least I assume it’s like speed dating, never having tried it myself. The educators sat in an enormous ballroom and at 30 minute intervals, from 8am to 7pm, agents came to our desk. Given that I had lost my voice the previous week I was grateful it lasted the 2.5 intensive days.
Once we registered for the event, we had access to all the profiles of the agents and a sophisticated booking system that automatically moved appointments round in order to maximise our schedule. The system went live a couple of months ago and the result was that my ‘dance card’ was full by the start of the conference. Given the interest, we cancelled all our breaks and lunch times to fit in extra appointments which was probably just as well, given the tempting snacks available all day and a large lunch on offer, otherwise there may have been excess baggage on the way back!
We contacted all the agents prior to the event to be completely sure that they were aware we offered online learning and we were delighted with the interest and response. We met agents from Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Bulgaria and Turkey and from more far flung countries such as India, Sri Lanka and Columbia. Many of them hadn’t promoted online courses before but were keen to try.
This was our second trip to an ICEF event, the first being in Dubai in February. We had intended to repeat the event in Bangkok in May but the timing coincided with marshal law being imposed and so we had to cancel at the last minute. Berlin proved to be a much larger event with over 2000 people and there appeared to be significantly more interest in online learning. The revolution that started in the United States definitely seems to be moving eastwards and more people appear to be prepared to try it out. A number of agents were particularly interested in interior design and we were shown pictures of their own efforts in that direction. We now have the follow up but we very much hope that our new agents will increase the size of our international community.