The 3 March 2006 meeting of AIMRI members in Ghent, Belgium was an excellent event. Held at the Hotel Gravensteen just off the main central square area, but close to the wonderful Bierhus on the canal, the conference included an overflowing group of attendees hearing a variety of subjects.

Main Focus

The main focus was 'Illuminating Research Results,' and the various presentations came at this topic from differing angles. Our kickoff speaker was Nicky Perrott from Illumination Business in London. Nicky touched on the notion of going out of the box by creating sexy, seductive, and, if nothing else, challenging briefs for customers. It does none of us any good to put clients to sleep with briefs. So, think about how you, your writers, and report presenters can bring numbers to life, while creating excitement amongst clients.

Nicky was followed by Tony Hoare of Stormbreak Research & Consultancy in London, who spoke to his study on crimes directed against the gay, lesbian and bi-sexual community in neighborhoods around London. The 'consumers" of study results were police officials and other policy makers and influencers in the public sector. The mere statistics themselves were very attention getting, and in a way depressing, but the passion with which Tony spoke to the data also brought illumination and clarity.

Following Tony No 1 was Tony No 2: Tony Dent of Sample Answers, London. He spoke to how we as researchers can and should help clients reduce risk. Market research has enormous scope and impact. Sometimes the ball is in our court to make sure customers don't make mistakes.

After a delightful lunch, we returned to the conference for three more presentations, lead off by Steve Page from Rosslyn Research in London, showing us a new software tool they are creating to help customers manipulate data. The Simple Data Manipulation Tool (SDMT) is aimed at making it easier for business users to explore and understand data. Steve asked all attendees to give him feedback during our time together. I'm sure he would welcome continuing feedback as time goes by.

Getting people to write about themselves

Our last two speakers included Louise Southcott of Link Consumer Strategies in London and Karl van der Spiegel from Dedicated Research in Brussels. Louise described an innovative research approach revolving around the benefit of getting people to write about themselves. People describing their lives, thoughts, and feelings through vivid color and pictures can add significant understanding to a research project, even through an online data collection methodology. Karl offered an in-depth description of MR in Belgium.

After the Open Council meeting and a pre-dinner break, we headed to the canal for a 90-minute tour of the central Ghent area, complete with a thorough description of the sights from the boat's captain. Once off the boat, we all enjoyed an outstanding seafood dinner with great wines. Reports indicate that some of the group retired after dinner, a large contingent gathered at the Bierhus, and still others found themselves returning at first light. For those returning at the crack of dawn, it was not a pretty sight in the breakfast room, and no other details will be provided. 

Theresa Cabak

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