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Today we welcome Helena Herberer from Cologne to our blog. As the general secretary of the CologneMUN she is, among others, also responsible for the event planning and that’s what it’s all about today. As a guest at the HAMMUN she got to know about LineUpr last year and was immediately convinced by the idea of an event app for MUN conferences.
She will explain to us how they used LineUpr at the CologneMUN, the effort behind such an event and which unusual letters can be obtained from the tax office because of the registration of a charitable association. Have fun while reading. ?
LineUpr: Hello Helena. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Please introduce yourself.
Helena: Hello, gladly! I am the Secretary General of the CologneMUN Conference. I have been working for the Cologne MUN Society since 2013, co-founded the university group at the University of Cologne and the association and was its first president. After I left this post, it was my heartfelt concern to host the first CologneMUN.
Currently, I’m completing my Masters in Political Science. Only the master thesis is missing. Also, I work for medica mondiale, a women’s rights organization here in Cologne, which works for women and girls in war and crisis areas. Human rights are fundamental to me and I find it hard to bear the regression we are making in Germany and around the world. That’s why I find Model United Nations important. At the conferences, students who are against this can network. I am very happy that with the conference we can bring a room to the University of Cologne where we debate these topics.
LineUpr: Respect, you are really committed. How much time and work do you spend on average on the planning of the CologneMUN?
Helena: I started planning at the beginning of 2017 and initially put the team together. Finally, 15 students from Cologne and Paderborn came together with very different backgrounds and spent over a year of their time planning the conference. Personally, I’ve invested ten hours a week, on average. Of course, there are times when you have more or less to do. Sometimes you need a break. It was similar for the other team members. One of us, for example, used an entire day every week for it. Anyway, it was demanding for all of us. Most of us still work alongside our studies and are political or otherwise volunteers.
LineUpr: What makes the CologneMUN so unique? How do you differentiate yourself from other MUN events?
Helena: We had some unusual features at our first conference. One of them was our press conference. Some of the students participated as reporters. The reporters sit in the committees and write articles about everything that happened – controversy, disputes, compromises. They were also tasked with checking facts and placing the contents of the debate in the larger context. They held press conferences and asked the participants hard questions. We wanted our reporters to hold the delegates accountable, as a free press should do.
We had a social event every night and, intentionally, got into the Cologne cliché box. We organized a brewery tour and a carnival party. It was nice to show our culture to the international participants and to get to know Cologne even better.
Ultimately, it was our team that made the conference such a beautiful experience. Everyone invested a great deal of time, effort and passion without ever expecting anything in return. We all love each other very much and friends have been formed. You can feel the love.
LineUpr: You have used LineUpr for the first time. What was the decisive argument for you to use an event app?
Helena: I already knew LineUpr from HAMMUN and was thrilled.
There are two main reasons for using an app instead of a printed programme guide. First, it is more contemporary to make the programme digitally available. We could also insert changes at any time. Besides, everyone has their smartphone. Second, we are a green conference. That is, we try to reduce emissions where we can before compensating for the remaining emissions after the conference ends. An app saves paper and is, therefore, more environmentally friendly.
LineUpr: The reduction of emissions is very exemplary. It’s great that this approach is also increasing at classic conferences. How did you use the app before, during and after the CologneMUN?
Helena: Our goal was to use and design the app in such a way that the same information is available on the official website, the social media platforms and the app, making the app the third pillar of conference communication.
We made the app available via the first two communication channels. Participants were also able to download the app using a QR code when they registered on-site. Before the conference, participants in the app were able to help shape the event through surveys. Our programme, as well as a map with the locations of the programme items, were very helpful to the participants before and during the conference. We also shared information about the organizers, promoters and emergency phone numbers here.
Ultimately, the app served primarily for logistical purposes, while the content of the committee’s negotiations was largely distributed through our social media platforms.
LineUpr: How did your visitors react to the app?
Helena: On the last day of the conference we went to all the committees to hear feedback. The app was often referred to very positively. Above all, the participants appreciated that they could personalize the app by marking their appointments. The app was intuitive for everyone and therefore easy to handle.
LineUpr: This great feedback is fantastic. Why should other MUN conferences use an event app?
Helena: I saw how an app can contribute to the smooth running of a conference. We were able to enter content on a short notice, which is not possible with a programme booklet. You have to take your time to get it set up and printed. Unforeseen changes we were able to be communicated quickly. I also liked the Maps feature. This was very helpful, especially for our international participants.
LineUpr: We want to grow daily and offer our customers a better experience, what features do you want for the app and why?
Helena: It would be useful if it were possible to send push notifications. Also, compatibility with social media would be excellent, for example, if you could set up the event’s Facebook feed or connect to a Google account for the map feature.
LineUpr: Thanks for the feedback. We will try to make it possible for you until next year. At the end, would you like to share a crazy story about CologneMUN with us?
Helena: The craziest stories happened during the preparation, I think. The starting of the association, for example, cost a lot of nerves, so everything went awry and the whole process – from writing the charter to registration in the association register – took years.
I will never forget one thing. The end of the Odyssey association founding was already in sight. When we wanted to apply for the charitable status in the last step, our statute was rejected by the tax office. We had specified two purposes of the association, the “promotion of international understanding” and “the promotion of democracy”. We were not allowed to do that, we had to choose a purpose. One should not be too charitable. When we opened the letter, we really did not know if we should laugh or cry. Ultimately, we opted for international understanding. We now promote democracy in our free time.
LineUpr: This is really a crazy story. ? Typical Germany somehow. But it’s great that you have not entirely abandoned the promotion of democracy.
Thank you, Helena, for this refreshing interview. Planning and holding an event is always a little adventure. If you want to know more about ColgneMUN or you maybe even want to attend it, have a look at their homepage or visit their Facebook profile.
We are looking forward to supporting you again next year.