The "Vikingos" travel to ESOMAR LATAM

ESOMAR National Representatives from Norway and Denmark give a personal account of their journey to Bogotà for the ESOMAR LATAM 2024 Conference

6 min read
6 min read

Dear reader of Research World, I will get back to the title a bit later in my letter, but first, let us start with the beginning.

Early Thursday morning at the beginning of April, Jesper Platz (MD of Norstat Denmark and ESOMAR national representative for Denmark) and I, Pål (pronounced Paul) Listuen (Regional Director South- Norstatgroup and ESOMAR National Representative for Norway), started our very long trip from Scandinavia toward Bogotà. Twenty-one hours later, we arrived at the beautiful Hilton hotel after a short transfer from the airport booked in advance. We were a bit exhausted and jet lagged, but we had lots of energy to explore this exotic country from our point of view. Remember that all our opinions of Colombia have been from the news and TV/movies. You can perhaps say that our opinions were biased based on this, but luckily, there is much “fake news” out there, and TV/Movies are rarely based on the truth.

Bogotà is the Capital of Columbia, with nearly 8 million people (2/3 of Norway/Denmark combined), and it is 2500 meters above sea level. My Danish friend had never been up so high before. He did not know that the sun bites a bit more at that height, made worse because we were also close to the equator. Next time, he will wear sun lotion before heading outside. We started our exploration of Bogatà with a bike sightseeing tour; I do recommend this type of sightseeing when you are visiting a new city for the first time. You can get close to the streets, encounter many different photo options, and travel quite far by bike. (Remember to wear sun lotion and drink a lot of water.)

We spent the rest of the day on a rooftop at a classic steakhouse. The food and the view were incredible, and the service level was exceptional. I must admit that our Spanish language skills are not very good. I can order a cerveza and say gracias, but it ends there. Luckily, Scandinavian sign language also works quite well here in Columbia. Saturday went on with more sightseeing and exploring different rooftops; we had to be fresh and rested for the next day when ESOMAR had invited all the representatives for a meeting.

Sunday morning at 0930, we met many happy and warm people who greeted us and welcomed us to this meeting. We understood from Joaquim (ESOMAR's Director General) that they preferred to hold the meeting in Spanish, so our mission was to meet and greet and share how we do events in our countries. Now, dear reader, comes the first Vikingos expression. Joaquim opened up the meeting and welcomed us all; then he introduced us as the Vikingos who came all the way to Bogotà. For us, it was an honour to be mentioned by that name. We are the ancestors of the Vikings! After the introduction, Jesper told me what he is doing for ESOMAR in Denmark, and I talked about what we do in Norway with our local association. You should set it in your calendar if you have not been to the Danish day. It is really a great day for our industry. When we were done, we left the meeting, and they continued in their own language.

Later on Sunday was the welcome reception, and we were introduced to many people. We felt we were part of a community despite our questionable Spanish skills. I will also say it helps to be 193 cm as well. It is not easy to miss the tall guy. The reception lasted until 21 ish, and it was time for a good night’s sleep before the conference started early Monday morning.

As usual, the opening started with a bang. ESOMAR is good at making grand openings at conferences. I like openings that end with dance and music. Another good thing about this conference is that there were presentations in English, and we had excellent translations from Spanish to English for the Spanish sessions. This was weird at first since the translations were always five seconds later than the actual speech, meaning that we did not get some of the jokes as punctually as others. But the translators were excellent, and we managed to listen the whole day without any issues. The buffet for lunch at the hotel was good, with many different dishes. Well done!

This conference had only drinks on Monday, so there was no special program in the afternoon; luckily, we were invited to a WhatsApp group named ESOMAR LATAM AFTERPARTY, and some of the people there organized a venue for us. There were around 80-90 people that evening for dinner, drinks and dancing. When Jesper and I entered the venue, all the people were cheering and shouting, "VIKINGOS, VIKINGOS." I have never felt more at home and welcome. Then we could not do anything else but just join the party! Our European hips may need a bit more oil to loosen up for LATAM music, but overall, I was happy with my performance on the dance floor. As usual, ESOMAR people know how to party, even in Bogotà. A bit tipsy and sweaty we managed to book an Uber back to the hotel after midnight. We had to be fresh for the next day.

Tuesday, the conference continued, and again, everything was running smoothly with many good presenters. The program committee did a fabulous job of organizing everything. Tuesday ended with farewell drinks and hugs/handshakes to almost all the wonderful people attending. I highly recommend visiting other conferences outside your core markets. You will be amazed by the crowd, the openness, and the hospitality. Use your membership and book flights/hotel early for a good rate. Then, just blend in with the crowds.

I can say that I have gained both connections and friends for life. I will be back!

Jesper & Pål

PS: Thank you Norstat for allowing us to travel, thank you ESOMAR and thank you to our families for keeping the house/dog/kids together while we are on the other side of the world.

Jesper Platz
Project Director at Norstat Group