Amsterdam for big meetings: site inspection in the capital part 2

Here we are again, back in Amsterdam. During my last site inspection to the Dutch capital I focused on facilities for small meetings. But Amsterdam has also much to offer for  mid-sized meetings (up to 500 particiants) and big meetings (up to 2500 participants).

Blog Holland Amsterdam Inspection

International Meeting Point

Big, international corporates will feel very comfortable with the cosmopolitan flair of Amsterdam. The city has attracted workforce from 180 different countries , creating a fountain of inspiration by mixing their various cultures, visions and ideas. As a consequence, the city has set a European benchmark to inclusion and integration. More than 80 percent of the locals speak English and over 40 percent have a university degree or higher professional education. The capital remains an attractive destination for multinational corporates. In the last report of the European Cities Monitor, Amsterdam scored rank 4 in the list of top business cities and is narrowing the gap to London, Paris and Frankfurt.

Blog Holland Amsterdam Science Park

Technological Hotspots

Companies in IT and technology will feel right at home in the Dutch capital. The Amsterdam region is home to the worlds largest, most stable digital exchange platform, which attracts ICT companies from across the globe. Science Park Amsterdam hosts more than 80 ICT and biotechnology companies, while the BioMed sector includes over 60 Life Science companies. The intensive research and development in the ICT and Life Science cluster is strongly linked to business and industry.

Transport options for everyone

International visitors can travel to Amsterdam by plane or train. Check my previous blogpost to learn more about accessibility. But how do your get your numerous participants safely from the airport to your venue? Four weeks ago, exhibition centre Amsterdam RAI hosted the congress of the European Society of Cardiology, which was visited by 30,000 participants. Next to shuttle busses running from and to Schiphol Airport, the organization hired all rental bicycles in Amsterdam to offer a green and healthy transport alternative.


Venues for big meetings

Amsterdam as many great venues for mid-sized and big meetings. Here are my personal recommendations:

Amsterdam ArenA
Amsterdam Marriott Hotel
Beurs van Berlage
Mövenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Centre
Park Plaza Amsterdam Airport
NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky
Amsterdam RAI
Novotel Amsterdam City

130929 Blog Holland Amsterdam ArenA

After your meeting

For those participants who are not too tired, Amsterdam has more than enough entertainment opportunities. Fans of science and technology can take a voyage of discovery in Science Center NEMO, a scientific playground for young and old. From NEMO, it is just a short walk to the National Maritime Museum which offers a glimpse on 500 years of maritime history. Night owls can check the varied live music programme of the Melkweg or the special club nights of Paradiso.

Lazy folks can take a seat at one of the various cafes at the Nieuwmarkt or, during summer time, relax at the Vondelpark.


Hidden Secrets

If you want to avoid the crowded touristic spaces, I have some special tips for you. You can find more hidden gems of Amsterdam on my page of the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions.

Fort Island IJmuiden, an ancient fortress, which is part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam and only accessible by boat

Samhoud Places, a special restaurant with  extraordinary dishes you have never tasted before

visit the Nine Streets,  a shopper’s paradise full of jewellers, art galleries, boutiques and vintage stores

More information?

For more questions about meeting activities in and around Amsterdam you can contact my friends from Amsterdam Tourism & Convention Board.

Or do you want help with the organization of your meeting? I know many DMCs  that are situated in Amsterdam like Partners & Sam!, Delta AmsterdamITBholland, KUONI Destination Management Benelux, Ovation Holland and Holland Destination Marketing.

When would you hire a DMC?


With the global business world becoming increasingly accessible, meeting planners often need to work outside their familiar surroundings. Many meetings are transferred to other cities, other countries or other continents. Since it can become difficult to organize your meeting from a distance, you might need a contact person who has the local knowledge.

This is where Destination Management Companies (DMCs) come in. They can organize everything for your, from hotel, venue, catering, transportation and transfers. However, they will also consume a part of your budget.

Have you ever worked with DMCs? What was your experience? Could you have done it without them? And how can you find a good DMC?

In case you are looking for a DMC in Holland, I recommend:

Delta Amsterdam
Holland Destination Management
KUONI Destination Management Benelux
Ovation Holland
Partners & Sam!

Go ahead and take a break: 5 tips to relax at work

It is a warm and sunny afternoon in Amsterdam, maybe one of the last this year. I’m sitting at city beach Strandzuid with a glass of fresh orange juice. Due to the many site inspections I was quite busy, so I decided that it would be wise to take a day off. But my workaholic self bars me from relaxing. I feel naughty, even guilty because I’m not sitting at my desk like everybody else.

eco hangmat en hangstoelen 0051

Does this sound familiar to you? Most of us are too busy too enjoy free time. We hurry from deadline to deadline and work extra hours just to end up with more work than before. Most of us feel so stressed and exhausted that we beg for break. But there is always another item on our task list we have to finish before.

However, we all would benefit from regular breaks. Not only, that we need the time to relax, a day off can also help us to work more efficiently. According to neuroscience research, after focusing intensively on a project, our brain needs to fully disengage and relax. The time, when we are apparently doing nothing is an important period of recovery to our brain. When we calm down it starts to sort things out, reorganize, discard and store information and thoughts.

If we postpone our breaks too long, our physical and mental performances will decline. If you are racing around all day, ticking things off lists, checking your mail, making phone calls and hurry to appointment you are not going to have any creative ideas. On the other hand, we all know the phenomenon of waking up after a night of good sleep, and the solution for the biggest problems come to our minds.

Thus, a day off from time to time keeps your mind fresh and your performance at top levels. Of course, it is not always necessary to take a whole day off. Try to integrate small breaks into your regular working day. Here are some tips.

  1. Instead of eating your sandwich at your desk, take a short walk, find a nice place to sit and enjoy your surroundings while you have your lunch.
  2. Put on your favourite music while checking your email
  3. Your office has the most disgusting coffee in the city? Walk to the coffee shop around the corner to get your favourite flavour.
  4. Call your partner or best friend for a short chat. Say something nice.
  5. Free your feet and take off your shoes under the desk.

What is your tip to relax at work? How do you stay energized during long projects. Please share your tip with me.

Meetings in Rotterdam: inspecting the Gateway to Europe

Rotterdam is internationally renowned as one of the biggest ports in the world and therefore also called the Gateway to Europe. I made a site inspection in Rotterdam to check out the meeting facilities for you.

Rotterdam has been Holland’s centre of trade during the colonial era and still remains an important economic engine for our country. The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe and belongs to the top 5 of the world. The port area is heavily industrialized with petrochemical refineries, storage tanks and container terminals. Companies in logistics, shipping and international retail will be inspired by the rich trading history of Rotterdam.


Even though the city is already 650 years old, it has a young cosmopolitan allure. When large parts of Rotterdam’s city centre where destroyed after World War II, it was decided to rebuild it with a new, modern face rather than restoring the original buildings. The result were wide roads and high, futuristic buildings that resemble the innovative spirit in Rotterdam. Architects are fascinated by constructions like the Cubus Houses, Erasmus Bridge or the New Orleans Tower, which is the highest building in Holland.

Accessible by air and water

Rotterdam and The Hague share the second airport of Holland. It is less busy than Amsterdam Airport Schiphol with quicker check-in’s and comfortable departure times to 34 destinations. Between Rotterdam and London City Airport alone there are eight daily flights. From the airport it is a 15-minute ride by cab or train to the city centre. Guests from Belgium and France have a great connection with Hispeed and Thalys trains.

Another option is to travel on the water.  There are easy ferry connections to the UK. P&O North Sea ferries, for instance, can take you from Hull to Europoort Rotterdam, where you have direct bus transfers to you end destination.

Blog Holland Rotterdam Port


Rotterdam bursts from stylish and elegant venues. Here are some recommendations by Rotterdam Convention Bureau.

SS Rotterdam
Hulstkamp Building
De Doelen
Beurs World Trade Center
Ahoy Rotterdam
Villapark Citta Romana
NH Atlanta Rotterdam
Het Heerenhuys
Luxor Theater Rotterdam
De Verdieping

Hidden Secrets

Venue: located in the heart of the port area, the Euromast Tower offers a spectacular view of the ocean and the harbour.

Restaurant: Izkaya, an Asian restaurant with interactive tables. Order from the digital menu and check the virtual agenda while you wait for your food.

Activity: Kinderdijk Windmills, a famous UNESCO World Heritage Site

Blog Holland Rotterdam Cubus

After your meeting

I already mentioned the rich architecture of Rotterdam. But not only architects will be enchanted by Rotterdam’s impressive buildings made by many old and new designers. You can combine your meeting with a visit to the Netherlands Architecture Institute. More adventurous meeting delegates will find a great challenge in Rotterdam’s landmark, the Euromast. After enjoying the spectacular view, try abseiling down.

After a long day, it is time to take a break with a glass of fine wine. Club Rosso is a cosy wine and champagne bar with a warm ambience and fireplaces. Ready to hit the dance floor? Relive the 70s, 80s and 90s at Get Back Club, a popular location for people in their mid-twenties and above.

More information?

For all questions about meetings and activities in Rotterdam you can contact my friends from Rotterdam Convention Bureau.

Who is your green meetings pioneer?

Column Holland Green Meetings

Green meetings and events are on the move. Thanks to the Dutch chapter of the Green Meetings Industry Council (GMIC) I get endless tips and advices for more sustainable meetings. This is great, because I truly believe that the future of our industry is green and I’m not alone. Many hotels, restaurants and caterers are Green Key- or Green Globe-certified and still looking for more ways to be eco-friendly.

As every trend, green meetings need a pioneer, a role model who shows us how to do it. For the event industry these are ID&T (Welcome to the Future Festival) and Whole Earth Festival in Davis, California. Do we have such a pioneer in the corporate meetings sector? Can you name a meeting planner you would suggest as a role model for green meetings? Why did they impress you and what can we learn from them? I would love to hear your opinion on that topic.

How to save time with a to don’t list

After abandoning the to do list we call out the beginning of to don’t lists. Exactly, we are going to make a list of task and ideas that we won’t bother ourselves with anymore. Why should we do this?

Everybody is extremely busy these days. Especially meeting planners often complain how they try to keep their heads above the water, hurrying from one appointment to the next. As Meredith Fineman explains in a very inspiring article, many of us wear ‘busy’ as a badge of honour: it makes us look important, demanded and successful. But the reality is that we miss precious quality time, because we are not working efficiently, pick up work from others or spend too much time on unnecessary tasks.

Fineman’s suggestion is to work smart instead of (just) hard by managing our time more efficiently. The first crucial step is to detect and delete dispensable tasks from our schedules. By putting such tasks on a to don’t list, we remind ourselves to spend no time on them anymore. This means, we won’t work on them, we won’t talk bout them, we won’t even think about them. Here is how you make a to don’t list.

1. Check your daily schedule

Write down all the activities you perform each day. Then, go through the list and answer the following questions for each activity:

  • does it make me happy?
  • is it essential and/or helpful to my career?
  • does it have a good cost/benefit ratio?

2. Scrap and delete

If you can’t answer at least two of these questions with yes, delete the task from your schedule and put it on your to don’t list.

3. Stop doing it

From now on, you won’t spend a second on tasks on your to don’t list. You should not even think about them.

It might hurt you to abandon some tasks. I used to write a short column for a small local newspaper published by friends of mine. The writing cost me precious hours and I was not paid for my work. Deleting this task felt like deserting my friends. Finally, they were quite fine with it and I have more time for myself. You will see that you won’t miss the extra workload.

Now it’s your turn

Do you check your speaker’s slides before his presentation? Do you clean each item in the meeting room twice? Do you take over tasks from the caterer, the waitress or the CEO? Which tasks would you put on your to don’t list? I’d love to hear your story.