Why your business event of 2015 should take place in Utrecht

2015 is going to be the year of Utrecht. With several new venue and site openings last summer, the city is ready for your business meeting and conference. Whether you are looking for small, intimate spaces or a large venue up to 100,000 square metre – Utrecht has just the spot you are looking for.

Netherlands, Utrecht (city). Neude

Mr. Holland_Utrecht_fiets_tour de franceTour de France
But not only meeting professionals know their way to Utrecht. In the summer of 2015 (July 4-7) the Tour de France Le Grand Départ and the first stage will take place at the Dom city.

Expect a lot of cycling fanatics, cosy fairs and experience the true Dutch ‘gezelligheid’.

All about Utrecht…
Since next year is going to be all about Utrecht you have to know where to meet, sleep, relax and eat. Utrecht is located at the very heart of Holland. The city offers a wide variety of meeting venues, hotels and inspirational conference rooms. Built around the Dom Tower and atmospheric canals it will be easy to find a venue with great views of the city’s activities.

TivoliVredenburg 2 Foto Juri Hiensch

TivoliVredenburg – picture by: Juri Hiensch

There’s always something new in Utrecht. For example, in June was the official opening of TivoliVredenburg. Not only a great new place for concerts and theatre, but also host of 5 large meeting spaces. Staying in Utrecht? You might want to consider NH Utrecht. The hotel is located at a walking distance of the most important sites and of the Jaarbeurs Utrecht, the biggest venue of the city. Looking for something smaller? Why not try CitySense, Domus Medica or Grand Hotel Karel V.

Leisure & incentive activities
Utrecht is a great place to spend a day. They have a broad range of museums, shopping areas, restaurants and sights. I can really recommend DOMunder, they offer guided tours through the underground cultural and historical centre full of archaeological treasures of the famous Dom Tower in Utrecht. But don’t forget the Centraal museum with it’s classic and modern pieces or the Dick Bruna House, House of Miffy and it’s maker. Everybody knows Miffy. The creation of the Utrecht illustrator, graphic designer and writer Dick Bruna (1927) is popular from Amsterdam to Tokyo. Picture books about miffy are read in numerous languages ​​around the world and miffy has become a real design icon. In 2015, Miffy celebrates her 60th birthday (20.06 – 20.09). It will be a great party of course! Where else than in Utrecht, her homeport. Will you also come to miffy’s party at Centraal Museum?

Netherlands, Utrecht (city), Oude Gracht

When you are in Utrecht it is almost impossible not to spot the famous canals and terraces. Don’t forget to visit the Dom Tower that is visible from the entire city. Have a look at the Winkel van Sinkel, one of Holland’s first department stores and the architectural highlight: Rietveld-Schröder house (UNESCO world heritage).

More information? Download the destination rapport about Utrecht. Or contact my colleagues at the Utrecht Convention Bureau, they will be happy to help you!

Habits of great networkers

Networking is a skill. A skill that can help you make the most of your network in a positive and constructive way. Over the years I learned by doing and asked about networking in my circles. I’ve selected the best tips for you:

Social network in a course

Elevator pitch
Time is money, so keep it short and effective. I am not saying that the maximum time you should network should be 1 minute, but you have to be ready to present your ideas or tell your brand’s story under a minute.

Networking is all about having the X factor. People tend to remember you better or give you business when you are likeable. Don’t overdo it, don’t try to be someone you’re not. But keep in mind, a smile and polite manners can bring you far!

Keep your promise
When you promise to call. Call! If you refer to something you can look up for them, do that. People like other people they can count on. Even more when they weren’t expecting it!

Follow up
Maybe you got a business card or only someone’s name. Follow up with an email or LinkedIn invite. Make it personal, don’t copy paste your message. Refer to something interesting you talked about and say what you want out of the email or invite: such as keep in contact or grab a cup of coffee.

Make it about them
How can YOU help THEM? This ‘rule’ can help you in business and in daily life. When you make conversations and situations about other people they tell you more, trust you more and are likely to re-connect!

Bring back the fun factor
Networking doesn’t have to be dull. Bring back the fun factor with your sparkling personality in combination with your work ethic. Take a walk or golf together. Networking is way more fun when you do something active.

A day in… Groningen

The city of Groningen is located in the province of Groningen in the Northern part of Holland. It is the sixth biggest city of the country and home to 30,000 of the 50,000 student that study here. Whether you are planning your meeting here or just want to explore the city, spending the day in Groningen gives you a lot of business and leisure options.

Station Groningen

Groningen is the sixth largest city of Holland
Groningen is of origin a hanseatic city
Groningen has the second oldest (1614) University of Holland
Population: 197,823

Getting there
Groningen is easy to reach by car, plane or public transportation. Groningen has a small airport (Groningen Airport Eelde) just 15 kilometres away from the city centre. From Amsterdam Airport Schiphol you can take the train (142 minutes) or go by car (2 hours).

Meeting and business venues 
The city offers a wide variety of meeting venues, hotels and inspirational conference rooms. With it’s characteristic architecture and mellow atmosphere it will be easy to find a venue that suits your business meeting or conference.

Groningen is host to venue spaces up to 2,500 people. They have extensive experience in organising big and small international conventions and can offer a great diversity of landscapes. Compared with the big conference cities in the West, the north is also 30-35% cheaper.

Staying in Groningen? You might want to consider NH Hotel de Ville or Mercure Groningen Martiniplaza. But there are many, many, many more options. How about Asgard Hotel Groningen or Hampshire Hotel Plaza Groningen?

Hidden secrets
How would you like a meeting in a Tipi or farmhouse? There are many more inspirational and special venues in Groningen. On our hidden secret page we collect all of them for you.

After your meeting
Groningen is a great place to spend a day or two. They have a broad range of museums, shopping areas, restaurants and sights.

Groninger museum – Even the building itself is spectacular! Don’t miss this one.
Het Nederlands Stripmuseum Groningen – Home of many Dutch talented cartoonists.
Noorderlijk Scheepvaartmuseum – The history of the North Dutch shipbuilding and shipping from the Middle Ages to the present day comes to life in this museum.

Shopping areas
City centre – The inner city of Groningen is a wonderful place for a shopping spree. You will find many fashion, vintage and shoe shops with something to offer for every budget. 
Grote Markt – From tuesday till saturday you will find flowers, clothing and food at the big market. 

Casual or haute cuisine? City vibe or intimate setting? A view at the lively, characteristic streets or going back to basics? Groningen has it all. Throughout Groningen you can find many restaurants. But these restaurants are very popular:

Houdt van eten – Biological / French / Italian
De Pauw – French / Modern
Eetcafé de Gans – Casual / Private Dining

Groningen in the winter

When you are in Groningen it is almost impossible not to notice the Martinitower. Walk the 323 steps and enjoy the beautiful view from the top of the six story high tower. From here you can enjoy a spectacular view over Groningen and its surroundings with its distinctive farms of the Ommeland.

A day in Groningen.. 
With all these tips I am almost sure you need a few extra days of stay in Groningen. Have fun and let me know your favourite part of the city!

Secrets of the perfect handshake

A handshake is part of making a great first impression. Everybody remembers a bad shaker. For instance your aunt or uncle? Maybe their handshake is too firm, or too loose. Both ways aren’t very pleasurable. Hereby I give you my tips for the perfect handshake:


When do you start the handshake? And are you the one who should initiate it? Usually the person with authority starts the handshake, like your employer or a minister. Wait for them to start. When you are the right person to start a handshake, don’t wait too long. Things can get kind of awkward and it gets less natural to start.

Get out of your chair, stand confident and smile when you offer your hand. Make sure you palms don’t feel sweaty. While you handshake it’s the perfect time to say something nice. For instance: ‘It’s great to meet you Jack.’ When repeating the other person’s name you are more likely te remember them.

Nobody likes the feel of a flabby hand. Make your handshake firm, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want to hurt people. Is the other person a child or a very old lady? Adjust your grip just a little bit.

It should feel natural when to let go. You don’t have to hang on while you talk. The average handshake will last a few seconds.

Things to keep in mind
There are a few other things you should be aware of while you handshake. Is the other person wounded on their right hand? Offer your left hand. When you shake hands, what do you do with the rest of your body? – Get your left hand out of your pocket! The handshake should be done in an up and down motion. Some people tend to rotate the handshake so their hand is on top, this gives the impression of authority. Other people put their left hand on top of the handshake. In this situation, you could pat the side of the upper arm of the other person.

Good luck!

Reduce the carbon footprint of your event

In the past we’ve spoken a lot about green meetings. This topic is not a hype or trend, it’s a new way of event planning. As a business you have to take responsibility. You should be aware how large the carbon footprint is of your company and how you can decrease it. I have some tips for you that are easy to implement.

green leaf

You and your team are travelling to another city or country to attend an event. I understand that you like the freedom of your own car, but it is truly unnecessary to have a few cars riding the same route and parking at an airport or venue. It can save you a lot of money on parking and fuel costs when you carpool with colleagues.

Arrange a interesting tourbus
Organising an event whereby many people have to come from far? Why don’t you arrange a tourbus that transports the attendees all at once. To really make it interesting you can ask one of the speakers to have their talk during the bus ride. This way you don’t lose extra time while travelling.

It sounds so obvious, but we don’t really do it. Recycling. After every congress, event or meeting pens, notebooks, key cords, usb-sticks and branding materials are carelessly thrown away. We should think about the look & feel of our branding materials before we produce them so you can use them for a longer period of time than just one event. Don’t hand out big notebooks, but smaller ones or just a few pieces of paper. Usb-sticks can be formatted and used again. Just think about how much merchandise you would have if you never throw anything away but recycle it!

Planning an event, congress or incentive costs a lot of money, planning and stress. Why not partner up with another company to ‘share’ your event. You don’t have to have your event at the same day, but you can use each others venues, materials etc.

Food & drinks
Of course you want to serve your attendees great beverages and food. But before you go crazy ordering caviar and bottles of bubbles, think for a second. You can decrease the amount of plastic by serving glasses instead of plastic and use real cutlery. Water glasses filled with water from a bigger water cooler instead of serving small water bottles could save you a few trash cans full with waste. And, you don’t really need to single pack every sandwich in plastic. Doggy bags are always a good idea, you don’t want to throw away good food! Take the doggy bogs home or deliver them at a homeless centre.

What other things does your company do to decrease the carbon footprint?