(Almost) Time to say good-bye

In Holland we have a saying that freely translates into the following: you should leave when the going is good. And let me tell you, I do feel like the going is good right now. And still, or possibly that’s exactly why, my Dutch heart was very heavy when we announced that I will be stepping down as Holland ambassador by the end of the year:

Holland Moves – including myself!

Five years ago, the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Convention was looking for a new, unique and fun way to show the international meetings and conventions industry just how suitable our small country is for international events. And why! Somehow along the way our paths crossed at the right time and in the right moment and the rest has become history.

It has been an honor and a privilege to get international eventprofs around the world not only acquainted with but even more so excited about the destination Holland. Our diversity, approachability and openness. Our oustanding infrastructure and state-of-the-art meeting venues. Our approach to business, creativity and thinking in chances not in barriers. Our charisma, enthusiam and open mind. All that is what makes Holland move. That is also how Holland moves your meeting to the next level. And that is how Holland moves people. Including myself.

Moving on and looking back

I don’t want to look back on these past five years just yet though – we’ll keep the best for last. But being Mr Holland has been an extraordinary journey. And meeting all these amazing eventprofs at events like The Meetings Show UK, IMEX Frankfurt, IMEX America and IBTM World – just to name a few – most certainly has been the highlight.

At this moment in time my journey is taking me on a slightly different path though as I will follow my passion and embark on a world tour with my band. The time has come to move on. And in Holland we think that is a good thing.

Time to celebrate at Rendezvous!

But rest assured, you have not seen the last of me quite yet. Join Team Holland and myself at IBTM World in Barcelona this year where we will show you how Holland moves your meeting to the next level. It will be three days of meeting new and old friends, celebrating and yes, sadly, saying good-bye. And we would not be Holland if we did not have a very special treat in store: We teamed up with IBTM World and MPI Foundation to light up the night orange with you on Wednesday, November 30. Join us at Rendezvous where we will not only have an amazing time, but also do good: MPI Foundation will invest all proceeds into Europe’s meeting and event industry through scholarships, grants and research.

I sincerely hope to see you there!

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Holland Moves You

The Dutch are known to be open-minded and friendly. Creative and efficient. Innovative and business oriented. And I do have to admit that we take quite some pride in it.

However, and maybe most importantly, we are also passionate about sharing our experiences, knowledge and enthousiasm with the world. We like to stir up things and look for new opportunities. That’s probably why innovation thrives in our small country. We simply love to set people and businesses in motion. Let’s take a closer look at how exactly Holland moves you…

Holland Moves You – from A to B

Holland moves you from the North Sea beaches to the enchanting forests of the Veluwe. From the bustling heart of metropolitan cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague to the serenity of hidden chateaus. From traditional landmarks to modern art & design festivals. Move through the vast heath or against the winds on our dykes.

Holland is not only a diverse, but also very compact country. So compact in fact, that we also call it Holland City. That’s what makes moving around so very easy in Holland. From North to South Holland is only 300km/186mi long. From West to East a mere 200km/124mi. From Amsterdam, every major city and every small village in Holland can be reached within three hours, thanks to our great transportation infrastructure. And did you know that besides being home to the world’s largest aviation hub, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Holland has four more international airports? Pretty impressive for such a small country, isn’t it?

Holland Moves You – to the beat of your own drum

In Holland we appreciate uniqueness and thinking out of the box. In fact, being a melting pot with more than 190 nationalities is one of the key factors that makes the Dutch so open-minded. We appreciate how different personalities with different backgrounds and different views widen your horizon. But we also see the importance of staying true to yourself, your values and believes. The same applies to meetings. We realize that no meeting is the same and that there is no one-size-fits-all formula. New insights, developments, opportunities, innovations and technologies are around every corner and we are ready to seize them. And we just might throw in some Dutch wit, charm, and gezelligheid along the way. Because after all, we still like to march to the beat of our own drum.

And, speaking of beats. Holland is home to some of the finest DJs in the world. Tiësto, Afrojack, Junkie XL and Armin van Buren’s beats get people moving on dance floors all around the world. Even the Dutch Royal family:

Holland Moves You – to higher (meeting) levels

Holland may be small in size, but the Dutch are big in business opportunities. We thrive on building bridges and connecting the world. And we do it with an international outlook and a no-nonsense attitude. Holland is a superb incubator for innovation. Something that international investors have realized as well. Amsterdam / Rotterdam was recently named the 3rd attractive metropolitan region for FDI (foreign direct investment) according to IBM’s Global Location Trends report and the Dutch start-up scene is one of the most prominent in Europe. Ever heard of booking.com, TomTom or WeTransfer? All Dutch!

Holland’s well-established and professional meetings and conventions infrastructure is equally impressive. From convention centres like RAI Amsterdam, World Forum The Hague and Rotterdam Ahoy, to conference hotels and special venues. From Regional Convention Burueaus to Destination Management Companies. With expertise, creativity, efficiency and an undeniable business instinct the Dutch meetings industry knows how to move your meeting to the next level. And it never stops moving itself, as the annual new developments prove.

Let Holland move you – in the best ways possible!

Holland moves you on many levels! Personally and professionally. Emotionally and educationally. We spin you around and turn you upside down. We challenge you to move your feet, open your mind and question the status quo. In other words, Holland Moves You – in the best ways possible! So let’s meet in Holland and let’s move your meeting to the next level.

Holland Moves You

Holland Moves you – to Holland! Win a trip at IMEX America or IBTM World

To show you that we truly move you we, well, literally want to move you – to Holland! Visit Team Holland at the Holland stand at IMEX America in Las Vegas or at IBTM World in Barcelona  and let’s get moving together for your chance to win a trip to Holland. To find out more, visit www.meetmrholland.com. To find out more, visit www.meetmrholland.com.

The Meetings Show 2016 recap – the UK’s got talent!

The Meetings Show may be a bit smaller in size than the other established international meetings and event trade shows, but maybe that is exactly why Team Holland loves the event so much. As a small country with lots to offer we can certainly relate! So no surprise that Team Holland had a lovely time twisting the trade floor at the Meetings Show UK once again.

Team Holland at The Meetings Show UK 2016

Team Holland at The Meetings Show UK 2016

The Orange Twist – the UK’s got talent!

Well, to be fair, not only the UK has got talent. All event professionals at The Meetings Show 2016 showed a great deal of talent with the #OrangeTwist. And since in this case pictures say much more than my words, just have a look yourself:

 

Win a trip to Holland

Did we get a twisted photo together at The Meetings Show 2016? Then head over to my Facebook page to tag, like and share your photo.

‘And what’s in it for me?’ I hear you ask. Quite a bit actually! If our Orange Twist photo gets the most likes you will win a fantastic 4-day trip for 2 to Holland*. The trip includes:

in Amsterdam:
– 1 night at Park Plaza Hotel Amsterdam, incl. breakfast
– 2 IAmsterdam City Cards (24 hours)
– lunch incl guided tour at Beurs van Berlage Amsterdam
– lunch incl guided tour at RAI Amsterdam

in The Hague:
– 2 nights at Crowne Plaza Hotel The Hague, incl. breakfast
– 1,5 hours The Hague city tour with a The Hague Convention Bureau city guide
– lunch at one of The Hague’s top restaurants offered to you by Kuoni Destination Management

And a round-trip flight for two, of course.

Update: Michal’s Orange Twist was unbeatable and he is the lucky winner of the trip to Holland. Congratulations, Michal!

TMS16 Orange Twist winner Michal

The Meetings Show UK 2016 – a lovely experience all around

The thing I love most about a smaller trade show is that there is just a bit more time to network and (re)connect with new and old friends. And the Meetings Show is no exception. Just take a look at some of the great moments Team Holland and I shared with event professionals from all over the world:

Where you can meet Team Holland in 2016

If you weren’t able to meet Team Holland at The Meetings Show UK, no need to worry. In 2016 you can still meet us at IMEX America in Las Vegas and IBTM World in Barcelona. Hope to see you there!

And if you would like to find out more about the Orange Twist, feel free to visit my website www.meetmrholland.com.

*Terms & conditions apply

Hotel and venue openings in Holland in 2016

In 2015 we saw a record-number of new hotel and venue openings in Holland. It’s pretty safe to say that there won’t be quite as many openings in 2016, but we have quite a few to get excited about. Here are the meeting hotels and venues that we are expecting 2016:

Novotel Amsterdam Schiphol Airport – hotel

opened: December 2015

Novotel Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Novotel Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Technically, Novotel Amsterdam Schiphol Airport was the last hotel that opened in 2015. But since it was literally on the verge of 2016 I would like to include them in the 2016 list as well.

Novotel Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, part of the Accor Hotels Group, is conveniently located between Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and the city centre. This means it can be easily reached from the airport, while Amsterdam’s city centre is just around the corner as well. The modern hotel offers 17 meeting rooms with a capacity of up to 360 people. With 1.300m2/1.400ft2 flexible meeting space Novotel Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is suitable for large- and small scale events.

Best Western City Hotel Woerden – hotel

expected opening: February 2016

Bird's Eye view of Woerden

Bird’s Eye view of Woerden

The Best Western City Hotel Woerden is a smaller hotel located right in the scenic, so-called green heart of Holland right between the cities Utrecht and Gouda. If you are looking for a meeting hotel outside the hustle and bustle of the major cities Woerden is a very suitable location. The hotel is located in a scenic and historical environment and the local castle is just a short walk away. Utrecht is reachable by train in just 10 minutes. Best Western City Hotel Worden offers a meeting room with space for up to 40 people.

A’DAM – venue

expected opening: Spring 2016

A'DAM toren and EYE Film Museum at night

A’DAM toren and EYE Film Museum at night

A’DAM is an eye-catching tower behind Amsterdam’s Central Station and right next to the equally eye-catching EYE Film Institute. The tower was originally comissioned by Royal Dutch Shell who used the location from 1971 – 2009. After extensive reconstruction A’DAM will re-open as multi-functional venue in the spring of 2016. Besides offices, A’DAM will be home to cafes, restaurants a hotel (Sir Adam, see below), an observation point and a revolving restaurant. It is safe to say that A’DAM offers the best 360 degree view of Amsterdam you will find. Getting to A’DAM is already part of the experience as you’ll have to take a ferry accross the IJ River. Whether you’ll be organizing your next event there or taking your delegates over for dinner or drinks, you will definitely make a lasting impression.

By the way, A’DAM is also short for ‘Amsterdam Dance and Music’ to reflect the business of its main tentants: world renowned Dutch music industry companies ID&T, AIR Events and Massive Music.

Sir Adam – hotel

expected opening: Summer 2016

A'DAM toren with Amsterdam skyline view

A’DAM toren with Amsterdam skyline view

Sir Adam is the newest addition to SIR Hotels’ collection of luxury and boutique hotels and the little brother of the award winning Sir Albert, SIR Hotels’ first hotel in Amsterdam. The hotel will be located in the aforementioned A’DAM tower.

Besides aproximately 110 guest rooms the Sir Adam will offer plenty of creative space, a restaurant, terrace and destination bar. And while not much detail about the hotel is known yet, one thing is certain: Sir Adam will offer the most compelling skyline views of Amsterdam.

Mate Bruno Rotterdam – hotel

expected opening: Fall 2016

Mate Bruno Rotterdam

Mate Bruno Rotterdam

After opening its first Dutch venue in Amsterdam, Spanish hotel chain Room Mate chose Rotterdam for its second hotel in Holland. Mate Bruno will be located at the Wilhelminapier in Rotterdam in a historic building that was used to store tea back in the days. I’m very happy that during the reconstruction all characteristic and monumental elements of the building will be kept. The 4*-hotel will offer about 230 rooms and plenty of meeting facilities (details to follow). Not to forget a spectacular roof terrace with a beautiful view of Holland’s most impressive skyline.

And since its Spanish roots are important to the chain, there will be a Spanish market hall, a ‘mercado’, with several stores and eateries located on the main floor of the building. A touch of Spain in Rotterdam. Vamos a Mate Bruno en Rotterdam!

Postillion Hotel Amsterdam – hotel and conference centre

expected opening: September 2016 (conference centre) & September 2017 (hotel & additional conference space)

Postillion Hotel Amsterdam artist impression

Postillion Hotel Amsterdam – artist impression

Dutch hotel chain Postillion Hotels will open its first location in Amsterdam in 2016. In September the brand new conference centre will opens its doors for up to 2.000 delegates. The conference centre will also host an exhibition space and flexible work spaces. A smart move from Postillion Hotels who will strenghten its position on the Dutch meeting and conference market with this new location. The adjacent hotel will open a year later, in September 2017, offering 300 rooms and additional meeting space for up to 2.000 people. Postillion Hotel Amsterdam’s location in Amsterdam North is very convenient for business travelers: Central Station, RAI Amsterdam and major highways are close by and there is ample parking space.

Park Inn by Radisson Amsterdam City West – hotel

expected opening: early 2017

Park Inn by Radisson Amsterdam City West

Park Inn by Radisson Amsterdam City West

Technically, the new Park Inn by Radisson Amsterdam City West is not opening in 2016, but in early 2017. I still think it’s well worth the mention already. Located just outside Amsterdam’s city centre, Park Inn by Radisson Amsterdam City West is situated near multiple transport options, including train, tram, bus and major highways and offers plenty of on-site parking space. The hotel’s flexible meeting facilities include a ballroom, 17 meeting rooms and break-out areas. Park Inn by Radisson Amsterdam City West will offer just short of 500 Standard and Superior Rooms and Suites.

More hotels opening in Holland in 2016

Dutch habits: we’re happy!

As most of you probably already know by now, I am a huge music fan. Maybe you have even seen me perform during one of the many gezellige Happy Hours at the Holland stand at meeting conventions all over the world? And in case you missed it, I even wrote a song about adding some orange to your world. What can I say? Music just makes me happy.

But truth be told, it’s not only music that makes me happy. There must be something in the Dutch water, because Holland consistently makes it to the top ten of happiest countries in the world.* Well, maybe it’s not so much the water, but more about the way we live our lives in Holland. Let me introduce you to some of the Dutch habits that might shed a light on why the Dutch are so happy.

Part-time work

The Dutch are different

The Dutch are different

Yes, I can confirm that the rumors are true. The Dutch not only mastered the art of painting, but also the art of part-time work. More than 50% of the Dutch population works part-time, which in our book means less than 36 hours a week. The reasons for working part-time for both men and women are very diverse, often personal and even go back in history. But in the end it all comes down to this: it’s all a matter of balance. The Dutch have a rather laid-back approach to work and know that there is more to life than work alone. But, don’t get me wrong now! This doesn’t mean that the Dutch are lazy. Quite the contrary! The Dutch are renown for their strong business skills, directness, no-nonsense approach and getting-things-done attitude. We just like to work efficiently so that we have more time for the important things in life.

Let’s borrel!

Like borrelen, for example. We sure do love a good borrel, no matter where in the world we are. There actually isn’t a word in the English language that would sufficiently translate the meaning of the word borrel. Essentially, a borrel is a more or less informal social gathering while having a drink (or two), some Dutch finger food like cheese or bitterballen and enjoying good company. There are Friday afternoon borrels, after work borrels (which can take place any day of the week really), during work borrels, Sunday morning borrels, after sports borrels, …. You name it, we can always find a reason for a good borrel. In fact, a borrel often takes place after an important (business) meeting and is a great and informal way to further discuss plans, strategies or even close business deals. Some people say the best business deals are sealed by the water cooler, in Holland it’s during a borrel!

Borrelen during Happy Hour at the Holland stand

Borrelen during Happy Hour at the Holland stand

Do you want a taste of a great Dutch borrel? Then make sure to come visit me during Happy Hour at the Holland stand at one of the many international events I’m visiting. Next up: IMEX Frankfurt. See you there?!

We are truly gezellig!

A borrel is also a great means to experience some true, Dutch gezelligheid. Just like borrel, there is really no proper way to translate this extremely commonly used word into the English language. It’s also very hard to describe what gezelligheid is exactly. Gezelligheid, often used as a verb pointing out that something is gezellig, is essentially a feeling that can describe a range of (positive) emotions. For example, a borrel – especially after a hard day’s work or a successful business meeting – is generally perceived as gezellig. Meeting your best friend for coffee is always gezellig. Even having a business dinner can end up being very gezellig (on top of hopefully being successful). Going on vacation is definitely gezellig. But also attending a post tour after a convention surely is gezellig. Even US president’s Barack Obama’s trip to Holland to attend the NSS top in The Hague in 2014 has been ‘truly gezellig’.

I dare say that the word gezellig is likely the most commonly used word in the Dutch language. Here’s a fun challenge: learn to pronounce it as best as you can and then tell the next Dutch person you talk to that it was truly gezellig meeting them. Let me know how it went, will you?

It’s all about the balance

While there is no scientific research showing that these habits do in fact increase the general state op happiness of the Dutch people, these habits surely play an important role in our everyday lifestyle. And like I mentioned before, the Dutch are pretty good at making sure their work life balance doesn’t get out of hand.

I’m curious, have you experienced any of these Dutch habits while visiting Holland or doing business with the Dutch? Or are there any other habits that you’ve come across that struck you as typically Dutch? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

*World Happiness Report 2016 Update

 

The unique things I love about Holland

People frequently ask me what I personally like about Holland. Is it the people, the weather, the diversity in cities? About time I share some things I really love about Holland, the things I dream about when I’m feeling a little homesick. #DreamingofHolland Here we go:

bike in Amsterdam

  • Dutch people really are open-minded. Wearing an orange suit to the supermarket? Why not! Dancing and singing in the middle of the street? Go for it! We don’t judge quickly and we’ve really seen it all.
  • The Netherlands isn’t known for having the best summers. But, the last few years, we’ve had some terrific long (indian) summers. My favourite part about it is how the Dutch all sit outside taking in all the vitamine D with the first rays of sunlight. Nobody minds the cold, just grab a blanket!
  • There is always something going on. A new festival, a cool band playing, a restaurant that is opening, an interesting exposition. Sometimes it feels you don’t have time enough to do it all. Great news for meeting planners who are looking for interesting incentives!
  • Holland is a multicultural country, and because of that we have the best of the best when it comes to food & drinks. You could eat 3 times a day in a restaurant during your trip and don’t have to eat something from the same kitchen region twice. How great is that?
  • The Dutch have great energy. They are always excited to be somewhere and will show it by joining the local festivities, take part in interactive situations or giving back the love by applauding. A great crowd for your event!

The list can go on forever! What do you really like about your country that feels unique to it?