The hottest meeting trends for 2014 – part 1

I hope you enjoyed your holidays and found some time to relax. A brand new year is waiting for us and we want to make it even better than the last one. I did a little research to make a prediction about what 2014 might hold for corporate events. Here is the first part of my results, the other one will follow next week.

130331 Blog Holland Hybrid events from local to global

Gone are the times when top managers and scholars determined the leading topics, which should be discussed during business meetings. Since people are getting more selective (where and how to send their spare time), content of meetings needs to be more appealing to the target group. But what does your target group want? Crowdsourcing is a process to collect opinions, ideas and content from a large group of people. It is a great method to determine relevant topics and questions within your target group, which helps you create an inspirational and informative program.

Conference and event apps

Just like Julius Solaris described in his Event App Bible, more and more meeting and event planners are searching for options to implement apps into their event. I expect this trend to grow in 2014. The app functions vary, from customized agendas, interactive tools and digital check-in. While the interest in this topic is big, the relevance of an app can still be discussed. Meeting planners have to ask themselves how their event and visitors would profit from an app. For many of them the cost/benefit ratio might not work out.

Hybrid meetings

Hybrid meetings have been a hot topic for a while and they are still moving on. With busier schedules and lower travel budgets, more multinational corporates will choose to connect their local meetings with each other digitally and more participants will follow the event from a distance. The technology for excellent audio and video streams is getting better. In the next step we need to improve the hospitality for online participants with exclusive content and services.

Audience engagement and networking

We are living in extremely noisy times and everybody suffers at least a bit from information overload. Nobody is waiting for another lecture during a meeting. Thanks to the worldwide web, knowledge is accessible for all of us, but since the stream of information never stops, no one is able to retain and apply it. Not only do meetings offer the opportunity to get away from the office environment, they also give us the chance to exchange with others. In conversation with like-minded people, we increase our learning capacities and improve our social networks. Therefore, networking will become a top priority, which brings meetings back to their essential elements: bringing people together.

What do you think about these trends? I’d love to hear your opinion about them. All feedback is welcome, so don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

Creative meeting design: 3 ways to empower your audience

In my blogpost series about creative meeting design, it is time to turn to the particpants of a meeting or conference. I believe that audience participation is becoming a crucial component of future meetings. More and more delegates will claim the right to a say in your conference rather than just sit passively and listen to a dull monologue. But audience participation can also be beneficial to your meeting. Firstly, your audience will feel more involved if their opinion matters. Secondly, participants can deliver precious feedback and input that contributes to the goal of your meeting. Recently, a number of technologies have been developed to increase audience participation during a session. In this post I will discuss three methods: Sendsteps, TimeVote and Post-it walls.

Blog Holland creative meeting design audience

1. Sendsteps: send2vote & Send2stage

Sendsteps is the Dutch winner of the FRESH Award 2013 for the “Best Meeting Tool”. It is a powerpoint plugin that allows the audience to comment on the speaker and to ask questions per SMS or tweet. You can also choose to use it as a voting tool for multiple choice questions. Before the reactions appear on screen you can make a selection of relevant comments and questions and discard the rest. Since the messages can be send anonymously you get an earnest impression of your participants’ opinion.

130310 Holland blog Sendsteps wins best meeting tool FRESH13


Sendsteps is a great opportunity to give your audience a voice during the meeting. However, you should use this tool with a clear purpose. There is no use for your audience to react, if you won’t do something with their reactions. But how can the speaker integrate comments and questions unsefully in his session? Are you going to make a selection of questions that will be published? If yes, you should have clearly defined selection criteria.

2. TimeVote: Boring? Next!

TimeVote can be a good tool to spice up your session because it empowers your audience to control the time a speaker gets on stage. If the audience loves his story, they can slow down the speakers timer to prolong his presentation. On the other hand, a speaker who is a bit dull will have to wrap up early. The app was developed in Holland during the Amsterdam Startup Weekend to increase interaction with the public.

Blog Holland audience participation timevote


There is a significant risk that your speakers will be judged purely on their entertainment skills. Thus, if non of your speakers is a experienced entertainer your meeting might end quickly before any of them could share his message. Neither you nor your audience would profit from a prematurely ended meeting. Keep in mind that some ideas need a longer introduction before their full potential becomes apparent.

3. Post it notes: walls of ideas

For the technophobics among us there is also a more old-fashioned way to get the audience involved in your session. PR expert Heidi Thorne describes different ways that 3M Post it notes can be used for events. My personal favorite is the Question Wall, which can be performed before the actual session starts. Ask attendees a question about your conference, for example what motivates them to come or what they hope to learn in the sessions. Let them write their answers on post its and stick them to a wall or white board. This is a cheap and easy but efficient solution to gather many answers in short time.

Blog Holland audience participation post it wall


As with Sendsteps, you should integrate a post it wall with a clear purpose. Do you want to use it as a brainstorm session? Can you think of a way to integrate the input into the sessions? With an eye on green meetings you should keep in mind that this option is less sustainable than the high-tech solutions.

What is your opinion on audience participation? And do you have any hot tips to get your audience involved in a useful way? I’d love to hear them.

New in Holland: Utrecht converts office building into hotel

The Papendorp business district in Utrecht is one of the most sought-after and most expensive office locations in Holland, as it the most centrally located spot in the country. Companies such as CapGemini, Mercedes-Benz, Siemens and KPN have offices here.

The former Maximus office building was converted into the recently opened 118-room-large Holiday Inn Express Hotel Utrecht, with a lounge, bar, breakfast room and meeting rooms. The hotel is located within walking distance of top meeting location Domus Medica.

Check for more info:

New in Holland: First-class meeting in a soccer stadium

Today’s soccer stadiums are no longer restricted to football. A good example of this is the new Euroborg Stadium in Groningen. On non-soccer days it is the perfect place for meetings, conferences and events.

In addition to large rooms that can accommodate up to 1500 guests combined, it is a surprising experience to gather with a small group for a meeting in the vast stadium. The skyboxes are exclusive rooms for your meeting with a beautiful view of the turf! If you are looking for a meeting break, consider a tour of the FC Groningen stadium, a memorable behind the scenes experience.

Check for more info:

New in Holland: Paviljoen Puur – Fort Diemerdam

A coastal battery in the Defence Line of Amsterdam, Diemerdam once kept the ‘enemy’ outside of the city. The ultramodern Paviljoen Puur blends in with its surroundings, and offers a unique venue for extraordinary encounters between people, history, culture and nature.

The exceptional architecture, modern amenities and historic location make this an inspiring venue for any meeting or event. Close to the city of Amsterdam, yet in the heart of nature. Inside, yet outside, this is the inspirational power of Paviljoen Puur.

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4 new ‘hidden secrets’ of Holland: venues and meeting spaces you will not easily find by yourself

Not all venues make the guides. You need to be told about these exclusive gems by insiders who know their way around Holland. Read about my latest discoveries.

Brabant top venue no longer a ‘secret’: Groenendael

Earlier this month, Groenendael Hotel & Conference Center in Hilvarenbeek, one of the finest training and conference venues in Holland, reopened its doors. The original castle and estate date from the 14th century. In the 1950s Philips became the exclusive tenant, and added a state-of-the-art training centre with 120 rooms, two high-tech auditoriums and over 30 meeting rooms, all located on a beautiful ten-acre-large estate. On 1 October 2012, operations were taken over by meeting venue specialist Regardz and exclusive caterer Hutten, finally making this location available for all meeting planners.

The location is dedicated to developing skills and sharing knowledge, and provides all the facilities required for an uninterrupted and successful training or meeting. All technology required is available, and the food and beverage is tailored to the meeting. There are many breakout and seating areas for secluded discussions or just to relax, plenty of sports facilities and comfortable rooms. And no matter what window you look out from, the impeccable lawns and beautiful nature are all around you.

A whole island for yourself: Fort Island IJmuiden

Fort Island IJmuiden is only accessible by boat. The short crossing is the surprising start of a unique meeting experience! The crossing, the vast fortress, historic rooms and complete equipment for business meetings, make for an inspiring and surprising combination.

This ten-acre-large versatile island lies at the mouth of the North Sea, and is a part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam. Imagine yourself in an ambience of history, adventure, relaxation and excitement, just 25 minutes from Amsterdam. This UNESCO World Heritage site offers five unique rooms for 10 to 400 guests, and can be rented exclusively.

In keeping with the unique character of the location, special meeting breaks are offered, such as exploring the fort with short, original and invigorating team activities and individual activities.

In the largest painting in Holland: Panorama Mesdag

Panorama Mesdag is a unique location for an unforgettable evening with your guests. Upon entering, you step right into the largest painting in Holland, and imagine yourself 120 years ago in the atmosphere of the old fishing village and developing seaside resort of Scheveningen. Panorama Mesdag is a cylindrical painting, more than fourteen meters high and 120 meters in circumference. The vista of the sea, the dunes and Scheveningen village was painted by one of the most famous painters of the Hague School, Hendrik Willem Mesdag. It is the oldest 19th-century panorama in the world in its original site, and of great cultural heritage.

The red and green museum rooms are available for receptions and dinners. Part of this experience is a tour of the museum, which allows your guests a glimpse behind the scenes, where the secret of the Panorama is unveiled. Vincent Van Gogh once reflected that “Panorama Mesdag is the most beautiful sensation of my life. It has just one tiny flaw and that is its flawlessness.

The farmers’ way at Hayema Heerd

An experience that your attendees will long remember and guaranteed to make for an inspiring meeting. This is what the authentic and beautifully located conference and recreational farm Hayema Heerd offers. The impressive farmhouse with its huge trusses, beams and thatched roof is the perfect backdrop for meeting, learning, reflection and innovation.

Your guests may even sleep in the hayloft in a bed of straw, while local agricultural entrepreneurs offer a unique and inspiring break. During a tour they tell you how they manage their businesses and what choices they have made. They give you an interesting peek into their rural lives.

And there are more…

Check my previous blogposts on Holland’s ‘hidden secrets’ via this link: