Meet in The Hague: a destination to make great decisions

The Hague is often referred to as a city of many faces. While Amsterdam is the official capital of Holland, the national government and the residence of the Dutch royal family are settled in The Hague. I have been on another site inspection to check out the meeting facilities in the secret capital for you.

Blog Holland The Hague

The international appeal of The Hague is even more overwhelming than in Amsterdam. More than half of the population are not Dutch natives. About 160 international organizations, 107 embassies and 316 international businesses have their seat in The Hague. The broad cultural diversity is expressed in many colourful festivals, museums and theatres.

My friends of The Hague Convention Bureau told me that The Hague has been a place to meet for centuries. Since the first Peace Conference in 1899 took place, prominent people from all over the world come together to share ideas and make decisions. Today, The Hague is officially renowned as the City of Peace and Justice and is the official seat of the Interational Criminal Court of Justice. Are you facing a meeting with conflicting stakeholder interests or cultural barriers? Do you need to share a difficult message or make  a big decisions for your company? Then The Hague is your destination.

Blog Holland Thalys

Accessibility

You can reach The Hague via Airport Rotterdam and The Hague. Since Holland’s second airport is less busy than Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, you can benefit from quicker chek-in’s and comfortable departure times to 34 destinations. Guests from Belgium and France have a great connection with Hispeed and Thalys trains. I you don’t like flying, StenaLine offers a convenient and affordable ferry service from Harwich to Hook of Holland, twice per day.

Venues

Blog Holland World Forum

Hidden Secrets

Venue: Caballero Factory, a former cigarette factory, which has been transformed to an inspirational business venue with industrial charme

Restaurant: De Tapperij, a quiet and cosy restaurant in style of the 19th century

Activity: vist the harbour of The Hague, buzzing with activities from fishermen and yachting enthusiasts

After you meeting

How much time do you have before you leave? If you have less than a day you should enjoy the rich history in the city centre of The Hague.  The official tourist office offers special Art & Antiques Walks, a tour that leads you through the many antique shops, galleries and auction houses. In the evening you can visit one of the many theatre stages like Korzo Theater to enjoy cabaret, a musical or dance performance.

You have a whole day or more time to send in The Hague? The I recommend you to check out another face of the city. Die to its appealing location at the shores of the north sea, The Hague owns the two popular seaside resorts Scheveningen and Kijkduin, which both are popular playgrounds for surfers and kiteboarders. Especially in summertime, these places are a must-see.

Blog Holland Scheveningen

More information

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

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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.

rai

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.

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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.

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

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

Activity
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.

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.

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

Venues

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.

Let’s meet in Groningen: a site inspection in the capital of the North

Groningen is frequently called the ‘Capital of the North’ and has a central function in the Northern region of Holland. I have visited the city for you to check out the meeting facilities.

Holland’s city of sustainability and health

Groningen has hosted many international meetings thanks to the great reputation of the Groningen University and the University Medical Centre. EU research has shown that the inhabitants of Groningen appreciate their city more than anywhere else in Europe. Groningen is cherished for its safety, the pure air, a beautiful city centre and pleasant surroundings.

Blog Holland Groningen City

Groningen is Holland’s leading city in green energy. From 19-20 November Groningen hosts the annual Energy Convention, an international platform for senior energy experts to exchange knowledge about energy and sustainability research. Many power companies in Groningen are working together as the Energy Valley Top Club to promote green energy matters. Power companies and other corporates, that are involved into sustainability topics can get inspired by the green spirit that lives in Groningen.

Another prominent topic in Groningen is healthy aging. Since Dutch people are living longer, the universities and medical centre of Groningen have initiated numerous research projects to find out how lifestyle factors influence the aging process. The LifeLines project for example monitors lifestyle and health of three generations of Dutch residents. Corporates in health and geriatric care can clearly benefit from this knowledge.

Blog Holland Groningen Mills

Easy access with Airport Eelde

Groningen Aiport Eelde provides excellent accessibility for international guests. The favourable departure times and the quick check-ins make Airport Eelde an attractive airport for holiday and business travellers. There are frequent flights to many destinations in Southern Europe and the UK and flights to more destinations like Munich, Stockholm and Rome are planned. Compared to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Airport Eelde is less busy and crowded. You can also travel to Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht by train.

Blog Holland Groningen Airport

Venues

Groningen offers a wide range of historic and modern venues for big and small meetings. Biggest advantage for low-budgets: Groningen lies 30 percent below the price level in Amsterdam. Here are some recommendations by the Groningen Convention Bureau.

MartiniPlaza Convention Centre
Prinsenhof Hotel
The Wall House
The Aa-Church
Het Kasteel (The Castle)
The Oosterpoort & The Stadsschouwburg
Hanze Plaza
The Martini Church
The Remonstrantse Church

My personal hotel tips: Hampshire Hotel Plaza and NH Groningen

Hidden Secrets

Venue
Hayema Herd, a traditional farmhouse with facilities for meetings and conferences. Taste the rural life and sleep in the hayloft in a bed of straw.

Restaurant
Boven Jan, a brand-new restaurant in the heart of Groningen.

Activity
Hofjeswandeling, a walk through the city of Groningen along the various guesthouses. In the past these beautiful atria served as a temporary accommodation for the poor. Ask GCB for more information.

130914 Facebook Holland Puzzla Martini Tower

After your meeting

Recently, Groningen has been chosen as the city with the best city centre in Holland. That’s why Groningen is a real paradise for shopping queens. From large chain shops to small, charming stores you can find anything you want. If you prefer enjoying some art you should visit the Groningen Museum. The extraordinary building hosts fascinating exhibitions of paintings and photography. After the long hours of sitting in the meeting room you might also need some physical activity. From the Martini Church Tower you can enjoy an amazing view of Groningen and the surroundings, but first you must climb up 96.8 meters to the top of the 500-year old building. Thanks to the many students in Groningen, the city offers a vibrant nightlife. There is no fixed closing time for pubs and bars, so you are invited to party with the locals until the wee small hours.

More information

What is your impression of Groningen after this report? For more questions about meeting activities in and around Groningen you can contact my friends from the Groningen Convention Bureau.

#Planners are… Researchers

So far we have explored many skills and functions of the meeting planner and I have to admit that I was really impressed by everything I have learned. But besides organizational, communicative and negotiation skills you need more. Knowledge, for example. Since you are the first contact person, all questions concerning the event will be directed to you. As a good planner, you will always have the answer.

Modern business concept

Walking information desk

Beside research for a proper destination and venue you need to explore the surroundings of your location. Your attendees will ask you for the way.

“Attendees often ask me questions like ‘Where is the next bus stop?’, ‘What is the fastest way to the city center?’ or ‘Do you know a good pub/restaurant around here?’. I always try explore my chosen destination to collect facts that might turn out useful for the attendees, like bus stops, train schedules, clubs, bars,supermarkets…”  (anomynous)

“I often have to plan international meetings with many international guests. This often turns out to become a study of foreign cultures and habits. How do I receive Russian visitors? What food do the Japanese prefer? And how can I make sure that my Spanish guests will be on time?”  (anomynous)

Technology

Of course, even the the meeting planner can’t know everything. In this case you have to find out.

“My clients are typically non-profits, which fall slightly under the “up with technology” in their company, much less their evnets. So in order to push and integrate updated features, it has fallen on me to either know and do, or know and oversee or not know and be willing to try. Among the things I have done are registration sites and databases, webpage design, social media, audio-visual requirements… shall I go on?” (Janna Bowman, @JDuckEvents)

Blog Holland Meeting planners discover

Discover

“I know a lot of planners use 3rd parties to source their meetings and research venues but for me, that’s not only the fun part but it’s the most important part.  During the data gathering and research phase for any event, it’s during this process you make the most connections and build the most relationships.

Outside of site research, we have to find the most cost effective ways to do business.  We are often tasks with finding assessing the best registration software, discovering new methods of attendee engagement, accessing the most sustainable supplies, securing the most inspiring speaker and integrating latest technology to meet the needs of the clients and/or attendees.  We pride ourselves on being creative so it only makes sense that we actually enjoy staying up nights researching.” (Kendra McMurray, @Meeting_Pro)

Please tell me what you think!

Can you tell us examples from your work as a planner that underline your overall expertise? And what other skills do you have? Leave a comment or send a tweet with the hashtag #PlannersAre. Let’s show the industry how broad the capacities of a meeting planner are.
Finally I want to thank Carmen Gosalves, Janna Bowman and Kendra McMurray for their valuable input.

Sustainable meetings: 5 tips for green catering

When planning a green conference or business meeting you also have to attend to the catering. Your participants need good meals to fill their stomaches and energise their brains. The dishes you serve them can make a big difference for the environment. Hire a caterer who is willing to work with you on green meals. Here are some tips you should keep in mind.

Blog Holland Green Catering Native food rabbit

1. Native nibbles

Your food should not have to travel further than your meeting delegates. The first step to green catering is to work with local suppliers. Local foods travel a shorter distance from farm to plate demanding less fuel for the delivery and causing less CO2 emissions.
You will be rewarded with extra fresh and healthy products.

2. Seasonal snacks

Local suppliers can grow fruit and vegetables out of season. This costs extra energy for artificial heating and lightning in greenhouses. Seasonal products are not only better for the environment but also for your purse. Ask your local caterer for seasonal dishes. A typical Dutch winter dish is stamppot from mashed potatoes and vegetables.

Blog Holland green catering stamppot

3. Untoxicated

For a long time they were dismissed as hippie stuff but recently organic foods are becoming a new health and eco-trend.’Organic’ means for fruit and vegetables that no pesticides and fertilizers were used for their growth. Organic meat has to be made from animals that have not been fed anitbiotics.
‘Nontoxic’ products are not only better for the environment but also for your health. According to organic-fans they also richer in taste and nutrients.

Blog Holland green catering meat

4. No need for meat

The animal feed and meat industry belongs to the most polluting industrial sectors. Livestocks produce more greenhouse gasses than all the cars in the world and due to grazing they claim more land than any other human activity. They are fed tons of antibiotics that also contaminate our water. Thus eating less meat does not sound like a bad idea. Ask your caterer for low-meat or vegetarian dishes. You will also contribute to animal welfare

5. Left overs left for good

Make sure that your caterer uses reusable platters, tableware and serving dishes. Talk to you caterer about what quantities are served to reduce leftovers and inform about possibilities to donate or recycle surplus food.

Now it’s up to you!

For more information about green restaurants and catering in Holland you might want to take a look at the “Green Meetings” section of my website. If you have additional suggestions, I’d love to hear them.