PLANNER Iris Allebrandi: a practical view of affairs TOOLS Conference app:
from nice to have to must have
FAREWELL Jaap Westerhuijs:
Industry veteran speaks one final time
MYSTERY GUEST The weakest link: Ton Soonsâ€™ opinion on the international liver congress
FINANCE The hidden tax:
searching for the lowest VAT load
MEETING DESIGN Wisdom of the crowd: how to cause behavioural changes
SPEAKER Sustainability icon:
Jan Rotmans sketches that abrasive reality
3 Edwin Nunnink is editor in chief of Conference Holland and QM. He can be reached at edwin.nunnink@ hetportaal.com or @edwinnunnink on Twitter.
A Publication of Het Portaal Uitgevers B.V. EDITION 2013 Het Portaal Uitgevers B.V. Veerdijk 40-i, 1531 MS Wormer The Netherlands P.O. box 125, 1520 AC Wormerveer The Netherlands Tel: +31 75 647 57 47 Fax: +31 75 628 49 14 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.hetportaal.com Editorial Staff Editor in Chief Edwin Nunnink email@example.com Senior Editor Judith Munster firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing Editor Allard Frederiks Contributing Editor Jos Goossens Industry Specialist Eric Bakermans email@example.com Industry Specialist Nicolette van Erven firstname.lastname@example.org Industry Specialist Tons Soons email@example.com Photograph & Illustrations Cover Illustration Erwin Kho / Shop Around www.zerbamine.nl / www.shop-around.nl Contributing Photographer Thomas Fasting www.fastingfotografie.nl Contributing Photographer Eunice Lieveld www.eunicelieveld.com Design & Print Company SDA Print + Media www.sdaprintmedia.nl Creative Director Aryen Bouwmeester Graphic Designer Dirk van der Burgh Advertising Staff Sales Director Philip Lasance Sales Manager Ferry Aaftink firstname.lastname@example.org Account Manager Arjan Woortman Traffic Manager Monique Zijlstra Production Coordinator Natasja Groenink email@example.com Management Director John Michael Swaab firstname.lastname@example.org Director Hans Janssen email@example.com Copyright 2013 by Het Portaal Uitgevers B.V.
Made to Meet It’s actually astonishing to think that we Dutch invented something like Madurodam – a place that displays the Netherlands in miniature format – because our country is already a small one. Lay a map of Greater London over a map of the Netherlands and it will cover the entire metropolitan area of the Randstad – an area that includes our four biggest cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. By Edwin Nunnink
Our small country is home to no fewer than 16.7 million people, so you can see why we need to be a well-organised people. It’s in our natures to organise things and them together. Every village has active associations, where volunteers come together to organise a wide range of activities. We invented the ‘polder model’, a type of meeting where the parties involved handle an issue until they reach a compromise. We’re also a nation of businesspeople who travel and export a great deal, and who operate over national borders.This means we are used to dealing with international company, and the large majority of us speak the English language. Logistics is a part of trade, and a professional field in which the Netherlands excels thanks to our international key ports: Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and the port of Rotterdam. All these things combined means we have a highly developed conference and meeting industrythat embraces the organisational, faciliatory and service provision aspects. Our magazine, called QM [Quality in Meetings] and our QM Meeting Planner handbook have been a source of information and knowledge to this industry for more than twenty years. We have also been providing digital information for more than ten years now on websites, in e-newsletters, and in digital publications. We believe it is our job to inform conference organisers, associations, and meeting planners who live outside of the Netherlands of the trends and views in the Dutch meeting industry and of the opportunities that ‘Holland’ has to offer as a conference location. That is why we put together this first edition of Conference Holland. It follows the same pattern as QM:it’s substantive, independent, critical, and written with love for the organisational field. I would love to hear what you think of it. About Conference Holland is the most comprehensive guide for association managers and meeting planners who consider or decided to organise a conference in The Netherlands. Conference Holland is a special edition of QM [Quality in Meetings] a publication of Het Portaal Uitgevers. Het Portaal Uitgevers supplies trade and industry information in the trade fair, meeting, promotional
marketing, corporate gift and promotional product domain. We aim to improve knowledge in those who use these marketing and communication media to increase their returns and to stimulate and support further development in the relevant industries. We organise printed media, digital platforms and events to this end. These activities are carried out under the Expovisie, QM, and PromZ brand names.
Searching for the lowest VAT load
Participants attend conferences to gain more knowledge, but as a group they also bring with them a wealth of experience and brainpower. Those who exploit the full potential of the interaction contribute immense added value to their conference.
‘I always have a practical view of affairs’
‘What’s dropped on one side is added on the other’ 30
Being Systems and Control researchers at Delft University of Technology, Jelmer van Ast and Mathieu Gerard attended many conferences. They were struck by the impractical and outdated modes of providing conference participants with information. This is why they launched a conference app.
The International Liver Congress
VAT regulations are complex and the consequences of VAT levy are often hard to understand. A conference can lose a lot of money if the organisers forget to pay VAT and it is later claimed.
Iris Allebrandi, with an eye for detail and a practical perspective, is working on developing and streamlining the organisation of the congresses and meetings organised by the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology.
Conference app: from nice to have to must have
Ton Soons endures a depressing press conference, a weak opening and slideconsuming speakers, to note that the PCO is the quality of a Swiss clock and the conference location is worthy of its five-star status. However, it would not be Ton if he didn't see all the flaws.
The man who irrevocably put the city of Groningen on the international conference map will retire on 1 July 2013. Jaap Westerhuijs will speak as the Groningen Congres Bureau director one final time.
‘I sketch that abrasive reality’
Nationwide newspaper De Volkskrant described him as “quite a brilliant visionary” and “an indestructible optimist”. Nevertheless, Jan Rotmans – awarded Best Speaker in The Netherlands of 2012 – is worried about our world: ‘I see my optimism as a moral obligation. The Netherlands has to be truly sustainable in twenty years.’
Utrecht will make additional investments in congress fund for 2013 – Rotterdam host city of Site Global Conference 2014 – Amsterdam Marketing provides conference organisers with room guarantee – Global summit on nuclear security in The Hague – Municipality of Maastricht takes over the MECC conference centre.
Congress Calendar 54
OPINION 15 Eric Bakermans
32 Edwin Nunnink
Region of Brabant
Subventions: There’s no such thing as a free lunch Review of Into The Heart of Meetings
34 Nicolette van Erven
Four important points to consider
38 Ton Soons
If sponsors want to give a lecture…
The power of the crowd
The power of the crowd How do you use the wisdom of the crowds? Participants attend conferences to gain more knowledge, but as a group they also bring with them a wealth of experience and brainpower. Those who exploit the full potential of the interaction contribute immense added value to their conference. The time is ripe for this, argue four specialists in the field of conferences and crowdsourcing. By Allard Frederiks, CONTRIBUTING editor
Eric de Groot of MindMeeting calls the developments the conference world is undergoing a silent transition. “We are moving away from traditional knowledge sharing by experts, in the form of a classroom, to knowledge sharing via far more effective work methods. It has long been known that receiving passive lessons in the classroom is not very effective. Teaching the subject yourself, for example, is far more instructive. Providing a demonstration is also highly effective. These insights are beginning to force changes. In countries with greater social margins, with more room for experimentation with people’s interactions, the transition is faster.” Ruud Janssen of The New Objective Collective (TNOC) sees a relationship between the new developments in conference management and those of the traditional media. “People are increasing ly discovering the power of the Internet. They also want to see evidence of that power at conferences. They’re going to try things out, they’re curious. And if what they try out is better, works better - that’s just adding fuel to the fire to do more with it. I think that conferences are lagging about five to eight years behind online developments. The user adoption cycle plays out at conferences as well. This cycle revolves around more than just technology; for example, it also involves questions such as: do you design one conference for a thousand people, or a
thousand conferences for one person?” “The greatest added value of being ‘live’ is the interaction”, says Erik Peekel of Aaaaha! The Actor Factory. ‘The wisdom of the crowd suggests that, taken together, participants have a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience. Whenever you bring people together, you have to exploit that potential. In evaluations, participants also ask: Where does the interaction take place?’ Give participants the opportunity to connect with one another and to each other’s ideas. It is the organiser’s responsibility to achieve this.” Blowing Hot Air One pitfall that conference organisers should avoid, according to Ruud Janssen, is organising a conference in the exact same manner as the previous event. “After the event you are to answer the question: ‘how has the participants’ behaviour changed?’ You will use these outcomes when considering improvements in the form and format of the subsequent meeting. Otherwise, it is a useless endeavour - like the air wasted on blowing up a perforated balloon.” “Unfortunately I still see that happen quite frequently. If you continue to do what you’ve always done and it provides no additional value or has less of an impact: people are going to consider new ways of getting what they came for. Continuous repetition without innovation is like
When designing A conference, keep in mind that:
• participants need to understand and •
• • •
endorse the meeting’s objectives; participants are encouraged to be in charge of contributing to the content; Experts are often a good tool for this, if they operate on the basis that the participants are going to share in the process. Also theatrical resources can be deployed to create more dynamics; work methods involve a lot of action, such as looking at every angle of something while using all the senses, and having lot of room to play while working on challenging assignments; the design and facilitation of the work methods is a profession and to ensure top quality, it is to be designed with the end in mind and led by the best people in process guidance; the results are bundled in a well structured manner; the results have a clear owner at the end; the next actionable step needs to be crystal clear.
‘Teaching the subject your self is far more instructive’ Eric de Groot (1) and Mike van der Vijver (2) - MindMeeting
signing the death sentence of your event.” Another major pitfall of conference organisers, according to partner Mike van der Vijver of MindMeeting, is the idea that it is too difficult or complicated on a physical or organisational level to bring together large groups of people to exchange views. “That’s why they prefer to dispense with large group discussions or only give the participants the opportunity to cast a vote. Voting can be a useful solution, but there is so much more possible. That does mean, however, that organisers should be prepared to leave the beaten track far behind - like that tired concept of people sitting on chairs in neat rows. And that’s scary for many. People think all too quickly about everything that can go wrong.” Solution Room Van der Vijver and Janssen have also collaborated on the development of the Solution Room: a strictly directed closing general session format to activate the behaviour change induced by peer led consultation. “Lose the closing keynote speech, no
one is looking for yet more information and motivational talks at the end of an event”, says Janssen. “Energetic, structured solutions arise from the meeting where problems are given up for adoption and every problem is actioned by 7 peers whilst you observe and are consulted. In turn everyone’s problem gets addressed. Deep conversations, practical advice and actionable steps are key to create change in behaviour with intent and purpose. “Also the use of ‘human spectrograms’ to demonstrate the impact of the solution room and physical note taking on paper table cloths create a rich engaged user experience that create strong bonds at the end of the event. Janssen: “It is essential that you are aware before you go home of the next steps to address the actions you want to take. Three months later we send the participants a self addressed postcard – as a friendly reminder of their Solution Room resolution and next steps.” According to Janssen, there is more and more demand for these kinds of precision engineered action meeting designs. “Those in instructional design and the
MindMeeting delivers meeting design for meetings with an international audience. This means that Eric de Groot and Mike van der Vijver evaluate for international clients how the meeting programme can achieve the client’s objective; both on the harder side: such as decisions and insights; and on the gentler side: such as the atmosphere and impact. MindMeeting makes a design and oversees its implementation.
professional trainers worldwide have definitely become used to doing that with small groups; but the question does arise: is it also possible with a thousand or more participants? I am convinced it is. I also think that in due time eighty per cent of future meeting formats could be designed to be ‘shelf ready’, much like Ikea packages its furniture. Designing it to be standardised and fashionable tools
is one task, the other is creating bespoke customised formats for the remaining twenty per cent of events that require tailored approaches. We’re already working on making this happen in the foreseeable future.” Amateurism around social media When it comes deploying new media and interactive technology – the experts are clear: only use them if it offers a solution for something that the stakeholder needs, when it is physically impossible to come up with a ‘live’ alternative. Peekel: “Twitter can link participants, but it can also draw attention away from the speaker. Casting votes by machine or via mobile telephone is only useful when you are also actually going to do something with the outcomes. Otherwise a simple
‘All that you learn, but do not directly apply, is quickly forgotten’ Erik Peekel Aaaaha! The Actor Factory Aaaaha! the Actor Factory works on assignment for associations and Professional Conference Organisers or PCOs. The communications agency brings participants together and gives them an active role in the programme. Erik Peekel and his team provide the added value of networking and interaction. Aaaaha! The Actor Factory produces various session formats: workshops, talk shows and guerilla actions. The Actor Factory has discussion leaders, comedians and actors available who ensure that these sessions are a success.
show of hands is faster and simpler. Janssen sees a lot of ‘amateurism’ around social media and it can become a weapon of mass distraction and frustration unless deployed properly. “It is good that there is so much experimentation with social media. In the meantime, it is becoming a sought after competence and profession alike. People who do not pause for thought about that can end up doing more harm than good. It is a like the granddaughter of the chairman of the board who plays violin and is sometimes allowed to perform during the intermission.” Van der Vijver adds: “Modern communication methods and social media offer countless extra opportunities, especially in the communication taking place before and after a meeting. You can, for example, allow participants in a simple online survey to select in advance from a range of subjects. At the end of the meeting, you can provide follow up information for participants in all manner of ways, even if practice has shown that there is little use made of the option. I think the most useful aspect is the freedom with which new contacts can be incorporated into networks that remain long after the meeting has ended, and less in the substantive follow-up.” Behavioural change Knowledge sharing and crowdsourcing during, before and after conferences are two developments that should not be stopped. Of that the interviewees are convinced. “Participants visit a conference in the hope that afterwards they will better be able to practice their profession”, says Erik Peekel. “All that you learn, but do not directly apply, is quickly forgotten. Interaction at the conference offers you the chance to build a bridge between new insights and your own practice. That interaction makes knowledge more relevant and also increases appreciation.”
‘Conferences are lagging about five to eight years behind online developments’ Ruud Janssen - TNOC | The New Objective Collective TNOC | The New Objective Collective bring ideas to life with use of live and digital communication. The collective provides innovative community management and services for live, hybrid and digital events. Ruud Janssen focuses on strategic consulting, facilitation & moderation, online and multimedia marketing, community building, online collaboration, mind mapping, new media training, meeting architecture and service design consultancy.
“Events in and of themselves have no value”, submits Ruud Janssen. “Value is only created once the conference causes behavioural changes by the stakeholders which include the participants. That is why you should ask the following question: what change in behaviour does the stakeholders need to happen as a result of attending the event?” “You must determine what the objectives for each stakeholder are for attending the conference. ROI methodology has been applied already for twenty years in the training and the HR world. Objectives and results can also be measured very well for conferences. Remember that it is not sufficient to just give participants a feeling or something to think about. Each participant must do something, undertake an action. Only then does the conference have a chance at delivering real value.” ≈
Iris Allebrandi Manager Congresses & Meetings European College of Neuropsychopharmacology
‘I always have a practical view of affairs’ Iris Allebrandi, with an eye for detail and a practical perspective, is working on developing and streamlining the organisation of the congresses and meetings organised by the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology. It is the logical next step from professionalising the ECNP Office’s Congresses & Meetings department, which she provided the groundwork for nine years ago, as a former PCO. By Edwin Nunnink, Editor in Chief Conference Holland
In 2004 Iris Allebrandi switched sides, one might say. She happened to notice a job offer that seemed cut out for her. The European College of Neuropsycho pharmacology (ECNP) was looking for someone to professionalise its organisation of congresses and meetings. “I immediately thought the job was made for me”, Allebrandi tells us when we meet in her office, located in a multitenant office building next to the University Medical Centre Utrecht. She had been working on organising conferences for seventeen years at that point. She started out at Novep, organiser of small IT conferences, in 1987, and in 1994 accepted a job at PCO Lidy Groot Congress Events (LGCE; later taken over by ICS and subsequently merged with MCI). “At Novep I first learned about automation. Working there allowed me to get acquainted with computers and registration systems at an early date”, Allebrandi says. “At LGCE, I, above all, acquired an eye for detail.“ Working for the latter, she also became acquainted with larger international conferences, such as the orthopaedic surgeons’ meeting. “The one that made the
biggest impression was the World Water Forum. All of a sudden you also have to deal with diplomacy, ministerial protocol, visa issues, round-table conferences and a great many sub-meetings.” Conference professionalisation Nine years ago, she started professionalising the ECNP congresses, which the college wanted to have more direct control over. “I’ve seen the insourcing of the organisation of conferences become a development among various large associations”, Allebrandi says. “They took on the core business themselves.” This refers to maintaining the relationship with the scientists and the industry. Contacts which are the basis of arranging all the rest. Our primary mission is to spread knowledge of our discipline among our peers, to advance the science of the brain, promote better treatment and enhance brain health. The annual congress is just one cog in this wheel. We organise all sorts of meetings, seminars and workshops throughout the year. In addition, we host three schools in Oxford and Venice, which provide a week-long interactive education course.”
“Only for the annual congress do we engage a PCO, to manage affairs like registration, hotel reservations, on-site management and exhibition logistics. This helps us deal with the peak pressure before the congresses. I learned that, for most tasks, it is far more efficient to perform them in-house, as you will need to coordinate and are finally responsible anyway.” “We do engage an AV advisor and IT company. I believe that as far as these fields are concerned, you need to engage those people who have the expert knowledge. You cannot expect a PCO to be aware of the latest developments in these fields and venues do not always have the latest technology at their disposal either.” Recurring hosts Regarding the decision as to where the congress is going to be held, Allebrandi notices that head offices of larger associations are taking charge. It is becoming less common for a professor, supported by the local branch of the association, to make a bid to host the conference and for a local committee to be in charge of the actual organisation. “The board of the association deciding <
Photograph: Thomas Fasting
I understand the way PCOs think and what they experience. I am, therefore, better able to explain our view on the matter.
where the conference should be held is becoming ever more prevalent. The main criteria of ECNP for a host city are for a candidate to be an academic city and to have good international transport connections.” The European College of Neuropsycho pharmacology congress host cities had been decided upon before she started working here. Due to the congress attracting some 6,500 attendants on average, the above criteria, the fact that five sessions need to be held concurrently and the need for space for poster sessions and an exhibition, options are limited anyway. There are four recurring host cities (Vienna, Barcelona, Paris and Amsterdam), with one ‘odd one out’ host appointed about once every five years. In 2009, the ‘odd one out’ was Istanbul, and it will be Berlin in 2014. Innovation The college’s office has by now grown to employ eleven members of staff. Iris Allebrandi, as Manager Congresses & Meetings, has now taken on a more strategic role for the ECNP-organised meetings. For three years now, ECNP has been working on evaluating and innovating the congresses and meetings. “In our educational tracks, we work with Q&A sessions, the participants in the room being asked to answer the speaker’s questions, so as to improve the interaction within the sessions. At the 2014 congress, we will start training and debate like sessions. In addition, we record the sessions of those speakers having given permission to do so and make these recordings available to participants and members on our website. We also have a TED-like, 15-minute long ‘Talk of the Month’ which we place on Youtube. These are recorded separately, quite often during the congress, since we have both the speakers and the equipment available at that time anyway. To enhance networking opportunities, every
‘My main task is to ensure as efficient as possible a spending of budget’ afternoon session ends with its own Scientific Café, allowing one to network with peers, speakers and chairs.” Attention to young researchers A lot of time and effort is also spent on attracting a younger audience. “We need some 300 core members to help out as volunteers, at a total membership of around 1,200. So it’s important to have younger academics become interested in the discipline and the college. In order to accomplish this, we have set-up a ‘junior members advisory panel’, made short clips available on our website, and created a Facebook page and Twitter account. In addition, there are travel awards for the best abstracts by young researchers and, starting this year, a special evening during the congress for the young scientists. The subjects of the training and debate like sessions include things such as ‘how to become eligible for a research grant’ and ‘how to get my paper published’. Additionally, the congress features two sessions with young speakers. Of the participants to the annual ECNP Young Scientists Workshop, the sixteen best are selected to become such a speaker. In this way, we provide them with a platform to present themselves. Extensive digitalisation Over two years ago, a process of extensive digitalisation was initialised. The aim was to become paperless to the extent possible. Abstract books were made available on-line, and whoever really wanted a paper version could buy one. In the end, some 10 per cent of participants bought a print version. A conference app was launched last year. Well over one third of attendants downloaded the app. Allebrandi: “We monitored which pages were consulted
the most and how the app worked out in practice. These data will allow us to investigate whether to add extra information or make any information better available. We will also ensure the app can be downloaded well before summer recess, instead of only two weeks prior to the congress, for it has become clear that participants wish to plan their programme at an early stage.” In the process, the congress script was also included in an app, developed in cooperation with the current core PCO, Colloquium Brussels. “It’s fantastic to not have to lug around a mountain of paper all the time and to manually insert all updates. The entire actual script is at my fingertips with one touch on my iPad. Different approach When I inquire into the differences between her current work and her PCO work, she says the association manager role fits her best. “As a PCO, part of my job was to secure client bids. The job was very much based on bringing in revenue. The basic approach of my current job is very different. My main task is to ensure as efficient as possible a spending of budget. I need to ask how we can make different use of our funds to get more out of it.” Do PCOs have any trouble with being faced with a former competing colleague? “I always have a practical view of affairs. I understand the way PCOs think and what they experience. I am, therefore, better able to explain our view on the matter. In addition, I know what a congress is about and what the college thinks important. These perceptions form the guiding principles when looking into solutions, with quality and taking care of the details being my primary concern. I very much enjoy this way of working.” ≈
15 ERIC BAKERMANS is Meetings & Conventions Manager with the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions (NBTC). He is responsible within the Business Development department for all activities and campaigns related to the brand experience ‘the inspiring meeting’. For these activities, he particularly focuses on meeting planners and conference organisers. firstname.lastname@example.org
Subventions: there’s no such thing as a free lunch
As stated by the director of a large international federation: ‘If I am to consider the Netherlands as a potential host for my conference, then I want everything for free.’ Not a single word of that statement has been made up. BY ERIc bakermans
The call for financial support from European and global associations and federations has grown stronger in recent years. And I don’t blame them. The economic impact of an international conference for a destination is clear. There is also an indirect contribution of strengthening the knowledge economy of the city or country. However, we all know there’s no such thing as a ‘free lunch’. Even apart from all the uncertainties this creates, imagine that you ‘receive’ the offer of a conference centre – what will you be able to count on when it comes to the services? What do you have a right to if things do not go well, because it was ‘free’ after all? And who will provide you a guarantee that the costs of the hotel rooms will not amount to the same ‘discount’ that you just received? Delicate matter The awarding of a cash contribution is a delicate matter. Who determines
what it is for and how much? Should the contribution, however large or small, be returned to the conference secretariat’s coffer? Or put into research? How transparent are these goals and are there any European guidelines? As the government, how do you apply the right criteria without it becoming hidden governmental aid, and how can you, as a European or global association, best communicate the need for a financial incentive to the same government? Correct: by establishing mutual agreements that give a financial injection its due. Thus for both parties. Certain degree of levelling out Now that we’re facing difficult economic times, you see – definitely in Europe – a certain degree of levelling out in cash contributions for international conferences. Where up until recently, cities – for me famously (perhaps to you, infamously) – apparently had access to almost bottom-
less pits of European funds, there are now more or less market-driven situations in which not so much subsidies as supply and demand will have a greater role to play. As far as I am concerned, a far more transparent situation than before. Why not a wish list? Happily, there’s more than one way to hook a fish. I recently spoke to the director of a European federation who had created a 50-points wish list that covered wishes both large and small. They varied from wishes about public transport, reception cocktails and city banners, up to, indeed, cash contributions. In this way, the proposed conference city can choose from a kind of menu suitable for the financial scope of its budget and/or capacity. The recognition alone by a government of the conference organisation for many is already a major boost. ≈
Conference app: from nice to have to must have Being Systems and Control researchers at Delft University of Technology, Jelmer van Ast and Mathieu Gerard attended many conferences. They were struck by the impractical and outdated modes of providing conference participants with information. This is why, in 2010, they launched a conference app. BY Judith Munster, senior editor Conference Holland
them back home, what with its weight, so all these books end up in the paper bin. Changes in the scheduled programme aren’t always properly communicated to the visitors... I could go on.” Brave new doctors The solution? A conference app. After having obtained their PhD degree in June
Photograph: Stephanie Raty
Already while still pursuing their postgraduate studies, Jelmer van Ast and Mathieu Gerard knew they were going to set up a company. They only needed to come up with a winning idea. For what ever product or service, really. It turned out their many conference visits provided them with the gap in the market they were looking for; the conference market, that is. “So many issues could be improved upon”, van Ast says, judging from experience. “Let’s start with the overview of abstracts, a compendium provided to the visitors containing summaries of all presentations to be presented during the conference. Large conferences can have thousands of presentations. Visitors are only provided with these abstracts on the first day of the conference. They then often will need to find a quiet place to look the book through and organise their personal programme. So that first day is basically lost to them.” “Another issue. It’s not easy to make notes in such a massive tome. You’re left with placing a memo, which hardly provides any space for your notes and which tends to get lost easily. Most of the visitors don’t even take the book with
Jelmer van Ast at the The European Society of Cardiology Congress
2010, these brave new doctors launched their Conference Compass company. The app was introduced at two small conferences, held in Delft and Amersfoort. A year on, the app was so much improved it could be used during two leading conferences: The European Society of Cardiology Congress (30,000 visitors, 6,000 presentations held in five days) and the European Respiratory Society (ERS) conference for lung specialists (10,000 visitors, 5,000 presentations held in five days). Since that time, the app has been used many times, at various conferences, both at home and abroad. The advantages the app provides seem self-evident. Visitors are able to access all relevant information they need – programme, abstracts, maps, travel information, venues and hotels, exhibitor list, sponsors, the latest news, et cetera – on their own smartphone or tablet with just one click. The app is available for download in the app store some two to three weeks prior to the conference, allowing for plenty of time to prepare for the conference. The app may even be consulted in places without an Internet connection available, as it can also be accessed in off-line modus once downloaded. In short, visitors will never have to miss a part of any conference again. Four versions Conference Compass developed four versions of the app. The Premium version of the app is fully customised, in both looks and available features. It is mainly used at <
premier international conferences and a great branding and sponsoring tool. The Plus version of the app is tailored to those conferences satisfied with all standard features Conference Compass offers, but do wish to provide the app with their own brand names and offer it as such in the app store. The Value version was developed for smaller conferences with less of a budget to spend. Visitors are able to retrieve the conference in question in a list of conferences provided by Conference Compass’ own app. The final model is the Multi-Conference app, targeted to organisations wishing to offer multiple events and information about the organisation itself in one app. The apps are priced from some 700 euros for the Value model to some 15,000 to 20,000 euros for the Premium version with all features. Cold feet Most conference organisers, though convinced of the advantages the app offers, do feel it does come with its negative sides. Van Ast: “Even though they are enthusiastic about the app, many organisers
still say: ‘Not yet. Perhaps next year.’” “In part, this is caused by cold feet, and in part by budget issues. They like what we offer, but still feel a bit anxious.” “Many organisers do not wish to completely let go of providing information on paper, and think of the app as an additional mode. Which means it also is an additional cost item. This is a natural response, of course, especially seeing as not every visitor has a smartphone or tablet. This number is rapdily rising, however.” Seventy per cent “While only some twenty or thirty per cent of visitors to a conference made use of the app in 2010, this number has been hitting some seventy per cent at some recent conferences. This means that organisers could choose to only print half the amount of paper information carriers, or to offer them only to visitors explicitly opting to be provided with them. This would really cut into printing, packaging and transport costs.” “We also advise that an organiser would look for one or multiple sponsors. The app is a great way for the sponsor to present itself. For instance, through adding custom sponsor pages, adding the logo of the sponsor and linking to the sponsor’s site on the menu screen or at whichever location desired. There are plenty of possibilities.”
Evaluation Another way to increase the yield of the app is to approach exhibitors. Van Ast: “A map of the conference premises and a list of exhibitors form standard features of the app. Organisers could approach the exhibitors and offer to have their logo’s or a description of their products placed on the app against some amount of money, say five hundred euros. The full cost of the app would be covered if only a quarter to one half of the exhibitors would make use of the offer.” Conference Compass evaluates the use of the app after each conference, keeping precise track of the percentage of visitors having used the app, what features were used, how they were used and how often they were consulted. The organiser asks visitors to assess their experience with the app, what features they would have liked to see included and what could be improved. “Having both these sets of information is crucial”, van Ast says. “Crucial to us, as we want to provide the optimal conference app and are continuously improving on our product. And crucial to the organisers themselves, as it allows them to make even better use of the app next time and use the information obtained to convince sponsors and exhibitors of the added value the app brings in.” Must have Conference Compass has provided use of the app at some hundred conferences by now. The organisers of these conferences unanimously state they will make use of the app the next time, too. Van Ast: “When you have experienced the app, you don’t want to make do without it anymore. When we launched the app three years ago, it was a ‘nice to have’ tool. But those organisers having made use of it by now consider it a ‘must have’ one.” ≈
Speakers are the weakest link during The International Liver Congress Ton Soons endures a depressing press conference, a weak opening and slide-consuming speakers, to note that the PCO is the quality of a Swiss clock and the conference location is worthy of its five-star status. However, it would not be Ton if he didn’t see all the flaws, such as acoustic curtains hanging in front of the vents, the housewifewith-shopping-bag types at lunch and a slow and dodgy Wi-Fi connection. By Ton Soons, trainer and advisor in texts, presentations, and conferences
The website of The International Liver Congress has been enlarged as never before. The press management alone is worthy of an EU summit. A special media agency has been hired with a real embargo policy, there are daily press conferences, both by the European Association for the Study of the Liver, and by participating companies, a permanently manned press center with twenty computers, a copier-printer, background papers, printed press releases, of course, free Wi-Fi and catering, and special rooms for interviews and video editing. If I hold my mouse above a specific lecture in the fiveday conference program, I can put it into my ‘personal diary’ with one simple click. The first impression of this great international conference -- that has been going on for nearly half a century -- is that it is as solid as a Swiss clock. This is not entirely surprising, given Swiss roots of the relevant PCO Kenes International. Two days before the starting date, I receive an email that urgently advises me to download the conference app onto my phone and/or tablet via a QR code I do that right away. But the app gets stuck immediately! Mmmm. Half a day later, it works. It will turn out to be very valuable at the conference.
Early birds The first day that I visit -- Wednesday, April 24 -- is a workshop day. On Thursday, there is the official opening and, from then on, there are also the several hundred poster presentations to visit. This target group apparently consists of early birds. Commercial sessions are planned from 7:30 am; on Friday morning an Award is being handed out at 9:15. “Is there no session on alcohol and liver?” I wonder about that. That would probably also be interesting for me, as a lay person. I search among the 12 parallel streams and find one immediately at 8:00 am. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I don’t arrive at the RAI until 8:30 am. With a single large banner and footsteps with the EASL logo on the ground, it is immediately clear where the entrance is. In the huge entrance hall, the counter format is easy to find. On the left are the speakers, on-site referrers, sponsors and exhibitors; to the right, we find eight badge printers for the numerous people who have pre-registered. Within a minute, I have my badge. Ten tons of paper On the website, I read that last year ten tons of paper was passed out, but also
a great deal was left behind. For that reason, they have chosen to work as digitally as possible for this edition. I now understand why the RAI has bins with a special section just for paper. But despite the fact that the abstracts are only available in a paperless version, there are still long lines to receive a Tote Bag with a program guide, a pen, a notepad and certainly thirteen flyers by sponsored symposia sections. I was even able to quickly pick up one of the hated lanyards. This one, fortunately, does not rotate. The badge includes a personal voucher for a so-called Poken. It allows you to exchange digital business cards and download documentation on an integrated USB stick. Ten minute coffee break We have no trouble finding Hall 2, where the seminar on liver and alcohol is underway. I expect a few hundred people, but there are no more than fifty. Put off by the incomprehensible slides, I sneak right back out and join a workshop on Viral Hepatitis where at least seven hundred people are sitting. You call this a workshop?! There is camera-projection and, via room mics, plenty of questions
There are hundreds of dishes that are still untouched.
Looking for fellow countrymen in the infinite list of participants.
The Poken allows you to download documentation on an integrated USB stick.
Why is it so crowded at the Hepa-Merz stand.
I’ve seen quite a few people use it.
Press Conference? This was actually an ordinary lecture!
Many people download the information via the corresponding QR codes.
I meet the developer of Poken.
There is extensive AV technique being used.
are put to the quickly changing speakers. Funny that there is a delay between picture and voice. Other than that, sound, temperature, chairs, light and projection are excellent. But there is not enough time to read the full texts of the slides that flash by. The cloakroom displayed the log-in code for WiFi, but this does not work in the lecture hall. So the only thing I could do was to open the app with my 3G connection. Fifteen minutes behind schedule, a very optimistic ten minute coffee break is announced, but, of course, that will never work with so many people. The coffee dispensing is extremely quick and efficient.
However, the animated conversations make it clear that the hepatitis workshop will run into quite a delay. Depressing news conference At 10:45 am, the app reminds me of the first press conference by the SecretaryGeneral of the EASL. It’s about Hepatitis C. When I come in, a friendly lady shakes my hand and I’m ticked off on a press list. Although there are only 60 chairs in this hall, there is extensive AV technique being used, including film lights, a projector, six microphones and a monitor display that must warn the speaker that his time is up. At the start, the hall is half full.
We are swamped with jargon and abbreviations, so the presentation is totally beyond me. I do understand that 0.5% of Europeans suffer from chronic hepatitis. On Twitter, someone writes that, in Western countries, alcoholism and viral hepatitis are the major causes of cirrhosis and subsequent liver cancer. Depressed, I sneak out after 25 minutes and twenty slides. This was actually an ordinary lecture. Five gavels I like the fact that the RAI has spacious corridors, many permanent monitors for perfect signage and that the lighting
is good everywhere. The coffee is good. In the large Hall 2, the huge hall lights went on just before the coffee break and I thought it was daylight! Moreover, the interior climate is still excellent and the seats are comfortable and spaciously placed. Everything is clean and well maintained. Thus far, I think the five gavels for the Dutch Conference and Meeting Classification are entirely justified. At 11:45 am, I arrive at Hall 11 where at least eight hundred people listen to experts on ‘Immunology and the liver.’ Again, all perfect technique, except that the large projector in the back of the room to enlarge the speaker makes rather a lot of noise. Senseless violence Throughout the entire complex, there are no signs or logos other than those of the Conference. This even includes the billboards in the toilets. This conference costs a fortune in audiovisual technology and signage, but the facilities are crucial! If one percent of participants find something unclear, there will be lines of people at the information desk .... And just as I write this, something amusing goes wrong. A speaker talks too far from the microphone so the sound engineer has to turn up the amplifier. This leads to a howling sound so that the speaker pushes the microphone even further away. That’s exactly the wrong thing to do. Because if he would talk more into the microphone, there would not be any problem at all. Unfortunately, the muddle continues with this unintelligible person. Nobody walks up to him to tell him what to do. I, of course, wouldn’t dream of doing it ..... a typical case of the bystander effect. Together with his overcrowded and unreadable slides, this turns into a half an hour of senseless violence for hundreds of people. The weakest links in these types of otherwise perfect conferences
are still the speakers, with their lack of presentation skills. Time to send them to training sessions. A sixty thousand euro gadget I did not see anyone hold his poke up to anyone else’s. At the exhibition the next day, I do see some people use their sticks to download exhibitors’ documentation. You then also leave them your contact information. In the main hall, I meet the developer of Poken. He says that it is an experiment for EASL. It has to be a success, because they cost no less than six euros each. Times 10,000.... The ILC app is very useful. You can very quickly find something by day, venue, theme or name. I have stopped using in my paper guide booklet. This is now where you see the power of annual conferences. You can easily invest in perfection and innovation. After all,you know how many people are coming, you know how much you can expect in revenue, which subjects require the largest halls and where to place your energy for the satisfaction of the participants. Boxed lunch with hummus Around 1:15 pm, the boxed lunches are ready, and the masses tuck into them with obvious relish when the covers are removed. For those who have been here since 8:00 am, breakfast was a long time ago. The boxed lunch has, among other things, two bread rolls, one with a thick layer of turkey. The vegetarian Indians sitting next to me, who are here with 65 fellow countrymen, don’t eat that. But there is alsocarrot and kohlrabi with hummus, plus a container of fresh fruit. This is certainly responsible food for my liver! I do miss something warm, a croquette or something..... There are not enough chairs so everyone plops down somewhere with his boxed lunch. There is a bottle of water included,
Facts & figures _ + 10.000 Delegates Abstracts Send 2.665 Accepted 1.449 Lectures 290 Posters 1.259 Exhibitors 60 Congress fee EASL-members € 1,500 Young Scientists € 200 Non-members € 710 http://ow.ly/kFwHP
and coffee or tea afterwards. No dairy products at all. For a brief period, it’s a messy everywhere but an hour after lunch, all the boxes and plastic disposables have been neatly and discreetly cleared away. Hours reporting desk In the central hall, my eye falls on a screen with bar code scanner: participants who must have proof of presence every hour to earn points for education or strict bosses, can scan their badges here. An email to themselves then provides the necessary evidence that they are not strolling along the canals. I’ve seen quite a few people use it. The second day On Thursday morning, it is still quiet at 9:00 am in the main hall. But in Hall 11 (Elicium 2) alone, it appears that there are then 1500 people attending a basic seminar on ‘Immunology and the liver.’ A hostess pushes an evaluation form at me on which, using a four-point scale, I can assess the speakers according to content, presentation and relevance:
‘Those thick curtains have been ‘hung over the air vents!’ poor, adequate, good or excellent. I do not feel competent to assess two of the three aspects, so I don’t fill in anything. I see that few people do, anyway. It is my experience that the response rates dramatically collapse as the group size increases. ‘What kind of influence does my opinion have now’, everybody thinks. But statistically, ten percent is enough for a clear judgment here. 300 posters per day It is getting busy in the hall with the poster panels. The posters are being photographed left and right. Next to a few posters, there is a sales person giving explanations, collecting addresses with the pokers and passing out A3 copies of the poster. Further on, there are twelve screens on which e-posters can also be seen. Many people download the information via the corresponding QR codes. In the spacious, bright and nicely furnished expo, pharmaceutical companies and research institutes present themselves. Why is it so crowded at the Hepa-Merz stand? That’s just an ordinary pharmacist? I see it now: After handing in your address in a simple quiz, you get a USB hub as a gift, a sort of distribution plug. The participants are are all greedily in line. People will try anything..... At the coffee stands, you can get chocolate croissants, but there are no napkins. There are hot traysplaced between the stands. So today we get a hot lunch! Behind the curtains I take one last look in Hall 1 where about two and a half thousand people are following a parallel session. The air here is rather musty and stale, even though I can hear the ventilation system going at full blast. I have a chat with the sound engineer at ACS, the AV company that apparently handles the large medical congresses throughout Europe. “What is the strength of ACS”, I ask. To
my surprise, the answer is not the technology, the price or the people, but the furnishing of the hall, in three days they hang up thousands of square meters of sound-insulating curtains. He wants to show me some construction pictures of this hall on Facebook, but notes that the Wi-Fi with so many people ‘is a bit slow’. We will then just have to use 3G. I ask him what the most difficult thing was for him. “That is the moment when the hall is full of people for the first time and the first speaker starts to talk”, he replies. Only then can I really start balancing the sound with the equalizers, amplifiers and delays. “The insulating value of clothes is actually enormous ....” Finally, I ask him if he also finds the air here is so stale. His answer is simple: “That sounds about right, those thick curtains have been hung over the air vents!” Housewives Lunchtime. The buffets at the expo will open in phases. But that does not work as well as it should because, after half an hour, everything is gone in the front hall and, at the back, there are hundreds of dishes that are still untouched. There may be participants who wrongly complain about empty dishes. How do you move people without a sound system and hostesses to guide the masses to another hidden part of the hall? I guess you don’t.... On the menu: Surinamese chicken curry, fried fish, rice, ricotta tortellini with tomatoes, green salad, hot bean mix, fresh fruit compote and a petit-four. This is a fairly predictable conference meal. The proverbial ‘God-damned chicken’. Certainly no haute cuisine. The lunches must be eaten standing up because there is obviously no place to seat 10,000 people at the expo. By the way, I have seen no security or access control. Is that why, at lunch,
there are several people without a badge– housewife types with shopping bags – getting a biteto eat? Weak opening After lunch, the general opening of the conference starts in Hall 1. I expect some kind of spectacle. But what happens? 4,500 spectators are greeted by the General Secretary of EASL in an extremely boring and anemic (sic) welcome. What a shame, what a missed opportunity to create a feeling of fellowship. No hint of enthusiasm about ‘how we can literally make the world and our fellow men a little better together,’ or something like that. Even worse is that the first keynote speaker does not have a visionary presentation, no trend or discussion of future expectations, but simply a case study, complete with tables and graphs. OK, I’m sure it’s quite a success story, but is that not what a key-note speech is all about? I immediately log onto Twitter to see if that women is not immediately being written off by the press or the public. Not at all. This group does not use Twitter very much, anyway. Half of the, perhaps, 30 tweets in two days are from an Irish swimming club with the same hash tag # ILC2013! Please, no liver I walk back to the press center. Almost all of the workplaces are occupied.It is too warm there. The air conditioning here is now insufficient and there are no more bottles of water. So, even in the RAI, which I regard so highly, there are still some small issues that could be worked on. It’s half past two and I am going to call it a day. Back home, I process the impressions of this well-organised conference, with its incomprehensible speakers. I’m optimistic, although for the time being, I do not want any liver on the menu. ≈
Searching for the lowest VAT load
BY Edwin Nunnink, Editor in Chief Conference Holland
More often than not, the organisers set up a foundation to organise an international conference. People mistakenly believe this means they no longer have to pay VAT. Joyce Westerveld and Vincent Dielwart from KPMG Meijburg & Co brought their audience at the Associatie Symposium Rotterdam, organised by Rotterdam Marketing on 7 March in the Onderwijscentrum Erasmus MC, back to reality. The obligation to pay tax (entrepreneurship) is worded very broadly. It applies to every business and to anyone who works independently. The legal form and lack of profit motive do not matter. Not even the place of business has any role to play. That means an association located in Brussels and a Japanese business organising a conference in the Netherlands have the same obligation to pay VAT. VAT business The nature and number of services and goods involved, the duration and frequency of the activities, the number of customers, the total of the proceeds, and adherence to customary economic activities all play a role in assessing whether something is a business or not. If the
business does not meet all the above mentioned factors, then it might not be considered a business. Using these values, you can see that a two-day conference with paying participants must pay VAT. A subsidised gathering does not. Being an entrepreneur that has to pay VAT isn’t necessarily a disadvantage. If
you are obligated to pay VAT, you have the option of claiming back the VAT on expenses and investments. This is an advantage in some cases, for example if you can apply the lower VAT rate of 6%. Plus, as crazy as this sounds, VAT exemption can be a disadvantage. You no longer owe VAT, but you cannot claim back any VAT on expenses and investments. It is therefore always a good idea to find out the best way to create the lowest possible VAT load. The conference organiser will always need to keep a good eye on the paper work. Invoicing is mandatory in a number of cases, and those invoices need to contain certain information.
There is a reason VAT is nicknamed ‘the hidden tax’. VAT is an invisible tax, hidden within the price of products and services. VAT regulations are complex and the consequences of VAT levy are often hard to understand. A conference can lose a lot of money if the organisers forget to pay VAT and it is later claimed.
Participant point of departure When searching for the lowest VAT load, Westerveld and Dielwart always take the entire chain from product suppliers and service providers to the conference organisers to the participants, into consideration. Their point of departure here is the conference participant. If the participant is obligated to pay VAT, there is no reason not to charge the VAT on, as they can claim the VAT back. However, it is not always immediately obvious how a foreign participant can claim the tax back. Americans, for example, find the whole idea of VAT difficult to understand. The situation changes when the participant is exempt from paying VAT, as they cannot claim it back and so they themselves must cover the VAT expense. This applies for example to people and institutions in the medical sector. In this instance, you might want to look at classifying their participation as ‘training’. If you can, then they may apply for VAT exemption, but the organising body must be registered in the Central Register for Short-term Professional Training (CRKBO). CRKBO registration does cost money - the first year costs 100 Euros in application fees + 150 Euros for the annual contribution; thereafter 75 Euros a year - and an audit, which costs 900 Euros, is performed. Generally speaking, if the participant does not have to pay VAT, because they are a medical specialist, for example,
look for the lowest possible VAT load in the chain, while looking for as many opportunities to apply a VAT exemption as possible. Refrigerator manufacturer participants, for example, are interested in passing on the VAT as best they can. Divide the package deal up Organising a conference, or more correctly providing participants with access to the conference, is at its core an activity where the participant fee is charged at the higher rate of 21%. By not offering conference participation as a complete package but as a combination of various stand-alone products and services, parts of it can perhaps be charged at the lower rate of 6% and some sections may even be eligible for VAT exemption. Hotel stays and travel falls under the lower rate of 6%, as do non-alcoholic beverages, package deals, and meeting packages as independent components of the conference programme. Brochures and programmes charged at the standard rate of 21% can be charged at the 6% rate, if they can be classified as a book (a large number of pages, for example) or periodical (frequent publishing dates). When organising a conference, it can be a good idea to offer international exhibitors a participation package deal. VAT levies on renting stands is particularly complex and depends entirely on the situation - for example, are the participants only letting space, or are they also having a stand built or hiring
additional services? It’s therefore a good idea to check the impact of these actions in advance. Speaker exemption There is a VAT exemption available for accessing conferences or seminars that promote science or general development. The exemption only applies if the conference is organised by a public corporation, foundation, or association. If a conference can apply this exemption, then speakers can apply for VAT exemption. If they apply for the exemption, they may only receive an expense allowance. Dielwart warns, however, that bartering from a VAT point of view is quite dangerous. The exchange could be subject to different VAT rates or a combination of different VAT payment obligations. European jungle The Netherlands makes it difficult to see the forest for the trees, and it’s a jungle out there at the European level. The EU does have a VAT directive, but when it comes down to it, there are ultimately 27 different VAT legislations, Southern Europe has special programmes you must use to pay VAT and you will have stiff fines to pay if the Tax and Customs Administration thinks you have misapplied the rules. Even Dutch VAT experts like Westerveld and Dielwart need to call on expert services in that particular country. ≈
Jaap Westerhuijs leaves Groningen Congres Bureau
‘What’s dropped on one side is added on the other’ Well over 350 people visited last April 16th the Groninger Museum reception hall to personally say their goodbyes. The man who irrevocably put the city of Groningen on the international conference map will retire on 1 July 2013. Jaap Westerhuijs will speak as the Groningen Congres Bureau director one final time. by Judith Munster, senior editor Conference Holland
Anyone having organised or attended a conference in Groningen in the last seventeen years will know him, this friendly figure with his black glasses and grey do. The man who put his heart and soul into having the city and province of Groningen become the premier place to host international conferences. His achievements are legion. Before he appeared, Groningen annually hosted some eighteen conferences, a number that rose quickly after he became director. The year 2000 would be the highlight, as the city hosted 75 longer international conferences. Ever since then, between 55 to 65 international conferences have on average been held each year. A striking amount for a city and province situated over two hundred kilometres from Amsterdam. Own revenue In the mid 90s, Jaap Westerhuijs was asked to found the Groningen Congres Bureau (GCB) by the municipality, the province, the university and the Dutch trade association for the hotel and catering industry. These ‘founding fathers’ would provide financial support to its budget for four years.
Westerhuijs accepted this commission, placing the condition that the GCB would be allowed to display itself as a PCO. “I considered the GCB being able to generate its own revenue to be essential. Subsidy grants tend to run for a few years only and you have to have some form of income to fall back on. The PCO department is fully self-supportive by now, its revenue overflow being returned to marketing. The founding fathers still contribute to the marketing activities, as such is and will remain a governmental and university task.” Focus and policy “The city and the province had everything required to be able to host large international conferences,” Westerhuijs said about the early days. “What was lacking were focus and policy.” “So I naturally went first to the nine hundred scientists working at the University of Groningen. All these professors have links to associations, and all those associations regularly hold conferences. I made it into my mission to get these professors to have the conference of ‘their’ association be held in Groningen.” “The initial reactions were of the ‘You can-
Curriculum 1963 – 1966 Hotelschool Amsterdam 1966 – 1970 Ship’s steward / purser at cruise ships 1970 – 1972 Military Service 1972 – 1980 Director Sales and Marketing at Grand Metropolitan Hotels - Amstel, Victoria en American Hotel in Amsterdam 1980 – 1983 Manager MeetingsConventions- and Incentive Department at Netherlandss Board of Tourism and Conventions 1983 – 1985 Project manager at RAI Convention and Exhibition Centre 1985 – 1988 Director of Sales and Marketing at Trust House Forte Apollo Hotel Amsterdam 1988 – 1992 Director of Sales and Marketing at Hotels van Oranje in Noordwijk 1992 – 1995 Director at Top of Holland, bringing international tourism to the Dutch provinces Groningen, Drenthe and Friesland 1996 – 2013 Director at Groningen Convention Bureau
not get people used to Seoul or Paris to come to Groningen, can you?’ It appeared these professors did not know their own city and province as well as I thought they would.” “This led me to draft a Trade Manual, an overview listing all conference facilities, hotels and suppliers. It turned out to be
Photograph: Eunice Lieveld
Jaap Westerhuijs: “The city and the province had everything required to be able to
Tips Which tips can Westerhuijs provide to professors wishing to have a conference be held in their own country? “The first step is to notify the board of the association that you would like to nominate your university or city as a host. Next, it is important to start cooperating with a recognised convention bureau at an early stage, so it can help you drafting and presenting the bidbook. To check up on the history of specific conferences, I would advise you look on the websites of the Union International des Associations and the ICCA. Those are the most important gives I am able to provide.”
host large international conferences. What was lacking were focus and policy”
a sizeable tome, which was re-published seven times over the years and which managed to convince many scientists and international associations to consider Groningen a suitable site to host conferences.” Ambassadors’ society In cooperation with two professors who had managed to get multiple conferences to be held in Groningen, Westerhuijs next planned to found a private society of ambassadors and advisers. This became the Ubbo Emmius Colleghie, named after the University of Groningen’s first rector.
Westerhuijs: “By 2013, the Ubbo Emmius Colleghie has turned into a venerable society of over a hundred members. Only someone able to get an international conference to be hosted in Groningen can become a member. The inauguration into the society is performed by the Queen’s Commissioner, the Mayor of Groningen or the University Rector. Membership lasts five years. They need to organise another conference, or cause it to be organised, within these five years, or have their membership revoked. In other words, members need to remain active, and they are happy to remain thus: noone wants to say goodbye to being part of this special circle.”
Mind at ease It is with his mind at ease that Westerhuijs says his goodbyes to the international conference industry. “Transfer of knowledge will always take place, no matter the state of the economy. Associations hold their conferences at fixed intervals and will not deviate from their schedules. Not now, and not in twenty years. Some conferences have lost a day in length. And where any organisation would send four people to attend the conference, now there may be only three. But these are no appreciable differences. Having worked in the international conference industry for years now, I can say this with confidence: What’s dropped on one side is added on the other.” ≈
Four cornerstones There is no doubt as to the success of Groningen as a conference town, and Westerhuijs believes this success is based on four cornerstones. “First of all, prices and rates up here are 25 to 30 per cent lower than they are in the western part of Holland. Second, the University of Groningen, with its fourteen faculties, is the second-largest university in the country. The University Medical Centre Groningen (UMCG) is the largest academic hospital in the Netherlands and has its own conference area, with halls hosting up to 450 guests. In addition, Groningen is a small, compact town. Visitors to a conference meet each other everywhere in the historic inner city. Moreover, it is a student town, filled to the brim with nice restaurants and cafés. Finally, Groningen can be easily reached from Scandinavia, Denmark, Germany and Eastern Europe. And Groningen is at only two and a half hours travel by train removed from Schiphol Airport.”
Into the Heart of Meetings
What meetings can really accomplish Basic Principles of Meeting Design. While the topic may suggest we are dealing with outward appearances and some basic rules of thumb, the fact that we actually want to address the heart of the matter is evidenced by the very title of the book: Into the Heart of Meetings. Eric de Groot and Mike van der Vijver have written an in-depth treatise by considering the science of communication and human interaction to be the foundation of organising meetings. by Edwin Nunnink, Editor in Chief Conference Holland
Both authors have some twenty years of hands-on experience with the matter, having attended some 2,500 meetings all over the world in a variety of roles: they have been participants, translators, speakers, actors and – naturally – meeting designers. As such, they have been able to provide many examples of how the basic principles covered in the book are actually translated in practice. In addition, the two writers know all too well what their critics – those who think the standard meeting model cannot
be improved in any way – advance to counter their views. They respond to such criticism in a novel way by entering into discussion with such a critic at the end of every chapter. How do circumstances and physical contact affect our brain and our behaviour? What influence do cultural differences have on communication? How important is it to make use of general knowledge? In Part One of the book, de Groot and van der Vijver lay the foundation of their argument, by unveiling the principal factors influencing the final result of a meeting. In so doing, they point out the special characteristics of meetings as a means of communication, a subject highlighted in the final section, called ‘The Magic of Meetings’.
Identity of the owner At that point, we’ve already reached the halfway point of this book of well over three hundred pages and come to Part Two, which has the authors discussing the goal of any meeting. The participants and guests to a meeting base their view of the identity of the ‘owner’ of the meeting by what occurs during it. As such, meetings are a premier instrument to ensure they come to have a certain view, or come to hold it more strongly. The
meeting designers next guide the reader in properly formulating a goal. Like in the rest of the book, in this section, too, de Groot and van der Vijver do not simply list a number of do’s and dont’s. While narrating, they identify all factors at play and how one can look at each of them. They continue this approach in Part Three, which covers the actual organisation of the meeting. This mix of theory, examples from their own experience and final discussion with critics turn the book into a truly educational volume, allowing the reader to get a more in-depth acquaintance with the principles of meeting design in an enjoyable manner. ≈
Facts & figures Into the Heart of Meetings, by Eric de Groot and Mike van der Vijver, can be ordered on amazon.com. The book, of well over 300 pages, is offered at approximately €20. The Kindle Edition at €11. http://ow.ly/kvU7x
34 Nicolette van Erven is CEO at Congress by Design a Dutch IAPCO member. Congress by design is an independent PCO serving a wide range of organizations, including universities, corporations, associations and governmental agencies. email@example.com
FOR ASSOCIATION MEETINGS coming to The Netherlands
4 important points to consider If your association is considering or has decided to bring one of its future meeting to The Netherlands, you must already be aware of what The Netherlands have to offer: BY Nicolette van Erven
This is all very nice to know, but how do you make it work for your association meeting in The Netherlands? How do you make sure that all potential benefits the country offers are used to the advantage of your event? Here are four important points to consider.
isit the websites of the V Netherlands Bureau for Tourism and Conventions: www.nbtc.nl/en & www.holland.com These websites provide extensive information and a very useful start of your journey to The Netherlands. Browse the website and get convinced that you have made the right choice to select The Netherlands for your next association meeting. Identify possible suppliers, venues, accommodations, transport options, and start shaping your meeting concept.
Identify an experienced PCO Consider contracting a PCO based in The Netherlands as your local foothold early on, a PCO that knows the country, its mentality, culture, infrastructure, meeting venues, hotels, suppliers, local sources of funding, national
regulations, key people, … You will recognize a PCO that is qualified to support international congresses by its membership of IAPCO, the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (www.iapco. org). Consult the IAPCO member list (under “Who we are”) to find Dutch IAPCO member PCOs. Even if your association has its own in-house PCO or meeting planning department, it may still be beneficial to contract a local PCO to help your organization benefit optimally from all local facilities and support available.
The Netherlands was established and now a center of biotechnology. And there are more: Delft, Groningen, Maastricht, just to name a few, and almost all with convenient rail connections with Schiphol international airport. For almost every theme a city can be found that offers a strong local or national homebase: water management, life sciences, sustainability, medical research, art, music, …through one of the universities, medical schools, construction companies, financial institutions, …
Start thinking about the best hosting city for your meeting Although Amsterdam will immediately come to mind when it comes to organizing meetings in The Netherlands, there are many more exciting hosting cities, each with its own character and special features. Why not consider Rotterdam, one of the world’s largest seaports and a center of information technology, The Hague, the city of justice and home of the government, Utrecht, a city of science and culture and host of one of the country’s best universities, or Leiden, where the first university of
Start thinking about funding early on The Netherlands Bureau for Tourism and Conventions offers funding support for international scientific meetings held in The Netherlands through its Prefinancing and Garantee Fund. But there are more potential sources of funding and support, e.g. subsidies provided by city convention bureaus, welcome receptions and city tours offered or facilitated by hosting cities, non-profit organizations providing grants to meetings within their areas of interest. ≈
“I sketch that abrasive reality”
Sustainability Icon, Jan Rotmans, inspires, pushes and pulls De Volkskrant described him as ‘quite a brilliant visionary’ and ‘an indestructible optimist.’ Nevertheless, Jan Rotmans is worried about our world: “I see my optimism as a moral obligation. The Netherlands has to be truly sustainable in twenty years.” By jos goossens, contributing editor
How did you become a speaker? “It’s something I have always been able to do, because really speaking well, that is something you cannot learn. You need to be able to touch people and what is neccessary for that is passion. In primary school, the other kids gave oral reports about bunnies, while I came in with Stalin and Hitler. It drove the teachers crazy because I bullied them. I wrote fake letters to ministries and embassies,
Dutch godfather Jan Rotmans (51) is the Dutch godfather of sustainable thinking. More than two hundred scientific publications, twenty books and a worldwide climate model, IMAGE (including in the climate negotiations for the Kyoto Protocol) are just some of his achievements. Jan Rotmans has founded two research institutes, ICIS in Maastricht (1998), and DRIFT in Rotterdam (2004), which focus on sustainable transitions. On stage, his ‘socially driven science’ guarantees boundless energy, passion and insights that incite to action.
saying that I was a teacher and wanted information about a theme or a country. Once, I even ordered a whole truckload of teaching modules from the Canadian Embassy; Van Gend en Loos delivered them to me at home. My mother me take them to school myself. I was lugging boxes for a whole day. Everyone looked at them with amazement. Even as a young boy, I wanted to change the world. “ When you are standing on a stage, do you have one message? “I never tell the same story twice. I think I’m the only professional speaker in the Netherlands you can say that about. Every context and time requires different content. However, when you’re talking about sustainability, there are overlaps. You see in all sectors, from the care sector to the financial world, that they focus on the short term: high efficiency, preferably right now. There is a lack of vision. Organisations become stuck in a certain direction and are judged by ‘traditional values’, such as efficiency and profitability. An increasing number of people want to escape from the stranglehold. We find other values important, as well: quality, space, well-being, the human dimension.
Those old system values clash with human values. I sketch that abrasive reality and show how it can be different. “ What is your specialty? “I have the power of persuasion.” Anyone who hears me speak will not soon forget it. On stage, I use all my passion and energy, and that can be penetrating; it does something to the people. They feel that they need to take action: sometimes it keeps them from sleeping. Sometimes I must also hurt organisations. If I tell the real estate sector that their crisis is going to last at least five to ten years, that does not create an immediate round of applause. But I expose what needs to change. And that shakes people up. I am also an fierce optimist. Every day, I see reasons to be concerned about the world, but I never stoop to finger-pointing. I like to see myself as a master in the art of living, that means that you enjoy everything you do. That, too, you can see on stage.” What is your worst experience as a speaker? “My first lectures were dramatically terrible. They were too long and incomprehensible to the public. I also wanted to shock people. I have experienced that, after one of my lectures, there were only five of the fifty people left in the room. I was uninhibited, unpolished and stepped on everyone’s toes. “ “The five sympathizers spoke seriously to me: “Jan, you’ve got talent, but if you antagonize everyone, it won’t help you.”
If I had continued in that direction, I would have had a small audience forever. I learned from gigs in pubs, small rooms, even in a meadow among the cows. “ “I’ve been through a lot, even, that my first overhead sheet went up in smoke on the overhead projector. Once, I had the hiccups on stage in Belgium and that was amplified through all the speakers; the audience was in stitches. In short, I learned the trade in practice. And that shaped me. You live and learn. “ What is your passion? “What I do is what I am. That is my strength. That’s why my performances are completely natural. I’ve always said: I want to see how I can make the world more sustainable. Or find out why you cannot, why it does not work. For it sometimes seems impossible.” “I decided to use all my strength to do what I can. Preferably in the neighborhood: in my own country, in my own city, in my own street. The first ten years I worked globally, but that changed when I had children. Now, I am slowly getting the itch again to spread my message globally. In New York, when I worked for the United Nations, I had the feeling that I was at the epicenter. I had that less in Maastricht. “ Have you recently been surprised about anything? “When I started, sustainability was something the government did. I walked around on ministries in The Hague every day and we asked ourselves: how do we get those companies involved?” “Now it’s the other way around. Companies ask me how they can convince the government. This revolution took place over a period of 25 years, but I watched it with amazement. It is precisely when you are at the cradle of something that you
Jan rotmans: “I never tell the same story twice. I think I’m the only professional speaker in the Netherlands you can say that about.”
notice it. Other people cannot imagine that: it’s a bit like trying to explain to your son that Ajax was once the best football club of Europe.” “The nice thing about the sustainability turnaround is that the power now comes from the bottom up through society.
People are increasingly taking their own initiatives and the government does not only control it from the top. I could never have imagined that I would be speaking about sustainability in football stadiums or at Lowlands.” ≈
According to Soons
38 Ton Soons is a trainer and advisor in texts, presentations, and conferences. Up until 2004 at Euroforum, he organised more than 250 conferences and courses. After that he started his company Winning Words Communication. Ton often leads conferences, interviews and discussions and he organises speaker training courses for conference agencies. In 2012, Ton Soons published the Handbook for the Conference Developer. firstname.lastname@example.org
If sponsors want to give a lecture BY Ton Soons
Hooray, a sponsor! “Hooray, XYZ Enterprise wants to sponsor our conference, and it even wants to be the head sponsor! But .... in exchange, they also want to give a lecture. “ Hmm, you are slightly less than enthusiastic about that. This is because you know that your audience is not waiting for a sales pitch. How do you solve this problem? It is not that easy It is NOT enough to say: “If the public gets to attend our conference free of charge, it should not whine and simply take the advertising for granted. And if we DO ask for an entrance fee for the conference, the content has to be independent and therefore NOT from commercial providers.” Why is it not that simple? The reason lies in the complexity of what the public appreciates and accepts. This is even true if the participants don’t have to pay but are willing to offer their time to be present. Amuse and inform The audience always accepts presentations from anyone who is able to amuse, inspire or touch them. You can always ask a sponsor to do this. But, by doing this, the sponsor does
not display any of his products or expertise. So let’s zoom in on the other, more substantive contributions. In those cases, listeners also accept presentations by commercial providers if they actually help them to make better choices or better decisions in their work or in their lives. These could include, for example making the public aware of issues which it was previously NOT aware of: insights, backgrounds, relationships, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, dilemmas. Or, if the speaker gives advice that helps the listener make a better choice out of what is being offered commercially: tips, warnings, recommendations and referrals. Control of the content It is important to monitor what the sponsor is presenting, in order to avoid it becoming a sales pitch. Here are my suggestions for keeping control of the content: 1. Let the sponsor provide a client to do the speaking. This client will, of course, be selected for satisfaction, but that client will never tell an implausible story of jubilation that stretches the truth. Such case studies are usually highly appreciated.
2. Let the sponsor to be interviewed, so the interviewer, as a public ambassador, it has control of the situation. He can ask for views and opinions and cut short any sales pitches. Or, he can go deeper into one-sided subjects just by asking. 3. Have the sponsor sit in on a panel discussion with other, critical, people, such as competitors, independent consultants or users. 4. Let the sponsor – if it is a market leader, an opinion leader or a leader in experience – give a lecture in the main programme, but not by a marketing or sales person. Make sure that the General Manager, a Director of Strategy or the Director of Research & Development gives the lecture. 5. Let the sponsor give a presentation in a parallel session outside the main program, for example, during the breakfast or lunch period. In Conclusion Be the ambassador for your participants. Convince your sponsors that the dissatisfaction of the audience also reflects negatively on them. Good luck with XYZ Enterprise! ≈
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Dynamic and continuously in development The port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe and one of the five largest ports in the world. You can safely say that the world is constantly visiting here.
s ‘true’ dockworkers, Rotterdammers are doers. They are down to earth in nature and tireless in their dedication. With this same energy, the city has been a running an active events policy for decades. Rotterdam has already been named Event City of the Year several times. In 2006, the organisers of the internationally renowned North Sea Jazz Festival moved from their venue from
Facts & figures Largest auditorium (seats) De Doelen 1,755 Number of hotel rooms (total) 3,966 Largest hotel (rooms) Inntel Hotels Rotterdam Centre + Mainport Hotel 480 Distance to Amsterdam Schiphol (km) 60 Regional Airport (km) Rotterdam The Hague 8 http://ow.ly/kIyr1
The Hague to Rotterdam. Energetic efforts by the city were successful in hijacking the Dutch stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race right out under the noses of Amsterdam. And, for the fortieth time, the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament – part of the ATP World Tour – was held this year in Ahoy Rotterdam. Through the Rotterdam Marketing Foundation, the city runs the same proactive policy for conferences and business events. This is a policy that, time and again, continues to be embraced by each new city council and each new mayor. They see international gatherings and personal meetings as a key driver for this rapidly developing dynamic metropolis. This is one of the reasons why Rotterdam is the second conference city in the Netherlands. Medical and creative The world port is not the only reason why business visitors travel to Rotterdam. For example, the Erasmus Medical Center is highly regarded for its medical research. Fundamental research is done here in the fields of Genetics and Cell Biology, Neuroscience, Health Sciences, Cardiovascular Disease and Molecular
Medicine. Clinical research is being done in the fields of Oncology, Cardiovascular disease, infectious and inflammatory processes, Endocrine diseases, Gastroenterology and Hepatology. In addition, a whole new creative stronghold has originated in the old city harbor. Rotterdam also leads the way in the culinary revival that the Netherlands has been going through over the past decade. And, the ever-changing imposing skyline reveals another area of expertise: architecture. Once again, a landmark was added this year. ‘De Rotterdam’ consists of three transparent towers 150 meters high, which include offices, apartments and a NH design hotel (NHOW Rotterdam, 285 rooms) as well as approximately 2,000 m2 of conference space, on a pedestal of cafes, restaurants, a hotel, sports clubs and beautiful entrances. This ‘vertical city’ is a design by the internationally renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. There is no lack of extraordinary locations. Modern, cultural, classical, industrial, design ..., within each type, there are many locations to choose from. Restored flagship And then, since 2010, there is the ss Rotterdam. The former luxury flagship of the Holland America Line was restored to its original glory and now serves as a
Photographs: Rotterdam image bank
conference center. It no longer sails but, located on the old quay in the city center, the ss Rotterdam offers a beautiful view of the skyline and the Maas river. The convention center has an auditorium for 500 people, a number of authentic breakout rooms, 16 meeting rooms and two original lounge areas for, for example, receiving guests. There is also the Glass Enclosed Promenade, which offers an original space for, for example, exhibitions. Moreover, the ss Rotterdam houses a hotel with 254 rooms. Various large convention centres Rotterdam has a number of major conference venues. To start with, there is Ahoy, which features a conference centre with a capacity for 500 people, 30,000 m2 of exhibition halls and the Sports Palace [Sportpaleis] with a flexible capacity ranging from 3,000 to more than 10,000 people. Right in the heart of the city is De Doelen concert and conference centre. The site consists of three, disconnected, individual complexes, grouped around three large halls with 1,755, 700 and 465 seats, respectively. Each complex has its own entrance, a plenary hall, spacious foyers and auxiliary areas. Via a covered sky bridge, the building is connected to the five-star Manhattan Hotel with 231 rooms. Also located in the city are the New Luxor Theatre, with an auditorium for
1,535 participants, and the Beurs-WTC Congress Center, with a main hall for 1,000 people and 37 different breakout and workshop areas. New hotels There is a capacity in the city of 4,250 hotel beds and, in the region as a whole, that makes a total of 5,500 hotel beds. Inntel Hotels Rotterdam Centre is the largest hotel in Rotterdam, with 265 rooms and 9 conference rooms, including the Panorama Room on the 16th floor. In May 2013, Mainport by Inntel Hotels opened, a five star hotel with 215 luxurious rooms and suites connected with the Inntel Hotels Rotterdam Centre and the Holiday Inn Express with 214 rooms. In the city center, one can also find the other major hotels: the recently fully renovated Hilton Rotterdam (254 rooms), NH Atlanta Hotel (215 rooms) and the Bilderberg Park hotel (189 rooms). Rotterdam Conference Kit This year, specifically for international conference organisers, Rotterdam Marketing has developed a digital Rotterdam Conference Kit.’ This English-language publication provides all relevant and current information about Rotterdam as a conference city. The Rotterdam Conference Kit consists of three parts. Conference Tools provides an overview of the services Rotterdam Marketing provides to the conference organi-
sers. This includes the Pre-financing and Guarantee Fund, as well as the discounts by international airlines. Destination Information provides information about the destination, such as the international accessibility, public transport, language, holidays, currency, attractions and the activities calendar. Promotional Tools offers a complete overview of available promotional materials such as photographs and film footage of Rotterdam, the Rotterdam App, the Rotterdam Welcome Card and various leaflets for the conference bags, such as the city map and the guide ‘Dining in Rotterdam.’ ≈
Cradle of European diplomacy The Hague is the seat of the Dutch government and parliament. For that reason, the political center of the Netherlands is the home of most of the embassies and consulates – 104 to be exact – and more than 150 international organisations.
n addition, The Hague is the international city of peace and security. It can safely be called a time-honored tradition. Centuries ago, European diplomats met each other on the Voorhout and, in 1899, the first Peace Conference was held in The Hague. The ICC and the ICTY have, in recent years, had the eyes of the world focused on them, but surrounding them are regular international conferences and political and international companies often choose this city to solve legal disputes.
Facts & figures Largest auditorium (seats) World Forum 2,000 Number of hotel rooms (total) 9,042 Largest hotel (rooms) Bel Air Hotel 313 Distance to Amsterdam Schiphol (km) 45 Regional Airport (km) Rotterdam The Hague 20 http://ow.ly/kDwTR
Peace Palace The ‘pictorial trademark’ of this international status is the Peace Palace, dating from 1913; it is also the most photographed monument in The Hague. This houses the International Court of Justice (the principal judicial organ of the United Nations), the Permanent Court of Arbitration, a prestigious library and the Hague Academy of International Law, where, every year, hundreds of law students from around the world come to follow courses. The Hague can, without a doubt, be called the city of diplomacy. And that also means that service establishments know how to treat guests in a welcoming and prudent manner. It is no coincidence the Protocol Office is located in this city and that the Hotel School of The Hague is internationally acclaimed. Visually, The Hague – the city of diplomats – is characterised by imposing avenues, with many stately buildings scattered throughout the city The 70,000 trees along the avenues make it a remarkably green city. World Forum The largest conference venue in the city is the World Forum. The site comprises
27 rooms and features a theater with 2,000 seats. During the International Conference on Afghanistan in 2009, this hall was converted into a ground floor conference room, a metamorphosis that will also be used for The World Justice Forum in July 2013. The World Justice Forum is the world’s most important conference in the field of law, with about six hundred leaders, dignitaries and innovators gathering from over one hundred countries. They will deal with important issues of rights, such as economic development, technology, women’s rights and freedom of expression. In the immediate vicinity of World Forum there is widely available hotel capacity. There is the adjoining Novotel Den Haag World Forum with 216 rooms and, located immediately behind this, is the Bel Air Hotel with 313 rooms. In total, the Hague offers more than 9,000 hotel rooms, with about 17,000 beds. The city has five five-star hotels and 20 four-star hotels. Theaters and museums Several of the 30 theaters and 45 museums in The Hague offer both a special ambiance to hold a conference and possibilities for a cultural part in the conference program. For example, the Royal Theatre [Koninklijke Schouwburg] is a theater with 670 seats and eight breakout rooms. Diligentia theater has 480 seats and five breakout rooms. And, in the middle of
Photograph: Den Haag Marketing/Jurjen Drenth
Photograph: Den Haag Marketing/Arjan de Jager
No shortage of museums in the city. The three museums that are most often on the wish lists are the Mauritshuis, with its extensive collection of great masters (including the Girl with the Pearl Earing by the painter, Vermeer), the Municipal Museum with many paintings by Piet Mondrian and the intimate Panorama Mesdag, where the only 19th century panorama painting of the Netherlands can be viewed.
the city, there is the combined location Dr. Anton Philips Theater / Lucent Dance Theater with 1,890 and 996 seats in their main halls, respectively. The New Church, located in the same square, forms a welcome addition as, for example, a dinner location.
City by the sea The Hague has a second identity which is that of a seaside city. It boasts 11 kilometers of coastline, a lively promenade and many beach clubs. This setting can be used as the recreational part of a conference in the city, but the seaward side of the Dutch regent city has, itself, a highly developed conference industry. The AFAS Circus theatre offers an auditorium with 1,840 seats and 10 breakout rooms. The seafront Steigenberger Kurhaus Hotel is a leading conference hotel. This five star hotel offers, alongside of 253 rooms, 19 meeting rooms, the largest of which has a seating capacity for 600 persons. Moreover, various chains of business hotels have locations on the coast, such as NH, Carlton and Bilderberg.
University of Technology The Hague is often used as a conference city for neighboring city of Delft. In this small, historic city, you will find the TU Delft (University of Technology), the internationally acclaimed university with several specialised research institutes. They deal with, for example, such fields as computational science and engineering, materials science, mechatronics and microsystems, next generation infrastructures and water (environment, cycles, infrastructure and management). A visit to the university can be combined with a visit to Royal Delft, the only remaining pottery factory from the 17th century that still produces the famous Delft Blue. Convention Bureau Associations and companies which want to organise a conference in the city can come to The Hague Convention & Visitors Bureau for independent advice and a helping hand. These include, for example, support with the bidding procedure, organisation of introductory meetings between potential organisers and providers, tailored advice for facilities, services and social programs and promotional items. â‰ˆ
City of knowledge and culture This year celebrates the 300 year anniversary of the Treaty of Utrecht. In 1713, the city was the host, partner and stage for an international party that decided the future of Europe from behind the negotiating tables instead of on the battlefield.
t renders the position of this two thousand year old city, situated in the province of Utrecht of the same name, constituting the heart of the Netherlands. Known for his cultural value and a logical environment to stimulate dialogue between various cultures. The city’s cultural character is kept alive among others by the more than 65,000 students who populate it. Many festivals and events take place each year, with the Dutch Film Festival and the Festival of Ancient Music as fixed items on the calendar.
Facts & figures Largest auditorium (seats) Beatrix Theatre Number of hotel rooms (total) Largest hotel (rooms) NH Utrecht Distance to Amsterdam Schiphol (km)
1,000 1,500 276 45
Important knowledge institutes Utrecht and surroundings is the location of a number of important knowledge institutes, such as the RIVM (National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection), TNO (the Organization for Applied Scientific Research), KNMI (Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute), SenterNovem (Government Agency for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Innovation), Utrecht University, the University Medical Centre and Utrecht Utrecht University of Applied Sciences. This provides Utrecht with the highest concentration of knowledge services in the Netherlands. Utrecht University is the largest university but one of the country and has seven faculties: Humanities; Law, Economy, Management and Organization; Geo sciences; Medicine; Veterinary sciences; Social Sciences; Sciences. Price-quality ratio The favourable price-quality ratio makes Utrecht an attractive and responsible choice as congress venue compared to other (European) cities. In 2011, for example, Utrecht was elected the most attractive business destination following research by NBTC-NIPO. According to
the NBTC-NIPO, particularly the easy accessibility and the extensive offer of congress and meeting venues contribute to the price-quality ratio of business events in Utrecht. The easy accessibility is linked to the central location of Utrecht at the heart of the Netherlands. This makes it the national ‘hub’ of traffic and transportation. Utrecht is within easy reach of Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and other large cities. Foreign participants of a congress take less than 30 minutes to travel by train or car from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to the centre of Utrecht. From the surrounding countries as well, Utrecht can be excellent reached by train. There are quick and regular connections with Paris and Brussels, and trains coming from Germany and elsewhere in Europe often make stops in Utrecht. National number one Utrecht has traditionally been the national number one city and province for meetings. Consequently, the city and surrounding region boast a large number of modern congress facilities and a large variety of special locations, hotels and restaurants. In addition, many specialised service providers in the field of congress organisation and congress technique are located there. The congress venues with the largest capacity is Jaarbeurs Utrecht congress and exhibition centre (10,000 participants), the former industrial site DeFabrique
Photographs: Utrecht convention bureau
(3,500 participants) and Central Studios (3,500 participants). The largest auditoriums can be found at the Beatrix Theatre, part of the Jaarbeurs-complex (1,000 chairs), Utrecht City Theatre (1,000 chairs) and the Theatron of Utrecht University (500 chairs). Utrecht has about 1,500 hotel rooms 55% of which is located in the city centre. Divided by facility and service level there are 1,121 five star rooms, 872 four star rooms and 334 three star rooms. The largest hotel in town is the NH Utrecht (276 rooms/588 beds), situated at the Jaarbeursplein, followed by Carlton President (164 rooms/ 328 beds). Just outside the city is the Van der Valk Hotel Breukelen (233 rooms / 350 beds). All three are four star hotels. There is no shortage of special locations and possibilities for relaxation, also thanks to the cityâ€™s own cultural background. The museum area, with its many museums, the Dom tower which is more than 600 years old; the highest medieval tower in the Netherlands, and the canals with their yards that run through the city heart, offer a considerable variety at walking distance from each other. Worth mentioning specially is the recently
restored Paushuize, built by Adriaan Floriszoon Boeyens, who would later become the only Pope of Dutch origin (Adrianus VI). Local authorities invest also As of 2012, the local authorities focus more strongly on initiating and hosting international congresses. Various international congresses were already held in Utrecht before that time, but nowadays the city and province of Utrecht also invest in making international congresses a success. This is done among others by granting congress subsidies. There is the bid fund that provides interest-free loans which can be paid back when an event is actually organized in Utrecht. This arrangement is meant, for example, for drawing up a bid book and executing site inspections. Is the event finally not organized in Utrecht? Then, the loan is cancelled and is transformed into a subsidy. In addition, there is the stimulation fund which makes a financial contribution to the congress costs of international congresses. Moreover, the possibilities of other subsidies are pointed out such as, for example, the ones of the Royal Dutch
Academy of Sciences. The central point in above provision of services is the Utrecht Convention Bureau. This organisation provides independent and free advice to people who consider organizing an international congress in Utrecht. â‰ˆ
Bustling knowledge centre Maastricht is, in particular, domestically well known for the exuberant lifestyle of its inhabitants. This results in a rich variety of restaurants (including four with one Michelin star and one with two), cafés and lively terraces. This compact city is attractive for shopping and walking. Its location in the southeast of the country ensures an above-average warm climate. For the tourist, Maastricht is therefore a popular destination.
n addition, the city also serves as a prominent centre of knowledge, partly due to the presence of the renowned Maastricht University, Maastricht University Hospital and twenty international institutions, research institutes and schools. These organisations operate in such areas as economics, employment, medical technology and healthcare, Third
Facts & figures Largest auditorium (seats) MECC 1,650 Number of hotel rooms (total) 4,025 Largest hotel (rooms) NH Maastricht 275 Distance to Amsterdam Schiphol (km) 220 Regional Airport (km) Maastricht-Aachen Airport 14 http://ow.ly/kK56T
World issues, communications, media and languages. Examples are: Maastricht European Research School of Economics of Technology and Organisations (Meteor), The Centre for European Studies (CES), The European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA),The European Centre for Work and Society (ECWS) and the United Nations University - Institute for New Technologies (UNU-Intech). Chemelot and Health Campus The province of South-Limburg, with Maastricht as the capital, is currently developing strongly as a centre of innovation with such new initiatives as Chemelot Industrial Park and the Health Campus. Both are spearheads of Brainport 2020, an investment programme of 2 billion euros for Southeast Netherlands, which includes the provinces of Limburg and Brabant. Chemelot is developing into the location for business, education and research organisations in chemistry and materials: in short, ‘CHEMaterials. A chemical cluster is located in Geleen, near Maas-
tricht where more than one hundred companies and organisations operate and collaborate. Maastricht University fits into this by offering master’s degrees in Bio-based Materials and Systems Biology. In addition, this year the university will start a collaboration with the RheinischWestfaelische Technische Hochschule in Aachen: the Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Bio-based Materials at Chemelot. The spearheads of the Health Campus are Cardiovascular diseases, Metabolic aspects of chronic diseases (including cancer), Public Health & Primary Care and Mental health and neurosciences. There are high expectations for the campus as a driver for new medical conferences. For this purpose, the project “Congress City +’ has been created. The aim is for them to organise more conferences and exhibitions themselves and to work with all partners to bring in existing major medical conferences. In the period 2012-2014, the municipality of Maastricht will contribute € 100,000 per year for the realisation of the project. Conference Ambassadors In 2011, the conference ambassador club, Amici ad Mosam, was established. Members of this club are regional scientists and academics who have organised a conference in Maastricht in the past or plan to do so in the future. In this way, the initiators, MECC Maastricht and Maastricht Convention Bureau, want to create a strong bond between scientists
Photographs: maastricht convention bureau
and the conference industry, which would make it easier to hold international conferences in Maastricht. European status With MECC Maastricht, you immediately have the largest convention accommodation. The exhibition and conference centre provides an auditorium of 1,650 seats, an exhibition foyer of 2,250 m2, thirty rooms and 27,000 m2 of exhibition halls. Here, the major international conventions are held, as well as the annual international art fair, TEFAF, with an average of 70,000 visitors from all over the world traveling to Maastricht to see this. This location and the city are accustomed to receiving large groups of international guests. That was emphasized in 1992 when the European Convention was signed in Maastricht. Maastricht is host to 15% of the international multi-day conferences in Netherlands, including many pharmaceutical conventions and Euro-summits. One of the reasons for Maastrichtâ€™s European status is its location, right at the triangle where the borders of the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium come together. Important airline hubs such as DĂźsseldorf and Brussels are
within a comfortable distance of around 100 kilometers. In addition, the city has its own airport, Maastricht-Aachen Airport, with direct connections to and from various European countries and Amsterdam Schiphol. Additionally, there are train connections to various major cities and capitals in northern Europe. Generous selection The choice of hotels is generous and diverse, especially when you consider that the city has only 120,000 inhabitants. In total, the city offers 4,025 hotel rooms, with 7,944 beds. The largest hotel is the
one located next to the MECC, the NH Maastricht with 275 rooms and 11 multifunctional meeting rooms, followed by the nearby Van der Valk Maastricht with 190 rooms. Moreover, from the MECC you are, with a 10-minute taxi ride, a bus ride of 20 minutes or a 30 minute walk, right in the heart of the city with many other hotels, lively squares, restaurants and cafes and a variety of shops, all of which are surrounded by the historic fortifications of the city. If you are looking for something other than city life, in the surrounding green hills there are sufficient alternatives for overnight stays, incentives and social programs. The mari quarry caves and castles are worth a visit. Intensive cooperation The conference industry in Maastricht has a tradition of close cooperation among all parties. The partners are the university, the MECC, the city and provincial governments, the hotels and the service providers. The spider in the web is the Maastricht Convention Bureau. The specialised staff provide free objective information, advice and mediation in organising conferences and business meetings. â‰ˆ
Region of Brabant
Warm and welcoming Brainport The region of Brabant is centrally located in the Benelux, where the universities of Eindhoven, Tilburg, Wageningen and Leuven (Belgium) play an important role in boosting the knowledge economy.
he Dutch government recognises the importance of the knowledge economy in Southeast Netherlands as one of the most important motors of a strong economy. Brainport 2020 is one of the programmes that has been launched in this region, with an international investment of 2 billion euros. The five largest cities (Breda, Tilburg, Eindhoven, Helmond and ’s-Hertogen-
Facts & figures Largest auditorium (seats) Chassé Theater Breda 1,400 Number of hotel rooms (total Brabant) 10,000 Largest hotel (rooms) NH Conference Centre Koningshof 509 Distance to Amsterdam Schiphol (from ‘s-Hertogenbosch; km) 95 Regional Airport (to ‘s-Hertogenbosch; km) Eindhoven Airport 35 ow.ly/kMFBg
bosch) are spread out over the province and together they make up ‘Brabant city.’ Every part of the province has its own top sectors where research and academic institutes, manufacturing companies and suppliers work together. For West-Brabant, those are Logistics, Maintenance and Bio-based; for the Midpoint, that is Creativity; for North Brabant that is food, AgroFood, Health & Pharma and Southeast Brabant excels in the area of Technology & Design. Brainport Eindhoven is, as ‘Brainport,’ one of the three pillars of economic Netherlands, alongside of Schiphol Airport and Mainport Rotterdam. This region is the primary high-tech industrial heart of our country, with technology and design as the basis. The High Tech Systems & Materials industry is represented in the Southeast Brabant region by internationally operating leading technology companies such as Philips, IBM, ASML and FEI Company, located on the High Tech Campus. In 2011, the Eindhoven region was named, by the Intelligent Community Form, the ‘smartest region in the world,’ partly due to the large number of patent applications.
Medieval city The provincial capital is’ s Hertogenbosch, 40 kilometers from Eindhoven. This city is the administrative, business and cultural heart of Brabant. It is also a vibrant, exuberant city which has been given the title of “most hospitable city in the Netherlands’ for the third year in a row. The medieval city center of ’s-Hertogen bosch is one of the oldest and most complete of the Netherlands. The city is known for its unique churches and museums. Specifically, there is the Hieronymus Bosch Art Center, where much of the art of the 15th century painter, Hieronymus Bosch -- born and raised in ’s-Hertogenbosch -- is exhibited. In 2016, the 500th anniversary of his death will be commemorated with an extensive program of events. The Burgundian character of the city is reflected in the large number of restaurants (169) in the city itself and the 310 restaurants in the city and surrounding area. Twenty-four top-quality restaurants have joined together in the Restaurant Alliance ’s Hertogenbosch. They are dedicated not only to the promotion of the gastronomic qualities of the city, but they also contribute to the project ‘Sustainable and Healthy Catering’ supported by the municipality of ’s-Hertogenbosch and the Hogeschool [College of Professional Education] HAS Den Bosch. One special way to see the city is with a boat trip on the canal, De Binnendieze.
Photograph: High tech campus eindhoven
This cannot be compared to the Amsterdam canals. These are very narrow waterways over which, in earlier times, the city was built. Authentic Conference Centre With the opening of Conference Centre 1931, both ’s-Hertogenbosch and Brabant now have a complete, worldclass conference facility. The year refers to the year that this former cattle market complex opened its doors. This is a special building that is on the list of national monuments. Since 2010, this former cattle hall has been a sophisticated conference and event venue that blends modern comfort with an authentic character. Conference Centre 1931 has 2,743 m² of conference space spread over three convertible halls. The largest hall in the conference center has a capacity for 2,000 seats. Moreover, there are 18 meeting rooms, which can also be combined with each other. Furthermore, the adjacent Brabant Halls, also owned by Libéma, provide over 40,000 m2 of exhibition space. This year, there is the new 040 Congress
& Events in Eindhoven. This convention center with 22 multi-functional rooms is part of Van der Valk Hotel Eindhoven, which has 272 hotel rooms. The largest room, measuring 903 m2, and has a ceiling height of 6.5 meters. Other major locations are The Ruwenberg Conference Centre in St. Michielsgestel with nearly 200 rooms, Evoluon Confe rence Centre (capacity up to 1,200 people and an auditorium for 450 guests), Chassé Theater Breda (more than 1.400 seats) and NH Conference Centre Koningshof in Veldhoven. This conference hotel boasts 120 halls, the largest one measuring 1,625 m2. Furthermore, this complex has 509 hotel rooms. Extensive primary infrastructure Brabant has its own airport, EindhovenBrabant Airport. In addition there are five international airports within an hour’s driving distance, namely Düsseldorf, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Maastricht and Brussels. Since the region lies right between the North-South and West-East connections with the neighboring countries of Belgium and Germany, respecti-
vely, the province is also intersected by a comprehensive main infrastructure of rail connections and highways. The largest hotel in Eindhoven is Pullman Eindhoven Cocagne with 320 hotel rooms and 18 meeting rooms, the largest of which measures 490 m². Other major hotels in the city are the Holiday Inn, Hampshire, Novotel and the Van der Valk Hotel Gilze-Rijen region (230 rooms). In ’s-Hertogenbosch, you could also stay at the Golden Tulip Hotel Central with 125 rooms and the Mövenpick hotel (92 rooms). In total, the region has more than 10,000 hotel rooms. New convention bureau Since 2011, there has been a convention bureau for the entire region. Convention Bureau Brabant focuses on the organisers of national and international multi-day conferences. This autonomous and independent foundation gives free advice on the possibilities in the areas of conferences, accommodation and social programs and it also arranges site visits. ≈
destination management companies
Incentive europe We provide you with our 30 years of experience, Incentive EuropeÂ´s multi-talented team of professionals speak your language. Based on knowledge and knowhow we will create your very own unforgettable event. Pieter Braaijweg 101 1099 DK Amsterdam the Netherlands
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Kuoni Destination Management B.V. Benelux Whether you are bringing an incentive or special interest programme, a meeting or a conference to Benelux, our team is ready. We have 15 creative professionals with over 60 years of combined experience. Teleport Boulevard 110 1043 EJ Amsterdam the Netherlands
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Partners & SAM!
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PARTNERS & SAM! Your event partner in the Netherlands!
Houtplein 7 2012 DD Haarlem the Netherlands
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Keizersgracht 136 1015 CW Amsterdam the Netherlands
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Performance Travel specializes in organizing group travel in The Netherlands. We thrive on many years of experience. With our approach towards your meeting, incentive or special interest travel plans for the Netherlands we are able to create added value to your event.
Success Events is specialized in organizing tailor made meetings, incentives and events in the Netherlands and Belgium. Business and pleasure will be combined in a unique way! We will create, in close cooperation with you, a tailor made business event or tour that will perfectly match your wishes. Your key to a successful event in the Netherlands!
Landskroon 50 1081 CC Amsterdam the Netherlands
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Rotterdam has won the bid for the international Site Global Conference in 2014. Incentive travel organisers from around the world will come to Rotterdam for this multi-day conference.
Utrecht will make additional investments in congress fund for 2013
This is the first time this leading event will be held in the Netherlands. The conference will take place at the Inntel Hotels Rotterdam Centre and the adjacent Mainport Hotel. Site is a worldwide network comprising 2,000 professionals from 90 countries who specialise in organising incentive travel. The conference in Rotterdam will take place from 14-17 November 2014 and is expected to attract more than 400 visitors. ≈
This year, the province and city of Utrecht will make additional investments in their congress fund in order to bring in more knowledge events.
Amsterdam Marketing provides conference organisers with room guarantee Amsterdam Marketing from now on provides organisers of all international, citywide conferences with the guarantee that they can have up to 16,000 rooms available in Amsterdam. This allows the city to quickly, efficiently and without preliminary consultations respond to large conference tender processes. The package on offer will include the conference organiser being able to provide its guests with hotel rooms awarded the ‘I Amsterdam approved’ quality label. This breakthrough was effected by the Task Force for Citywide Congresses, a collaborative effort between the larger business hotels, Amsterdam RAI, Amsterdam Marketing and others. Hotels awarded three to five stars participate in the ‘I Amsterdam approved’ quality label guarantee. The phrase ‘citywide conferences’ refers to congresses of at least 5,000 international participants, spread over several days. ≈
Municipality of Maastricht takes over the MECC conference centre The municipality of Maastricht, is taking over the MECC conference centre Maastricht from Amsterdam RAI. For years, the RAI, which has 75 percent of the shares of the operating company of MECC, in a joint venture with the municipality, has been wanting to get rid of its interests in the loss-making exhibition and convention center. The municipality wants to retain the MECC for Maastricht, because it has an economic spin-off of about 60 million euros per year. In addition, as the owner of the property, closing would cost the municipality 3.6 million euros in rent, maintenance expenses and capital losses on investment and, moreover, would lead to a loss of employment of 45 direct and 600 indirect jobs. The municipality will consolidate the complex and the activities in a new public company: MECC Maastricht BV. In 2013 and 2014, the city and RAI will disentangle the cooperation. ≈
Congress organisers can count on concrete financial support if they are committed to organising and/or holding an already existing knowledge event in Utrecht. These concern congresses under the themes of life sciences, creative industries, care and sustainability. The fund of €100,000 will be used this year only. The contribution for relevant knowledge events has been set at a maximum of €10,000 per congress. Tourism Utrecht deploys Bosscher & Klein, an agency for destination marketing, to inform national and international scientific partners about the additional financial options of this year. ≈
Global summit on nuclear security in The Hague The Nuclear Security Summit being hosted by the Netherlands in March 2014 will be held in the World Forum in The Hague. Over 50 heads of state and government and representatives of international organisations are expected to attend the event, which will be chaired by the Dutch Prime Minister. The Nuclear Security Summits were initiated by US President Obama. The first was held in Washington in April 2010 and the second in Seoul in March 2012. The Hague summit will be the third and possibly the last in the series. It aims to draw attention at the highest political level to the security of nuclear materials and so help prevent nuclear terrorism. ≈
Rotterdam host city of Site Global Conference 2014
CONGRESS CALENDAR Selection of international congresses and conferences that will be held in The Netherlands. For the complete list visit http://ow.ly/kOAHu. Congress
27th European Immunogenetics And Histocompatibility Conference (Efi)
11 - 14 May
9 World Quadrennial Congress Of The International Association Of Restructuring, Insolvency & Bankruptcy Professionals (Insol)
19 - 22 May
13th Conference Of The International Society For Travel Medicine (Cistm)
19 - 23 May
23 Regional Congress Of The International Society Of Blood Transfusion (Isbt)
1 - 5 June
Next-Generation Organic Photovoltaics Conference
2 - 5 June
9th Automotive Congress (Ac)
University of Technology
24 Annual Meeting Of The European Society Of Paediatric And Neonatal Intensive Care (Espnic)
12 - 15 June
23rd International Conference On Epidemiology In Occupational Health (Epico)
18 - 21 June
6 International Conference On Childrenâ€™s Bone Health (Iccbh)
22 - 25 June
7th International Conference On Population Geographies (Icpg)
25 - 28 June
The Society For Applied Research In Memory & Cognition (Sarmac)
26 - 29 June
Inntel Hotels Rotterdam Centre
4 International And Interdisciplinary Conference On Emotional Geographies
1 - 3 july
World Justice Forum IV
9 - 12 July
59 International Pharmaceutical Students' Federation World Congress (Ipsf)
30 July - 8 August
25th International Congress Of Vexillology (Icv)
4 - 10 August
Engels Congress Centre
35th Congress Of The European Society Of Cardiology (Esc)
31 August - 4 September
International Broadcasting Conference (Ibc)
13 - 17 September
European Workshop On Ampk
15 - 17 September
Van der Valk Hotel
European Cancer Congress (Ecco17 - Esmo38 - Estro32)
27 September - 1 October
15th World Congress Of Psycho-Oncology And Psychosocial Academy (Ipos)
4 - 8 November
13 - 14 November
Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ
61st Congress Of The International Federation Of Roofing Contractors (Ifd)
14 - 16 November
The European Current Concepts In Orthopaedic Pathology (Imuka)
28 - 30 November
Nuclear Security Summit
24 - 25 March
16 International Clinical Symposium (update@Kempenhaeghe.nl)
13th International European Security Conference And Exhibition (Asis)
1 - 3 April
8th European Conference On Antennas And Propagation (Eucap)
7 - 11 April
European Association For Sociology In Sports (Eass)
7 - 10 May
World Pain Conference (Wip)
7 -10 May
16th European Congress Of Sports Traumatology, Knee Surgery And Arthroscopy (Esska)
14 - 17 May
25th Congress Of European Rhinologic Society
22 - 26 June
Beurs van Berlage
International Symposium On Forecasting (Isf)
29 June - 2 July
34th European Matrix Biology Meeting (Eumb)
5 - 9 July
21st International Symposium On Mathematical Theory Of Networks And Systems (Mtns)
7 - 11 July
Annual Congress Association Of European Schools Of Planning (Aesop)
9 - 13 July
13th International Congress Of Behavioral Medicine
20 - 23 August
Ieee Sections Congress
22 - 25 August
2014 European Bone And Joint Infection Society (Ebjis)
11 - 14 September
Jaarbeurs Congress Centre
21st Annual Congress European Society Of Stereotactic And Functional Neurosurgery (Essfn)
17 - 20 September
European Congress On Emergency Medicine (Eusem)
27 September - 2 October
4th Biannual International Multidisciplinary Pain Congress
1 - 4 October
Van der Valk Hotel
23 International Congress Of The European Academy Of Dermatology And Venereology (Eadv)
9 - 12 October
Published on May 15, 2013
Published on May 15, 2013
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