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REZIDOR & PARK INN BELUX Special feature

EUROPE Destination


European Meetings Industry Fair

special issue

All you need to know a MIM magazine PROFILE Distribution + MIMmagazine is a pan-European magazine + Circulation of 5,000 copies + Audience control pending (end 2011)1 )

10% 32%


Readership The readership of MIMmagazine consists of three buyer groups: + The corporate readership, highly qualified decision makers within the larger companies in Europe and its capital city Brussels: 58% + The members of EUMA, the only pan-European professional organisation for Management Assistants (1,600 European members): 32% + The European Meetings Industry, international professional agencies (PCO’s, Incentive Houses, Event Agencies): 10%

3%3% 3% 6% 2% 20% 2% 33%


Corporate readership + Senior Management: 20% Management: 28% Management Assistants: 33% HR + Training: 2% Purchasing: 3% PR & Coordination: 2% Travel Coordination Managers: 3% Communication Managers: 3% Meeting Planning Corporates: 6% + Members of EUMA All top level Management Assistants with buying or influential power + Professional agencies The senior level of management of the PCO’s, Incentive Houses, and Event Agencies


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Meetings Industry in-depth information provider + Regular surveys held among the readership + Significant statistics published on a regular basis thanks to partnerships with International Meetings Industry organisations. + Organisation of round tables within the Meetings Industry + Contacts with Trade Associations on European level (EFAPCO, MPI, SITE) + Participation at the major international trade fairs such as IMEX, EIBTM, EMIF

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As the world spins faster, IMEX’s revolutionary approach to business is the answer. Are you equipped for 21st century business? The ground rules of business may be changing fast as technology, environmental and economic issues interact, but IMEX will make every challenge easier to tackle. IMEX 2011, live in Frankfurt 24-26 May, will feature our most spectacular New Vision education programme yet - new dimensions of intelligence, insight and ideas from top experts on topical subjects including social media, industry developments, business know-how and your career path. At IMEX 2011 you’ll meet more top people than anywhere else. The meetings and events industry’s favourite show in the worldwide calendar will be buzzing with new contacts and great deals, as well as great thinking. Come to IMEX in Frankfurt in May. For your business and your career it will be a giant leap forward.

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general > editorial

The week of...? EDITORIAL

MARCEL A.M. VISSERS Owner - Editor in chief

The week of what, you say? The week of the meetings industry! Who, outside of our own obstinate world, knows what ‘meetings industry’ actually means? Not many people I would say, though those same people know what ‘tourism’ is and how each and every country invests vast amounts of money in it. Still, the meetings industry exists and we have to shout it out. It’s a global business making billions of euros every year. But the definition, the domain and the participants aren’t clear for everyone yet, and there are actually three separate meeting worlds: the American, the European and the Asian one. Our friends at Visit Britain started organizing their ‘National Meetings Week’ more than ten years ago. This initiative aims to explain to the outside world what the meetings industry actually stands for. The formula seems to be successful. But, with the 2012 Olympics, I’ve noticed they made an addition to it. The project is now called National Meetings & Events Week.


A couple of other European countries recently started their own version of the Meetings Week. On Hervé Bosquet’s (BI-TC) initiative, a Brussels Meetings Week was organized in 2006. This year the 6th edition is taking place, which makes it the second most successful Meetings Week worldwide. The Meetings Week is a European phenomenon, but it is slowly but steadily spreading to Asia, especially in Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Singapore. However, in those

countries they’re still talking about rodents: MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) and MICE Weeks! In honor of Brussels Meetings Week, I want to bring the term ‘meetings industry’ up for discussion and review again. I have two reasons for that. First, at KME (Korean MICE Exhibition in 2010) I heard a couple of Europeans talk about banning incentives from the meetings industry. In their mind

The meetings industry exists and we have to shout it out incentives are a form of tourism which has nothing to do with meetings. Second, where are our brothers from the exhibition industry, while they are so beautifully included in the definition of the meetings industry? They are nowhere to be seen, they lead their own lives, because everyone knows damn well what the exhibition industry is. They don’t need ‘The Week of...’. Just for those two reasons alone I want to shout out: where is the Joint Meetings Industry Council?

Read more of Marcel’s stories on his blog:

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general > contents




INTERVIEW Willem van der Zee, Rezidor






GENERAL Editorial EUMA Brussels Meetings Week EMIF

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DESTINATIONS France: meetings along water Monaco Dubai Bilbao Athens Milan

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SUBSCRIPTIONS: An annual subscription costs 75 EURO (excl. 6% tax) and comprises 6 magazines. In order to subscribe, go to or send an e-mail to In exclusive partnership with

European Management Assistants Association. Editor in Chief: Marcel A.M. Vissers T: +32 (0)3 226 88 81 Managing Director: Cécile Caiati-Koch T: +32 (0)2 761 70 52 Managing Editor: Rémi Dévé T : +32 (0)761 70 58 Editors: Rose Kelleher Igor Hendrickx Jonathan Ramael Address: 59, rue René Declercq B - 1150 Brussels (Belgium) T: +32 (0)2 761 70 50 F: +32 (0)2 761 70 51 Publisher: Meeting Media Company Marcel A.M. Vissers Mechelseplein 23, bus 1 B - 2000 Antwerpen (Belgium)

Design: UPSILON advertising, Kortrijk T: +32 (0)56 24 94 44 Printing: Cartim - Destelbergen

STAY TUNED FOR MIM115 COMING OUT IN MAY 2011! + IMEX Special + Special feature: Sustainability + EUMA Report + Cover interview: Steen Jakobsen, of Wonderful Copenhagen + An update on our Meetings Forest …and as usual we interviewed a European Corporate Event Planner

MIM magazine sets great store by sustainable development and therefore chose environment-friendly FSC certified paper which comes from a controlled source. More info: and ® FSC, A.C. FSC-SECR-0045

Keep yourself informed thanks to the MIM Europe magazine website: It’s updated on a daily basis!

Cover MIM114: Willem van der Zee is Rezidor’s Regional Director Benelux & France, as well as General Manager of Radisson Blu EU Hotel. He shares his insights on the meetings industry.

Past and future events 2010 Conference & Training Day 2011 It seems appropriate for a European association to go back to the founding roots of the European Union and organise its annual events in the Benelux. While the EUMA Conference 2010 - incidentally, it was a huge success - took place in Brussels, the upcoming Spring Council and Training Day 2011 will take place in Luxemburg. Incidentally, I’m sure it too will be a huge success because last October I saw how management assistants came together and pulled off an almost perfect conference - ‘almost perfect’, because a ‘perfect’ conference doesn’t exist. TEXT IGOR HENDRICKX Looking back on Brussels While for some the Annual Conference in Sheraton Brussels started on the evening before with a festive dinner, I was only present on the day of the conference, when the sessions and seminars took place. ‘Only’ is the wrong term to use, because from early morning until quite late in the evening the programme was filled with interesting speakers who prepared each and every one of the 250 attendees for the future and a brave new world. Catherine Day, Secretary General of the European Commission, gave the keynote speech to open the conference and stressed the importance of management assistants and their value. She then provided a general view of what is being done at European level to deal with everything following the collapse of Lehman Bros in 2008. The next speaker, Wouter De Ploey, explained in a very entertaining manner what lean


management means. He introduced us to this process, which aims to reduce waste and increase efficiency on all levels, in such an enthusiastic way that time flew by. Ignace Van Doorselaere followed this up with his talk about the right attitude and system to remain successful in this day and age. To be successful as a company you need clarity, commitment, trust, simplicity, speed, flexibility. The debate that closed the morning sessions came to the happy conclusion that during times of crisis, a network such as EUMA has certainly proven its value, not only for exchanging business information, but also for mental support. Everybody wants to ‘belong’ somewhere, and a good network is key for sharing experiences. Sadly, I did not take part in the many workshops in the afternoon, mostly because I couldn’t decide which one interested me most. However, if you read

International quality network of management support professionals >

EUMA EUropean Management Assistants, EUMA, is the only Europe-wide quality network of top management assistants who focus on their self-development and professional evolution, and reflect on the future of their profession. The association is a non-profit association, has no political aims and does not engage in political or trade union activities. EUMA provides a forum for management assistants, employers and educators to promote an understanding of the training, experience and career opportunities necessary for the development of its members. EUMA promotes an image of the management assistant as an essential element of the management team. EUMA was founded in 1974, and is currently represented by over 1300 members in 26 countries.

> proActive, you’ll get a good idea of the different workshops. Still, I learned a lot and if this was ‘only’ a conference, then how informative and of practical value will the training day prove to be?

Looking forward to Luxembourg While the Conference 2010 focused on providing different techniques and ways to deal with the crisis in the future, the Training Day 2011 will focus on helping you develop the right attitude to use these techniques. That’s why this year’s topic is ‘Emotional Intelligence: Master Your Emotions - To Master Your Life’. Led by Angie Katselianos, whom we wrote extensively about in MIM109, this highly participative, interactive workshop focuses on the proven process powerful people employ to dissolve negative emotions impeding maximum growth! We can look forward to pre-course preparation materials, an educative program manual and large and small learning teams. It should prove to be a very powerful personal development experience, empowering you with the following benefits: • Identify core negative emotion so as not to waste time - isolate the right trait, action or in-action for elimination. • Regain freedom and control of your thoughts, feelings, time, and priorities. • Reduce brain noise resulting in higher

EUMA Spring Council and Training Day 2011 31th March - 3rd April 2011 + Thursday 31st March 2011 16.00-18.45 Registration at Hotel Novotel Kirchberg 19.00-20.30 Welcome Reception at Hotel Sol Meliã Luxembourg

+ Friday 1st April 2011 08.00-09.00 Registration at Hotel Novotel Kirchberg 09.00-12.30 Separate National Officers’ Meetings 12.30-14.00 Lunch 13.00-14.00 Registration at Hotel Novotel Kirchberg 14.00-17.30 Full Council Meeting

15.00-17.00 Sightseeing Tour “City Promenade” (walking tour) 16.00-18.00 Registration at Hotel Novotel Kirchberg 18.00-19.00 Departure for the Dinner by bus from Hotel Novotel Kirchberg 19.00-23.00 Training Day Dinner at Restaurant “Le Sud”

+ Saturday 2nd April 2011 08.00-09.00 Registration at Hotel Novotel Kirchberg 09.00-16.00 Training Day (lunch 13.00-14.00)

mental clarity, certainty, and presence. • Take control of any meeting or situation from the outset. • Be thoroughly centered to handle any challenge, at any time, from anyone. • Overcome energy consuming situations and conflict. • Redirect time wasted in turf wars in activities of strategic importance.

+ Sunday, 3rd April 2011 08.30-09.30 Registration at Hotel Novotel Kirchberg 09.30-11.30 Luxembourg City Sightseeing Tour by bus The tour will give you an overall view of Luxembourg city and includes the main sights of the city and Kirchberg. A light snack will be served at the end of the tour.

environment and what location could be better than Luxembourg? This historical town offers lots of cultural and leisure possibilities. With seven museums, an UNESCO World Heritage Site and many excellent cosy bars and restaurants with in walking distance, you will get many inspiring opportunities to let the information sink in. From personal experience,

An intensive programme like EUMA’s Training Day 2011 can only work in an inspiring environment and what location could be better than Luxembourg? • Improve communication, personal and professional relationships. • Enhance professionalism and ability to lead and influence others. • Feel empowered. • Be more productive. • Improve personal well-being, self-esteem, and confidence. • Able to apply this transformational tool yourself (skills transfer). • Opportunity to coach others on how to benefit from this life-changing process. Of course, an intensive programme like this can only work in an inspiring

I can tell you that a tour of the town walls, is an easy, interesting and beautiful exercise that you simply cannot have not done while visiting this European capital. Kindly note that the registration deadline is 10 March 2011. Admission is limited and priority will be given to those who have registered for this Training in Helsinki, April 2010. Other registration requests will be placed on a waiting list pending availability. All members are advised to wait for confirmation before making any travel arrangements.


interview > Rezidor & Park Inn BeLux

Last issue, we talked about the importance of hotels for our industry and gave an overview of all kinds of meeting hotels. That special feature must have been a popular one, because not much later we were able to arrange an exclusive interview with one of the top hotel chain managers in Western Europe. Willem van der Zee is Rezidor’s Regional Director Benelux & France, as well as General Manager of Radisson Blu EU Hotel. INTERVIEW MARCEL A.M. VISSERS AND IGOR HENDRICKX

Benelux & France. In that capacity, I’m responsible for a grand total of 33 hotels managed by the Rezidor Hotel Group in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France, 3 of which will soon be opening.

MIM: It’s unbelievable how expansive Rezidor has been and still is… Willem van der Zee: Our president, Kurt Ritter, is the longest serving CEO in the hotel industry. He’s the dominant gene of our hotel group. As such he doesn’t let himself be distracted. The expansion we see today was started long before yesterday. By being present in so many places, we can offset temporary setbacks in one region by doing extremely well in another. Of course the economic crisis has hurt us. The current market has obliged us to raise our prices if we want to stay profitable. Cutting costs without cutting basic services seems difficult. By placing a lot of emphasis on loyalty, we can stay successful, as Mr. Ritter says: ‘Satisfaction is worthless, loyalty is priceless.’ People can be satisfied about their stay, but if they don’t return in one way or another, we have missed out on them.



Willem van der Zee Quality is nothing without loyalty MIM: Perhaps you would like to introduce yourself to our readers? Willem van der Zee: Since I finished my studies in hotel management, I have never stopped working in the hospitality industry. However, in the beginning it wasn’t always for Rezidor: for two short stints I worked for Hilton, separated by an interval at Radisson SAS Royal Hotel (Brussels), In the former Radisson SAS, I found my preferred employer and I have been with them ever since.

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In 2001 I became General Manager of the recently acquired Radisson SAS Balmoral Hotel in Spa. At that time a new hotel, the Radisson SAS Palace Hotel was being built in the centre of the city. I soon became City General Manager, responsible for both hotels. In 2006, I returned to Brussels to become General Manager of Radisson Blu Royal Hotel and only recently I took over general management of the Radisson Blu Europe Hotel as well as Regional Director

That’s why we try to build relations with our guests. Guests get a lot of good reasons to return to our hotels for business or for leisure with the Goldpointsplus program (upgrades, gifts and other benefits) and our ‘Yes I Can’ service philosophy, which provides guests with our undivided attention. This long-term approach distinguishes us from other hotels more concerned with squeezing everything out of one stay. Today our loyalty programme already has more than one million members.

MIM: How does the meetings industry fit in the big picture of the hospitality industry? Willem van der Zee: Tourism has changed a lot in the last few years. Driven by new technology, legislation and innovation, we have to content with an ever-changing landscape. The meetings industry is one of the most innovating clients we have. For example, most meeting planners make creative use of reservations and cancellations by using cadre-contracts and individual call inns. Through our partnership with MPI and the ‘Yes I can!’ approach, we can accommodate meeting planners in the best way. Naturally, not all our hotel brands are perfectly suited for corporate meetings. Park

interview > Rezidor & Park Inn BeLux

Inn, Regent and Radisson Blu are the brands most chosen by planners and in Regent’s case it’s mostly meant for incentive trips. The clearest example of this is the Radisson Blu Waterfront Stockholm, which will be the largest conference hotel in Northern Europe.

MIM: We understand Park Inn by Radisson has initiated a lot of developments lately… Willem van der Zee: That’s correct. Park Inn by Radisson will launch 3 new properties in Belgium & Luxembourg. The first one will open his doors beginning of March, the Park Inn Brussels Midi, followed by the Park Inn Luxembourg by the end of April and finally Park Inn Leuven beginning of June. All of the properties can be found next to the major train stations and are full serviced midscale products with all necessary facilities such as restaurant, bar, parking, fitness and the full ‘Yes I can’ philosophy.

MIM: Finally, what do you see happening in the future? Willem van der Zee: Through internet, any and all information needed for organizing events and accommodation is directly available to anyone who made use of middlemen before. That’s why brand recognition will become even more important for us. People automatically connect brands with certain values and it still streamlines information searches. Easier accommodation and meeting requests also means last-minute requests. The availability of information and the direct contact of virtual communication have also made professional fairs somewhat redundant. Fairs such as EIBTM and IMEX attract less people because of that. On the technology side, we need to make more use of social media. Facebook and LinkedIn are still seen as too much of a

Tourism has changed a lot in the last few years. Driven by new technology, legislation and innovation, we have to content with an ever-changing landscape The Park Inn Brussels Midi has 142 room and 3 meeting rooms with a total capacity of 75 people. Leuven will be our largest meeting provider with 120 people and has 133 rooms and finally Luxembourg, which is the smallest property, with 99 rooms and 3 meeting rooms. All the hotels will have the new RBG restaurant & Bar concept based on fresh, healthy, fun and convenient food. For the next 2 year we have more than 25 Park Inn by Radisson projects that will be added to the brand portfolio.

toy and less of a tool. We need to make the toy a tool. Finally, I applaud the rising importance of sustainable development issues in the meetings industry. As you know, Radisson has been Green since 1989 and Blu since 2009. We continue to receive third party certification from respected labeling organizations, such as Nordic Swan, the Green Key and the Green Tourism Business Scheme.

Hard facts: Rezidor’s Hotel Brands + Radisson Blu Hotels & Resorts are first class, full service hotels that combine a stylish and contemporary approach to design, with a culture of innovative thinking. These innovations include its Yes I Can! spirit of service and free high-speed Internet access. + Park Inn by Radisson is a innovative international hotel product. Focusing on mastering the essentials, they create an affordable hotel experience that’s warm and casual, spotlessly clean, easy to use, safe and fun. + Regent Hotels & Resorts are a hospitality and hotel legend. Its name is synonymous with superior, traditional, luxury hotels and resorts. And Regent hotels are where the experience genuinely matches that reputation. + Hotel Missoni. A new genre of life and style hotels developed in partnership with the iconic Italian fashion house of the same name. It’s stylish, intimate, contemporary, with an eclectic design. + Country Inn is the hotel of choice for those looking for a ‘cosier’, more ‘homely’ experience at a price that can only be described as great value for money.

Kurt Ritter

MIM 11


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general > fairs & events


Brussels Meetings Week: a European model


Interview with Hervé Bosquet, Director, Brussels Convention Bureau In 2006, Brussels took the initiative to explain to the outside world how important congresses and conferences are for a city and the first Brussels Meetings Week was born. The concept is simple: Brussels promotes and reinforces the meetings industry’s image during a whole week of activities. Brussels Meetings Week is now in its 6th edition. Hervé Bosquet, Director of Brussels Convention Bureau, tells us all about it. INTERVIEW MARCEL A.M. VISSERS

MIM: A few years back, a couple of destinations started organizing a Meetings Week. Brussels keeps holding on well. Where does this energy come from? Hervé Bosquet: In my opinion, there is so Hervé Bosquet much energy because the meetings industry is very important for tourism in Brussels. Our industry accounts for 40% of the total number of yearly overnight stays. This means we have a big impact on the economy and especially on the employment in Brussels. It’s very important for politicians to know this, and to be willing to make investments. I’ll give you two examples. First, there’s the construction of an International Convention Centre on the Heyzel site. Google ‘Neo Brussels’ and you’ll see what I’m talking about. A second example of this positive attitude is the international development plan for the capital region.

MIM: What did the different editions of the Meetings Week actually change for Brussels? Hervé Bosquet: To me that question has a very clear answer: the Brussels meetings industry gained a lot of fame, which made the interest of politicians for our industry grow every year. Growth, that’s the keyword!

MIM: Do you think the mainstream press understands what it’s all about? Hervé Bosquet: The interest of the mainstream press is declining a little bit every year. This is happening because there’s not always a lot of fresh news to report. That’s why we work on new ideas like the creation of a new identity, a forum for employment in tourism, the forging of alliances, the Awards and so on.

MIM: Would you recommend the formula to other European cities or for example to ECM (European Cities Marketing)? Hervé Bosquet: We are organizing the Meetings Week for the sixth time now and I’m still a strong supporter of the initiative. Our partners take us more seriously every year - public and private organizations alike. This makes me very happy. I can only tell other cities it will be worth the effort.

MIM: Do you visit other Meetings Weeks on a regular basis? And can you compare the results? Hervé Bosquet: I haven’t visited other Weeks yet, so I can’t compare. Maybe you’ll remember we received the JMIC (Joint Meetings Industry Council) Power and Profile Award in 2006, that is the first year Brussels Meetings Week saw the light of day. The Joint Meeting Industry Council is the body representing the industry at a global level. The Week has since gone from strength to strength and I’m really proud of that.

What’s on the schedule for 2011? + 14/3: Employment Forum + 14/3: Press Conference & Awards Ceremony

+ 15 & 16/3: EMIF Fair + 16 & 17/3: VIP Program + 18/3: Brussels Job and Career Day

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In the very heart of Europe, EMIF is an ideal source of inspiration and information for Corporate

European Meetings Industry Fair


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general > fairs & events



EMIF 2011 on the move Mark Tuesday 15 and Wednesday 16 March 2011 in your agenda. It is meeting time, with the 10th edition of EMIF, the European Meetings Industry Fair, at the Tour & Taxis Exhibition Centre in Brussels. What can you expect? EMIF is the place to be for Meeting & Event Planners, Professional Conference Organizers, Destination Management Companies, Corporate Travel Managers, Incentive Agents and Management Assistants to find new ideas, refresh old business contacts and make promising new ones. • Are you responsible for organizing meetings, incentives, team buildings or conferences for your corporation, association or business client? • Do you want to update your organizational knowledge for these types of events? • Or are you, as a professional meeting or event planner, looking for fresh and inspirational ideas for your next meeting or business event? Well, EMIF 2011 hosts various meeting and event suppliers from all over Europe. Convention bureaus, hotel chains, special venues (churches, industrial venues, breweries, etc.), exhibition & conference venues, incentive houses, airline companies




and all different kinds of meeting & event suppliers such as AV specialists, catering companies, meeting technology specialists, artists, industry media and many, many more!... Where else can you meet so many business contacts in this short period of time in just one place? Not at your work or on the internet, that’s for sure!...

Inspirational Conferences EMIF 2011 is proud to present you a number of inspirational seminars and conferences in co-operation with different industry partners. BI-TC (Brussels International - Tourism & Congress) will have a discussion on Brussels as host for huge sporting events. This session is aimed at politicians from the BrusselsCapital Region, members of BECI (Brussels Enterprises Commerce and Industry) and sportive event specialists. The tourism and conference bureau has also initiated a roundtable discussion with CEOs and Association Executives, an important stepstone in the organization of a platform of the international Association community. This debate will be moderated by Alessandro Cortese, CEO of ESTRO (European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology), and Hervé Bosquet, Director of Brussels Convention Bureau. Are you looking for new meeting technologies or inspirational ideas to boost up the quality of the content of your meeting? Then you should not miss the Meeting Support Institute seminar which will be organized by meeting expert Maarten Vanneste (Abbit Meeting Support). He

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will show you the advantages of hybrid meetings and 3D video in a meeting environment. You can also attend the seminar organized by RendEvenement. Freelance Presenter and Communication Coach Christoph Van Doninck will give you plenty of tips and tricks to make sure that all your crew members are aware of the goal of your event. And will act accordingly to increase your ROI... . This session will be moderated by Harry Van Hest of Harpo, Speakers Society. EMIF 2011 will also host the next MPI Belgium Conference, which is well known for its inspirational sessions for meeting planners.

Promo Factory Promo Factory is a new event that will take place next to EMIF, also in Tour & Taxis. Here you can find all kinds of promotional & event merchandising products, gadgets, green gifts, signage and meeting supplies. Register now at and see you at the fair! Contact Dimitri Van Moerkercke Communications Coordinator EMIF | Promo Factory T. +32 (0)2 740 10 67

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special feature > Europe European parliament, Strasbourg

special feature

How the meetings industry needs Europe... and the other way around MIM 16

special feature > Europe


Knowing me, knowing you Why meeting Europe matters On a Thursday night in Place du Luxembourg, the well-heeled workers of Brussels, speaking in every language and accent, are winding down from a day at Europe’s helm. They spill out on the cobbled square in front of the blue glass European Parliament building. The square is dominated by a statue of the Englishman who built the first railway through Europe, paving the way for economic cooperation among Europe’s often warring neighbours. TEXT ROSE KELLEHER

They sip Chardonnay and loosen their ties, from pink faced, white haired Scandinavians to olive skinned Mediterraneans. The Italians are invariably the best dressed. A quick eavesdrop gives the impression that these confident Eurocrats never stop working. They are ‘talking shop’. For the uninitiated, it’s jargon. And if the conversation of these civil servants is incomprehensible to those working in the meetings industry, you can consider the feeling mutual. You don’t know how Europe works, and Europe doesn’t know how you work.

Constant campaign That’s why there are 15,000 lobbyists in Brussels, looking out for the interests of families to fisheries, margarine manufacturers to metalworkers. These corporate ‘communications specialists’ are also scattered among our well-heeled Eurocrats every Thursday night in Place du Luxembourg, buying rounds for Europe’s policy makers. Up to 84% of laws that affect the way we do business originate on a Brussels desk. The European Commission doesn’t know the meetings industry exists or how much wealth it generates. Meetings, conferences, conventions and incentive travel are lumped under the umbrella-like ‘Tourism’. Tourism in Europe is considered a very important wealth generator, and is under the auspices of the Directorate General Trade and Enterprise. And lobbying the institutions is all about communication. ‘It is important not just to always have requirements, not always to be asking for something. Sometimes it is necessary to just explain what you generate’ says Nicolas Le Brun of the European Federation of Associations of

Place du Luxembourg, Brussels

The European Commission doesn’t know the meetings industry exists or how much wealth it generates

Lobby, not hobby

Apart from being the president of EFAPCO, Nicolas also heads ‘pure’ PCO, Destree. He uses his advocacy position to raise awareness of anything that comes under the meetings industry banner, and as president of EFAPCO he speaks in the name of the global events industry, not just PCOs.

‘It’s a long term effort’, he says. ‘Doing the research, speaking to the commissioners and raising awareness. You have to have constant contact with them. We can say to the policy makers: “At the moment we don’t need any specifics from you. Maybe come and speak at one of our conferences” and we can open their eyes to our value’.

He met with the previous commissioner for DG Enterprise and industry in Brussels last year. He was happy to have an audience with the ex-commissioner, who at that time was also VP of the Commission. ‘With the commissioner I had a chance to explain the meetings industry to him. But he stopped

PCOs (EFAPCO), an advocacy group. Flying the flag for the meetings industry just a stone’s throw away from the corridors of power, Nicolas and EFAPCO have their advocacy work cut out for them.

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special feature > Europe

EFAPCO is trying to fight against. We are not tourism’.

small associations who wouldn’t be heard.’

Getting the message across

EFAPCO, like other advocacy groups, identifies key issues and tries to get to know the policy people. One bone of contention for the meetings industry is education. EFAPCO are working on a mechanism to paint a picture of third level education in the field in its member countries. ‘We are trying to get an idea of all education that is available in Europe in connection with our industry. Our Hungarian member is compiling a picture of what is being done in each country’ says Nicolas.

‘Those in the tourism unit of the European Commission have certain competencies, and the regulations go through them, so it was necessary to speak to them. One of the major issues for our industry was the change in legislation for V.A.T., and it has changed again in January 2011. Though tax is a national competency the european tax authority sets the rules about how we apply V.A.T. That has a major impact on whether or not people decide to organise events abroad’.

Nicolas Le Brun

him mid-explanation “Nicolas, he said. I spend half my life in meetings, you don’t need to tell me what it is’. These ‘lifer’ civil servants should be the perfect audience. But though they might spend their lives conference-hopping, they still don’t fully appreciate this high yield industry at a European level. ‘Like it or not the meetings industry is still attached to tourism’ says Nicolas. ‘That’s how it is presently done, and it is bizarre. It is what

JMIC’s point of view Here is what Leigh Harry, president of JMIC, had to say about lobbying for the meetings industry. Obviously, JMIC doesn’t formally do any lobbying… ‘Every industry needs to advance its arguments and protect its interests with government or it risks having decisions that impact its future made in ignorance of what is at stake. If anything, the meetings Iindustry has even more at risk because it’s influenced by so many policy areas, including investment in infrastructure, economic development

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On December 1, 2010, the European Commission invited all interested parties to submit their contributions in response to the questions raised in the ‘Green Paper on the future of VAT – Towards a simpler, more robust and efficient VAT system’. All stakeholders have 6 months to raise their concerns. Nicolas explains: ‘One of our members heard about it and said we need to give our position on this. So, we have been collecting positions for the past few months. This is a platform where we can bring our views and recommendations. We have a position paper, prepared by our French member. We can have one voice instead of a number of

policy, immigration and transportation policy, national security and taxation. Also, government meeting policies have a huge potential impact as they are a big part of the demand. For all these reasons, it is extremely important that the industry perspective is heard amongst decision makers in government. Certainly, when the current crisis makes seeing its connection with what we do as an industry difficult. Without this kind of understanding, there is an even greater risk of the

False impressions EFAPCO strives to encourage the relevant DGs to take the meetings industry into consideration when implementing policy. The ex-commissioner for Enterprise and Industry, says Nicolas, was under the impression that they already did. ‘It’s funny because the commissioner brought up Schengen and visa free travel in our discussion. He wanted to clearly state that the EC had done a lot for our industry in this respect. And you can’t say it’s not true but it’s not particularly specific to our sector’ says Nicolas. This misconception comes about because of well organised tourism lobbies. The European Tour Operators Association

support and investment in our industry being diverted into other areas. JMIC is not mandated to take on initiatives in specific areas although it is certainly prepared to assist by bringing collective industry opinion to bear and to provide supportive materials and arguments where these will be of use. It will always be important for local industry interests to be seen to take the lead in situations like this because these are the people governments are most likely to listen to.’

special feature > Europe

(ETOA) held a consultation meeting with the European Commission’s Visa Policy Unit on November 29, following the ‘Europe: Open for Business?’ seminar held in Brussels in October, where the commission defended the existing visa policies which the ETOA insisted was causing Europe to miss out on tourism, and, therefore, income and potential job

Doctors coming to Honolulu for one session is finished. We have to get the message through, people need to understand that meetings boost the economy creation in the industry, due to inefficient and overly cumbersome processes. That’s why Nicolas thinks ‘it is essential that they have within DG Enterprise and Industry, within the unit tourism someone who is clearly specialised in the meetings industry’.

Repositioning the meetings brand in Europe Meetings are criticised as being nongreen, but Nicolas says: ‘Doctors coming to Honolulu for one session is finished. We have to get the message through, people need to understand that meetings boost the economy, but it also helps the companies and the people attending the conferences to learn and develop. We are now challenged to produce the figures to prove this, and EFAPCO is putting into place some tools’. But it’s easier to measure cash flow than abstracts like levels of learning and development. ‘A delegate spends as much as €450 a day in Brussels while attending a three-day conference. The math is quickly done, but that’s not meetings. We didn’t bring them to stay hotel nights, we brought these doctors, these physicians, these engineers together to think. With the tools to measure what people learn and share, eventually we can change our message’.

The lack of Meetings Industry lobbyists As the European Union grows, so does its influence on all manners of industry and commerce. A consequence is that more and more industries are represented in Brussels by professionals trying to influence the European legislative process. Sadly, the Meetings Industry is not one of these. TEXT IGOR HENDRICKX To find what a lobbyist really does for an industry, we went looking for someone related to our industry. Airlines fit this condition and as such it’s interesting to see how they lobby the European Union. We asked Michiel Laumans, KLM’s Director of European Affairs in Brussels, for his opinion. ‘Currently about three quarters of all regulations involving airlines originates in Brussels. The EU has regulations about the environment, market accessibility, security and safety, etc. You can see why it’s so important for us to try and maintain a favourable regulatory environment for our industry. We can do this from the outside by meeting Commission officials or participating in public hearings, and from the inside as experts during the legislative process. Naturally it’s better to influence regulations when the Commission has only just started developing them, but we do our best to follow and influence the whole process until the finish line. The best and most recent example of how important lobbying is, is the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in March 2010. I spent many intensive days convincing the different European bodies that air travel should be allowed again and that - based on our expertise - there was no reason not to allow it. As a follow-up on this crisis, the airlines are lobbying to get the whole system revised, proving once again that often a crisis is needed before action is taken. In any case, without lobbying the air traffic shut-down would’ve lasted even longer, disrupting the European economy even more. Having established the importance of lobbying, I think it would be best to describe several conditions that should be met before the Meetings Industry can even hope to effectively lobby the European Union. First and foremost,

Michiel Laumans

the different partners and representatives of the industry should convene and agree on what exactly they want to achieve (lowering tax, getting an official standing,...). Clearly defined objectives are much easier to realise than vague ideas. Then the decision must be made between employing a full-time lobbyist or a lobbying firm - each has its own advantages and disadvantages, just like running an organisation yourself or employing an agency. Once that’s done, they will take over and you will only have to sit back and reap the benefits. It should be noted that this process can take a very long time. Even the seemingly simple act of getting an official status for the meetings industry within the European framework can take several rounds between the European Commission, the Directorate General and the European Parliament and this is supposing that it doesn’t get opposition from official and unofficial partners (other industries, NGO’s, countries, etc.).’

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special feature > Europe

European Regional Development Fund* Driving Progress in Europe Hostetin, in the South East of the Czech Republic, is the country’s most eco-friendly village. With a population of only 250 people, it is an unlikely revolutionary in the drive for environmental sustainability. It is also an unlikely venue for a meeting. But here, nestled into the rolling green of the surrounding wilderness, you’ll find the country’s most eco-friendly conference centre, with solar powered auditorium, 10 room guesthouse and other ‘green’ facilities. And apart from its extremely remote location, or the fact that it consumes 80% less energy than a conventional conference centre, this place is special because it was paid for by the European Union. TEXT ROSE KELLEHER poorer regions out of the mud. The fund is used for many projects that aim to develop a region’s capacity to generate wealth. And that includes attracting visitors and meetings.

the green roof of Centre Veronica in Hostetin

Hostetin is in the very poor region of Stˇrední Morava. Located in a remote and mountainous part of the Czech Republic near the border with Slovakia, the village has become a flag bearer for modern ‘passive house’ design. All of this is doing great things for the local economy. Apart from the visitors it draws every year (about 5,000 and counting), the centre has created five permanent jobs, including full and part-time project and course managers and administrative staff.

between 3 and 7 million people. These are huge economies, and the scope for economic growth and job creation is massive.

What makes a region

The ERDF aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the European Union by correcting imbalances between its regions.

A region is a geographical area that comes one level below national government. Each region of Europe has its own elected office, but also its own character, colour, cuisine and culture. The physical limits are based most often on geographical features like coastlines, mountains, rivers or forests. (Zeeland is separated by the region of Zuid Holland by a river, Calabria in Italy by a 3 kilometre strait of Messina from Sicily). Some are more

But trying to ‘equalise’ the economies of 1,671 regions is quite a task. There are incredibly wealthy regions, such as Inner London which, according to Forbes, has a GDP of 315%. Brussels and Luxembourg trail not far behind. The ten poorest regions in Europe are divided equally between five regions in Bulgaria and five in Romania. The European Commission sees funding them as the preferred ways to

Apart from being diverse in personality, Europe’s regions are also diverse in wealth. In an attempt to sort out imbalances among them, the EU has devoted about a third of its annual budget to the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund)

Ironing out Europe’s imbalances The region of Stˇrední Morava is one of 1,671 regions in Europe. Apart from being diverse in personality, Europe’s regions are also diverse in wealth. In an attempt to sort out imbalances among them, the EU has devoted about a third of its annual budget to the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund). The Hostetin Centre for Sustainable Rural Development would not exist if it were not for the ERDF, the EU’s fund for lifting

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attractive or more developed than others. There are well known regions like Provence in France, to lesser known but equally as beautiful Balaton Lake region of Hungary. There are busy city-regions like London, to remote and sparser regions like Lapland in Northern Finland. Germany, by far the European strongman, boasts a whopping 484 different regions, with 429 of those with a population of

achieve economic and development goals for the union, and the extreme differences in wealth between the regions is a sore spot for policy makers. Open to regional bodies from Lapland to Lombardy and Bavaria to Basque country, the ERDF is is a pot worth 300 billion euro. Its approved projects have included state of the art conference

special feature > Europe

iCon, Daventry England

facilities and tourist attractions, infrastructure and cultural industries projects, and regional ‘branding’, all which help to keep Europe in the top spot for leisure and business visitors.

Scouting for the right project And it is not only open to poor regions. All regions are entitled to apply for funding if their project corresponds to the framework of the ERDF. The money is there if the project is right. It finances ‘direct aid to investments in companies infrastructures linked to research and innovation, telecommunications, environment, energy and transport, financial instruments (capital risk funds, local development funds, etc.) to support regional and local development and to foster cooperation between towns and regions and technical assistance measures’. The ERDF is currently running its 2007-2013 program. Some worry that due to increasing austerity measures across Europe, the budget for regional development will be cut starting in 2013. Stakeholders, including the Committee of the Regions in Brussels, are already lobbying the commission in an attempt to maintain the momentum of the ERDF.

Keeping it green Regions need help in fulfilling their economic goals, including building sustainable tourism practices. The EC declares itself to be particularly interested in sustainable tourism projects and aims ‘to support more sustainable patterns of tourism to enhance cultural and natural

Kalopanayiotis, Cyprus

heritage, develop mobility, as well as to promote ICT and innovative SMEs’. The remote Czech hillside project in Hostetin is a good example. Another sustainability project funded by the ERDF is the iCon venue in Daventry England, a town in the East Midlands region. The iCon is ‘a national landmark and an international beacon for sustainable construction’. Apart from providing 60 offices for businesses in the emerging market of sustainable construction, it will also feature conference facilities, support and advice. The £8.5 million building has been designed to achieve an ‘excellent’ rating from BREEAM, a worldwide environmental assessment method. As well as playing home to a diverse range of innovative, green businesses, the iCon will be a leading example of energy-efficiency and sustainability in its own right. Where did the money come from for such an innovative project? iCon has been part funded by the ERDF and is due open in the summer of 2011. Chris Lily of Advantage East Midlands says that further ERDF funding will be used to focus on the region’s key market in 2011, which has been designated ‘major conferences and exhibitions - maximising the potential of the region’s internationally significant conference venues, attracting visitors and showcasing the region to an international business audience’.

Meetings venues as instruments for prosperity It is enlightening to see that the EU

understands, at least to some extent, the economic importance of the meetings industry, as shown by the various meetings venues that have been financed by the ERDF. And these projects are listed under ‘Business Support’ projects as opposed to ‘Tourism’ on the Commission website. Hundreds of thousands of projects throughout the EU have benefited from investment from regional policy over the years. The database on the EC’s regional funding website, INFOREGIO has all the figures. Here are some success stories.

Cyprus In Kalopanayiotis, Cyprus, a number of visitor attractions, as well as a meeting space have been developed as part of a rural tourism drive, paid for by the local government in cooperation with the ERDF. The beautiful Lavrentios Residence has been converted into a cultural centre for events. Completed projects on the residence include the repair of old stone paths and other traditional structures in the village centre, as well as the restoration of ancient facades. It has encouraged the creation of accommodation facilities, cafés and restaurants catering for visitors.

Belgium ‘Already nearly 500,000 people are visiting the centre every year for the cinema, restaurants, heritage centre and tourist attractions’ says Wim Dries, Mayor of Genk. Due to be completed in 2011, C-Mine in Genk, near the city of Hasselt in Eastern Belgium is home to the Media and Design Academy, a Euroscoop

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special feature > Europe C-Mine, Genk - Belgium

10-screen cinema multiplex; and four creative SMEs based in the Design Innovation Laboratory. A new cultural centre, co-financed by the ERDF, will open in September 2010 with two large theatres, an exhibition hall and meeting venues. Various tourist attractions including an underground ‘experience centre’ in the air shaft of the former mine, and a Centre for Creative Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship, are due to open in 2011.

Slovenia The Slovenian Convention Bureau is one of the twenty-five recipients of grants from the ERDF. The Bureau will receive grants of up to €100,000 from the ERDF tender. It is part of the Push up Slovenia campaign, for which the Slovenian Convention Bureau implemented the Push up 1.0 project to promote Slovenia’s meetings and incentive offer to the markets of Great Britain, Germany, Italy and Belgium.

Hungary Another regional ‘success story’ is the impressive makeover of the wine region of Pannonhalma in Hungary. The Arch Abbey of Pannonhalma, one of the oldest historical monuments in Hungary, witnessed major developments to its buildings and surroundings in an effort to stimulate tourism in the region. With financial support from the ERDF, the work has resulted in complete renovation and the planting of over 1,000 trees which draws visitors from all over to this once unknown gem.

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Pannonhalma, Hungary

The visitor building includes a car park with eighty places, a restaurant and a conference hall with a capacity of 100-120 people, and an amphitheatre which will host cultural events.

2010, Euractiv reported that at an informal meeting of European ministers responsible for regional development on 22 November in Liège, France caused a stir by predicting a ‘decline’ in the future

It is enlightening to see that the EU understands, at least to some extent, the economic importance of the meetings industry, as shown by the various meetings venues that have been financed by the ERDF The future of the ERDF The passive meeting venue at Hostetin in the Czech Republic is a perfect example of EU regional policy at work. Noel Morrin is the senior vice president of Skanska, the Sustainability & Green Construction behind the project. He says Hostetin could never have been financed by the local community. The ERDF provided 50% of the money. The Kladno Environmental Education Center located in the city of Kladno, Czech Republic, is a low-energy building that utilizes renewable energy generated on site, and was constructed with natural construction materials. It has just been completed, again by Skanska, again with ERDF funds. Many stakeholders hope the 2014-2010 EU budget will be as generous to regional development as the last. In December

budget for regional policy. However, Central European member states appear to be strongly opposed to any decreases. For the meetings industry, that can only be a good thing. *The ERDF is a fund that supports regional projects in Europe. Meetings have been rightly recognised as factors in economic growth, as can be seen from a number of projects on the ERDF’s list of success stories.

special destination > Antwerp Station Area Meeting Cluster

special destination

Antwerp The first alternative for meetings and incentives

Many times we’ve written about Antwerp – Belgium’s second city and Europe’s second port – and with good reason. Antwerp seems to be bent on proving that ‘second city’ doesn’t mean ‘second best’, instead Antwerp shows that it means ‘first alternative’ for meetings, conferences and events. REPORT IGOR HENDRICKX

It’s always a pleasure to return to Antwerp: the people in general and the meetings industry in particular are always familiarly friendly and there’s always something new to do or see. And if we can believe Antwerp’s convention bureau – which I’m sure we can – 2011 won’t be any different. Antwerp Tourism & Convention offers professional tailored services free

of charge to meeting and incentive organizers. Thanks to an excellent cooperation with all local partners they ensure that your visit goes smoothly from arrival to departure. We interviewed Inge Marstboom and Frank De Neef, manager and marketing executive respectively of Antwerp’s Congress & Business Events bureau, in their office overlooking Antwerp’s Grand Market.

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special destination > Antwerp City Centre Meeting Cluster and the Offices of Antwerp’s convention bureau

Four meeting clusters, many more incentive novelties MIM: Let’s start with explaining how you’re putting Antwerp in the picture. Inge Marstboom: Antwerp’s four main assets are the following: fashion, Rubens, diamond, maritime. In the past we’ve always chosen this thematic approach – for instance: the MIM supplement ‘The Other Antwerp 6’ – and it has proved to be very popular. This time, however, we decided to take a more practical approach in describing the possibilities of the many geographic meeting areas of Antwerp. The thematic approach inspires people unfamiliar with our fair city to organise a meeting or incentive trip in Antwerp, while the area approach allows people already familiar with Antwerp to determine how and where exactly they’re going to organise their business event. Antwerp has four major meeting areas or clusters: ‘t Eilandje, the City Centre, the Station Area and De Singel.


‘t Eilandje (the Island) is the urban development area in and around the old dock area of the city. Its main attractions are the river and the towering MAS, the new city museum which will open its doors May 17. It has been rediscovered as the ideal residential and business area. Warehouses are being converted in office buildings, restaurants and bars and in meeting and event venues. The closeness to the river provides not only ever changing views, but also plenty of maritime activities. You should know because you’ve already reported about this cluster in a previous issue.


It might come as a surprise but the City Centre is located in… the city centre. It’s an area of small neighbourhoods, each with its own distinct flavor. There’s the area around the

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Grand Market and our magnificent cathedral with its narrow streets, bars and restaurants. There’s the Meir, Belgium’s most popular shopping street with as prominent venues: the Stadsfeestzaal (City Event Hall) and the former Royal Palace. A bit further is the Theatre Place where many big and small theatres are available for meetings and B2B events.


The Station Area is perhaps the most promising and purely meeting oriented cluster. Centered around Central Station (voted one of the most beautiful stations in the world), it’s directly accessible from most major cities by high-speed train. The planned congress centre will be located next door to the station. Several hotels (Radisson Blu, Park Inn, Lindner and others) provide plenty of rooms, while the Antwerp Zoo is an incentive in itself.


Finally, De Singel area is located on the outskirts of the city – the name refers to Antwerp’s inner ring road. Accessibility is the main asset of this meeting cluster: Antwerp is one of the major transit points in the Benelux. The area also allows for larger venues and assorted hotels, as well as for several cultural spots. An in-depth report can be found further in this destination report. These clusters each contain the three main elements for a successful corporate event: meeting and event venues, hotel accommodations and incentive opportunities. While Antwerp provides everything within striking distance, these clusters provide it within walking or even hailing distance. Needless to say these clusters form attractive meeting packets, even though the different industry partners are not yet fully working together and when they are, the potential will be limitless.

MIM: How well did Antwerp’s meeting industry do in 2010? Did you notice any significant difference with previous years? Frank De Neef: We had a very good year. During the latter half of 2010, Belgium was responsible for the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. As you know this provides the meeting industry of the country in question with the challenge and opportunity to host several large international meetings. Apart from informal meetings, several councils of ministers and other European top meetings took place across Belgium. Because of the importance of Antwerp as a European port city and transit point, we were offered the opportunity to host among others the Council of Ministers of Transport as well as the Europe-Brasilia Top. It took some extra effort on our part, but Antwerp pulled these events off with flair and without flaw. It only goes to prove the immense potential of our city as a meeting destination: if you can handle European Union meetings, you can handle anything. Apart from boosting business, it also boosted our confidence and the confidence of our partners: we’re ambitious for the future.

MIM: How ambitious? What novelties can we discover in Antwerp and what can we expect in the near and far future? Inge Marstboom: We’ve already mentioned the opening of the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom) and of course the plans for the Flanders Concert & Congress Centre. Currently, it’s already possible for international travelers to land in Paris or Amsterdam and catch a high-speed train to Antwerp. In 2012 train access will become even easier with the development of a direct train connection between Antwerp and Brussels Airport. These are just the great and the grand projects. Smaller but not less important projects are also being developed.

special destination > Antwerp


De Singel meeting Cluster

Antwerp Tourism & Convention Antwerp Tourism & Convention offers professional tailored services free of charge to meeting and incentive organizers. Thanks to an excellent cooperation with all local partners they ensure that your visit goes smoothly from arrival to departure.

As can be seen on industry fairs such as EIBTM and IMEX, more and more emphasis is put on both environmental and social sustainable development and Antwerp is not different. We’re currently developing a green label for meeting and conference locations and rooms. This is done in the context of the Kunststedenactieplan (Art Cities Action Plan) of the Flemish government. Together with Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, Louvain and Malines, we’re working on ‘greening’ Antwerp and Flanders as international business (and leisure) destinations. Flanders is also a region with one of the highest concentrations of universities and colleges on the world. The University of Antwerp is an important centre for medical and chemical research. By working together with the university – they have established their own congress cell – we’re hoping to attract many new association conferences to Antwerp. While the university’s city campus is located in the City Centre cluster, its Middelheim and Drie Eiken campuses are located in the De Singel meeting cluster. Academics and associations will certainly see the advantages of lecture halls and meeting rooms surrounded by young and trendy bars and venues . Starting March, business travelers will be able to get the City Card. It offers them Cluster ‘t Eilandje MAS [Museum aan de Stroom]

the ultimate key to unlock all of Antwerp’s secrets for a period of 48 hours. The Antwerp City Card not only saves money but also gives them a chance to experience the real Antwerp. Free entry to all Antwerp museums and listed churches, including the world famous Cathedral of Our Lady. The offer includes entry to permanent collections and all special exhibitions. Additionally, discounts are given on attractions, sightseeing, bike rental and typical Antwerp and Belgian products such as beer and chocolates. The Antwerp City Card is an asset to any incentive trip. Finally, to cater to the growing needs of small groups, boutique tours were developed. Even though in group, it’s still a very personal and intimate approach. They take you to places which are not always visible or accessible to the general public. They let you discover places that have sculpted the landscape and history of Antwerp. For instance, there’s a tour that lets you see behind the scenes of the oldest finest leather company of the world, another shows you the atelier of a designer specialized in chocolate jewellery and yet another lets you enter the cathedral after hours and see its magnificent Rubens collection. In short, we’ve developed these VIP tours to make people feel special. In short, we have the ambition and, what’s more, the ability to receive even the most ambitious corporate planner in such an ambitious way, that he’ll return again and again. But why take our word for it? Let Antwerp’s most celebrated citizen tell you after he travelled throughout Europe: ‘Best of all, I should like to go home to my Antwerp and remain there all my life.’ – P.P. Rubens, 1630

• Free advice and information about convention, meeting and incentive opportunities. • Help looking for original ideas for main and side activities. • Information about DMCs and PCOs for the full logistical organisation of your meeting or incentive. • Suggesting the right locations and organising site visits. • Enquiries about availability and free of charge requests from hotels, convention and exhibition centres, group restaurants and other supplies. • Promotional materials such as brochures, maps of the city, CD-ROMS and photos. • Guidance and advice for the preparation of a bid book. T. +32 3 338 81 81 F. +32 3 338 81 32

Frank & Inge

Antwerp’s Meeting Clusters ✓ ’t Eilandje .................................................MIM112 ✓ De Singel ..................................................MIM114 City Centre ......................................................... ? Central Station ................................................. ?

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City of Antwerp

Unique venues in a historical setting Tailor made advice for meetings - incentives - conventions - events Antwerp Tourism & Congress | Grote Markt 15, BE-2000 Antwerpen Phone: +32 3 338 81 81 | Fax: +32 3 338 81 32 | |


210x270_MIM082009_MICE_09.indd 1 +32 3 338 81 81 19-08-2009 16:57:52

special destination > Antwerp





De Singel, Antwerp’s most accessible meeting cluster The best way to understand the lay of the land is by viewing it from a bird’s eye and the best way to get a bird’s eye perspective of De Singel is by going to the 16th floor of the Crowne Plaza Antwerp Hotel. Looking out through those broad windows, you have an excellent view of the three different connotations of De Singel: the international culture centre, the inner ring road and the meeting and incentive area around the latter. TEXT ROSE KELLEHER

In 1950, an international open air sculpture exhibition was held in the park. The success of the exhibition inspired the idea of a permanent exhibition. Then there’s deSingel, the international art centre, the Sportpaleis and Lotto Arena, two multipurpose arenas for concerts, sporting events, festivals and fairs. It’s clear that De Singel is an area full of possibilities, full of interesting locations, full of reasons for an in-depth report.

Grand venues for grand events To begin with there’s deSingel, the international art centre. deSingel’s intention

Generally speaking, most people associate motorways with grey, industrial areas, but in this case it’s actually quite green. Like many major cities, Antwerp has its own

De Singel also provides a lot of cultural diversions. The Middelheim park contains an open air sculpture museum with a collection of more than 300 works of art.


©Jan Kempenaers


green lungs and these happen to be located alongside De Singel. The Nachtegalenpark, with the Vogelenzang, Den Brandt and Middelheim parks, totals 90 hectares of park land just to the south of the city. Vogelenzang, Middelheim and Den Brandt were the private property of a few noble families. They came to relax in the ‘gardens of plaisance’. The city of Antwerp bought the grounds in 1910 and opened them to the general public. Nowadays they’re pleasant gardens for group sports, open air events and other group incentives.

©Jan Kempenaers

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The obvious advantage of this area is the accessibility: all hotels, congress centres and special venues are within five minutes of the city’s ring road, which is connected to several of Europe’s major motorways. The advantage is so obvious that Antwerp’s business district is located in the same area, which in itself is another reason to organize corporate meetings here. Combine this with numerous large parking lots and you’ve got many good practical reasons for choosing to organise an event in Antwerp’s De Singel area.

deSingel, blauwe zaal

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conďŹ gurable rooms, with all facilities

The Meeting Centre at Antwerp expo is the place to be for your seminar, conference or meeting. Depending on your needs and requirements, we can offer you the perfect space. You can welcome 10 to 500 people in our 6 conďŹ gurable rooms, which are all equipped to the ďŹ nest detail. Extra beneďŹ ts for your guests: a central and easily accessible location, 3.000 parking places and stylish hotels in the immediate vicinity, with separate entrances to the Meeting Centre.

Jan Van Rijswijcklaan 191 BE-2020 Antwerpen

1 website for all info:

T. +32 (0)3 260 81 20 F. +32 (0)3 237 87 71

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Š Jan Rigouts

Good meetings usually start with a nice chat. At Crowne Plaza Antwerp we provide more than the usual. The city of Antwerp at your feet, thatĂ&#x2022;s a start! Gerard Le Grellelaan 10, 2020 Antwerpen, Belgium T: +32 (0)3 259 75 00 -

Crowne Plaza Antwerp provides a unique business, meeting & event concept: AnnA, living & bar | 12 meetingrooms | 2 Babbel meetingboxes | 2 skylounges



special destination > Antwerp

It’s over 22.120 m2 includes 4 modern exhibition halls, a conference and seminar centre with 6 modular rooms and 3 restaurants. It’s the perfect location for small to medium trade fairs and congresses.

is to become a vigorous and large-scale arts campus that presents and produces contemporary and international art and makes it accessible to the broadest possible audience. The artistic disciplines to which deSingel has committed itself are theatre, dance, music and architecture.

While deSingel and Antwerp Expo are located towards the southern end of De Singel, the other large venue of this meeting cluster lies at the northern end: Antwerps Sportpaleis (Antwerp Sport Palace) and the Lotto Arena. The Antwerp Antwerp Sport Palace is an easily accessible multifunctional event hall for many large scale concerts, shows, sport events, festivals, fairs and – last but not least – congresses (about 115 yearly events with over 1.5 million visitors). In addition to its main hall with a grand total of nearly 14.000 seats , there’s also a Hospitality Centre, a Backstage Lounge and 3 foyers.

As a multidisciplinary, large-scale international arts campus deSingel operates from a unique infrastructure: a medium sized concert hall (968 seats), a large hall for dance and theater (801 seats) and a small auditorium for lectures (90 seats). The largest hall can be rented for concerts, symposia an academic lectures. That, however, is not the main attraction of deSingel. It’s added value are the many performances which will enhance any corporate evening. The hotels closest to deSingel are Crowne Plaza Antwerp and Ramada Plaza.

© Antwerps Sportpaleis

© Jan Rigouts

Lotto Arena Middenplein

The Lotto Arena is connected to the Sport Palace and may not be its equal in quantity but certainly in quality. In fact, it’s a smaller copy with each of its 5218 seats having its equivalent in the larger hall, making it possible to switch to a larger format if attendance is higher than expected. The Lotto Arena has two reception rooms: the Lotto Suites. Each can receive up to 300 guests and has its own separate entrance, cloak room and kitchen.

Located in Den Brandt Park, lies De Baak’s latest learning facility. De Baak is a Dutch firm specializing in providing motivational, inspirational and insightful experiences through several programmes. In the coach house of Castle Den Brandt. The green surroundings of this location certainly attribute to the success of De Baak’s newest facility. Incidentally, the Castle Den Brandt and the close-by Castle Middelheim are special venues of the classical type. The Regus Centre is part of a modern state of the art building complex. Its green

De Baak - Het Koetshuis

© Het Koetshuis

Not far from deSingel, Crowne Plaza or Ramada Plaza, lies Antwerp Expo, which should be well known to our readers. Since 1958, it has been Antwerp’s major exhibition centre. Each year, more than 60 exhibitions and as many meetings, events and conferences are organised. Because Antwerp Expo is so well situated in the Antwerp region, it is the meeting place for 7000 companies and 1.2 million visitors.

Specialised and special venues

Lotto Suites

De Baak - Het Koetshuis ©


Meeting Room Regus

MIM 29

special destination > Antwerp Stay in the renovated Ramada rooms


Ramada Plaza Antwerp, a place for business to stay



Green and cultural incentive ideas are just minutes away from every venue and hotel granite and glass construction appeals to one’s imagination. Several meeting rooms and a business lounge complete the interior picture. While Regus is mostly concerned with long-term rental, it’s certainly a good option for small to medium basic meetings. TRIX serves as a work and meeting place, facilities center, concert hall/organizer and as a pacesetter and a platform for various musical initiatives. It’s concert hall, Hof Ter Lo, which was acquired in 2009 can also be rented for private events. With the musical expertise of the staff, funky events are guaranteed. For a long time, the ALM Group has specialized in providing a new home for training, meetings, seminars and congresses. Thanks to a thorough renovation and expansion, there are since 2011 20 meeting rooms with a capacity from 2 to 400 people, high quality catering facilities and the possibility to organise a lunch, dinner and or reception for up to 1100 guests. Is it a surprise that ALM stands for Antwerp Learning & Meeting Point?

MIM 30

Finally, the Provinciehuis is perhaps the least well known meeting venue of De Singel. Wrongly so! The Provinciehuis offers an attractive and reasonable framework for seminars and conferences. Surrounded by landscaped gardens and lined with art, the two rooms (100 & 380 pax.) form the basic packet, but additional well equipped rooms are also available.

Located in a sparkling, multi-facetted tower, Ramada Plaza Antwerp is a diamond of a business hotel. Surrounded by the city’s business district and right across from the art centre, this 4-star hotel is ideal for combining meetings with incentives and it will become even more so in the future. Currently half of all 210 rooms are being totally renovated. The work is scheduled to end in June and in 2012 the other 105 rooms will be renovated. This enormous project will further improve the inherent possibilities of Ramada Plaza Antwerp. With nearly 1000m2 of meeting space divided over 12 multi-purpose rooms, up to 500 people can attend in theatre style. The hotel’s very own discotheque can be used for evening events that are sure to become hits. In addition, the terrace and garden are ideal for open air cocktails. Don’t hesitate! Book your event now and drive your car straight to Ramada Plaza Antwerp!

Acclaimed accommodations The Crowne Plaza Antwerp sits between the business district and the local parks. It was completely renovated during the last few months to give business travelers a chance to see Antwerp without leaving the hotel. Two luxurious board rooms are accessible from the lobby for small meetings, while 7 new meeting rooms and 2 beautifully appointed executive skylounges are available on the 16th floor with a 360° view of the area. Like we mentioned in our last issue, hotel chains are sure to provide the best basic (and more) service for meetings and events. The Scandic hotels are no different. Known for its sustainable approach and standard services, like free internet

and fitness access, Scandic Antwerp is an elegant and efficient solution for meetings and incentives. 15 meeting rooms and 204 stylish rooms are available just 10 minutes from Antwerp Airport and even less from the ring road. With 126 comfortable and well-equipped rooms, Campanile Antwerp has everything to help you relax, move freely and work efficiently if here on business. It’s the ideal hotel for small meetings and is a comfortable choice for business travelers. While it ‘only’ has 6 meeting rooms, its location alongside De Singel and near one of the inroads towards the city centre makes it also interesting for short incentive trips.

MIM > Antwerp special

MIM > Antwerp special

Together with Amsterdam, Vienna, Zürich and Valencia, we also form the “Cool Capitals”.

MIM > Antwerp special

Unlike a lot of bureaus, we don’t work with members but with the whole group of organizers and suppliers

Flanders Congress Centre A New Competitor on the European Conference Market

diamond fashion gastronomy

diamond fashion Inge Marstboom A gratefulgastronomy sector and a great city

Philip Heylen High ambitions for Antwerp



In 2008 MIM magazine interviewed Philip Heylen, the vice-mayor for Culture and Tourism in Antwerp. He told us about his inspired and great ambitions for Antwerp as a congress city. Now, one and a half year later, we visited him for a follow up.

the Other Antwerp 6 D est i n a t i o n Re p o r t A n twe r p e n i s a s p e c i a l e d i t i o n of M I M m a g a z i n e N o 1 0 6 - AU G U ST 20 0 9 p u b l i s h e d by M e e t i n g M e d i a Co m p a ny ( Be l g i u m) - w w w. M I M m a g a z i n e.e u

MIM: Our readers haven’t forgotten your promise to improve the international image of Antwerp. Has this been realised?

architecture water art

Philip Heylen: Each day the offices of Tourism, Congress and Culture all work hard together to improve Antwerp’s international fame. This all depends on two things: Antwerp as a product and a good marketing and promotion campaign. In the last few months a lot has happened to make Antwerp stand out and more is to come. The iconic MAS (Museum At the Stream) will open soon and already enjoys international attention. Another iconic building will be the new congress centre, for which the Flemish government has promised 57,2 million euro. Last month we launched the Dutch Capitool Travel Guide and the English version will soon follow. This is the touristic guide and really puts Antwerp next to the other metropolises on the bookshelf. We’re also trying to attract more international hotels – with whom we

ies”. We share a stand and act as a group at the larger international meeting fairs (IMEX, EITBM, and EMIF). Together with Amsterdam, Vienna, Zürich and Valencia, we also form – on a more touristic level – the “Cool Capitals”.

already work closely together – through city renovation projects. Lastly, we have signed several agreements with Antwerp Airport, Brussels Airport and Brussels Airlines to make travel to Antwerp much easier. As you can see, we’re constantly making progress and that’s how I want it.

MIM: Antwerp is known in the Meetings Industry as a second city. ICCA statistics place Valencia as the first of the second cities. Will Antwerp compete for this position?

MIM: Branding has become very important for cities. What does Antwerp as a brand represent? PH: Meeting in Antwerp is meeting in an easily accessible historic city. Antwerp is a pocket-sized metropolis: the historic city centre, the international port, diamonds, fashion, culture and gastronomy are all combined with accessibility and small scale. These are the most important trumps of Antwerp.

PH: Fly with the eagle or scratch with the chickens. We’re ambitious and naturally we want to be the best second city. Once we have the new congress centre, we will be able to fully challenge cities like Zürich, Valencia and even Barcelona.

Antwerp special is a production of Interviews and texts: Marcel A.M. Vissers, Editor in Chief Igor Hendrickx, Assistant Editorial OfÀcer

PH: We’re already working together with Ghent, Bruges, Mechlin and Louvain to profile ourselves as the “Flemish Art Cit-

In March 2008 a new congress bureau was established, focussing exclusively on managing congresses and business events in the city of Antwerp. Leading the effort is Inge Marstboom, Manager Congress & Business Events. MIM visited her in her bureau on the Great Market Square.

the Other Antwerp 6

architecture water art Inge Marstboom: It’s true that you have to prove yourself, but I like a challenge: variety is the spice of life. You should also not forget that I’ve been working for the Tourism Bureau since 1997, where I have helped organize such events as the “Fashion Year” and the “Van Dyck Year”. A lot of contacts from the tourism industry return in the meetings industry. Professionally, I don’t feel unprepared or new. Personally, it makes everything easier to work in such a grateful sector with such a great city to promote.

they have many permanent bureaus in Europe, Asia and America. This helps a lot to raise our international profile, as do the many fairs and events that we try to attend: IMEX, EITBM, EMIF and Event. We’re also member of MPI and will become a member of DMAI. Finally, we collaborate regularly with our local industry to organise sitevisits and publish advertisements in foreign magazines.

to offer, but within closer vicinity of each other. That’s Antwerp’s strongest asset: everything is on walking distance. It truly is a city on human scale.

MIM > Antwerp special

IM: We’ll be launching a new and much more professional website with a databank, contact lists, etcetera. The new MAS will need launching as well, since it opens its doors in Spring 2011. The promotion of the new congress centre will also start in 2010. And all the while I’ll be working on further expanding my network. Busy, busy, busy...

IM: True, the new congress centre is already very popular in Belgium. Their name, “Zalen van de Zoo” (Halls of the Zoo) really attracts a lot of attention. With its iconic historic façade, central location and easy accessibility, it hardly needs promotion. Abroad, however, we first need to work on

Antwerp Tourisme & Congress Grote Markt 15 – 2000 Antwerp Phone: +32 3 338 81 81 Fax: +32 3 338 81 32

RVE: The demand for a completely dedicated congress centre in Antwerp isn’t high enough to be cost-effective. This is a practical and more profitable solution. We’ve arranged with the orchestra that the planning of congresses will be given priority over their concerts. Anyway, the planning of a large congress always starts earlier than the planning of a new orchestra season, so we foresee no problems in this regard. Architecturally, it will become a classic concert hall with reverberation, but this will be neutralised electronically for congresses. The entrance hall will be expanded to 2000m2 – more than twice its original size – and can serve as exhibition room, dinner room, etc. While the preliminary session will take place in the main hall, the subsequent smaller meetings can take place in breakout rooms on the upper floors. Additional meeting rooms will be available in the grand Central Station. One of these even has a glass wall overlooking the HST trains. This way we’ll be able to easily accommodate 2000 attendees. Because most hotels are within walking distance, we won’t be integrating the three chair principle. There’s also no need for modernising the building’s exterior: it’s

already an iconic and historic building, we don’t need to change that.

MIM: That brings us to our next question. The FCCC is a member of the Historic Conference Centres of Europe. Will the new centre remain a member of this organisation? Will you strengthen this or do you see other possibilities? RVE: Most likely the new centre shall remain part of HCCE, but we do question its added value. Perhaps the whole concept behind the HCCE should be rethought, because at the moment the members still compete with each other. In my opinion the HCCE limits itself thus to merely a nice placard on the façade. There should be less competition and more cooperation and if this happens, we might even discuss increasing contributions.

MIM: The new congress centre has a very strategic location. Marcel Vissers once called it Astrid Meeting Square: a neighbourhood with hotels and congress centres within walking distance of each other. Moreover, the Central Station is located right next door. How will you make use of this? RVE: Transportation is, marketingwise, our highest trump. There is a distinct difference between a fair and a congress.

solve this problem. Nowadays the Zoo has once again become a pearl of this city – especially with the recent birth of baby elephant Kai-Mook (Thai for ‘pearl’). Remained the problem of the FCCC. The FCCC – better known as the Elisabeth-hall – functioned primarily as a classic concert hall. The congress part was never fully integrated. Luckily, everyone concerned was aware of the problem and all agreed Antwerp needed a real congress centre. Sadly, no one could agree on how exactly this would be accomplished. Should the new centre be located in the very centre of the city or should it be moved to a more remote location? For a long time it looked like the new centre would be built on the Island, the modern neighbourhood at the old docks. The construction of the MAS in the same area, made a new congress centre there nearly impossible. So that idea was finally discarded for the renovation of the old congress centre in its current location at the Astrid Square. The monetary

discussions between the different levels of government (city, province and region) were finally resolved in the beginning of 2009: 57,2 million euro would be set aside for the complete renovation and rebuilding of the FCCC.

MIM: What exactly will happen now? When can we expect the new congress centre to open and what special changes will we see? RVE: The concert hall will probably be finished in 2013, maybe even 2012. The construction of the congress parts will go more smoothly and is planned for 2012. Let me explain this distinction. The Elisabeth-hall will be converted into a an acoustic concert hall with 2100 seats. That way, the Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra will finally have the space it always needed and previously lacked. The idea is that congresses will take place during the day, while concerts and repetitions will be scheduled for the evening.


MIM > Antwerp special

MIM > Antwerp special

The Other Antwerp 6 The international name and fame of Antwerp has noticeably increased since last year’s interview with Philip Heylen. Elegant proof of this was provided by Vanity Fair when they published an article in their April 2009-issue, saying: “The art is amazing, and it's everywhere you look; the fashion scene is vibrant, and the design is gorgeous; there's a cool café culture, and the streets are practically paved with diamonds. When you think about it, there's not much about Antwerp that is less than totally adorable.” In the following pages, we will verify that, apart from being adorable, Antwerp has also become an excellent place to organise meetings and incentives. In imitation of the Antwerp Six, the group of inÁuential fashion designers that Àrst put the new Antwerp on the map, we will showcase the Other Antwerp Six that make Antwerp the meeting place it is today. Water, as the source of Antwerp’s prosperity, deserves an important place. The wealth of Antwerp is most prominently displayed in the Art and Architecture on the streets and in the museums. For example, the daring building on our cover is the future Port Authority Building, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. One simply cannot forget that Antwerp is the Diamond capital of the world and an important Fashion city. In any case, each event will be augmented by the gastronomic experience that has become so typical for Antwerp. Therefore – last but not least – we will focus on the Gastronomy in Antwerp. You can view extended texts and other meeting and incentive possibilities on our website:

A large conference hall with +/- 2071 seats A large entrance/exhibition hall (+/- 2000m2) A marble ballroom in Colonial style ( +/- 465m2) Exclusive boardroom in Art Deco style. 12 break-out rooms. A new hotel is planned. 1200 hotel beds on walking distance.

In 2012 Antwerp will have a modern, state of the art, dedicated congress centre in a classic Art Nouveau setting. More than 1500 people will be able to meet and convene in the heart of the Diamond City. MIM: Yet again a combination of a concert hall and a congress centre. Is that wise?

Rudy Van Eysendeyk: My answer to the first part of the question will be short: yes, it took too long. As to why it took so long, that’s a longer story. Perhaps it is best to explain the current situation first. The Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp (KMDA) is made up out of several institutions: the Antwerp Zoo, the Wild Animal Park Planckendael, the nature reserve De Zegge, the Serpentarium in Blankenberge and the Flanders Concert & Congress Centre (FCCC). When I became director in 2001, the KMDA was in dire financial straits. The animal and nature parks no longer turned a sufficient profit to renovate and repair. My experience as crisis-manager in the private sector and my political connections from my years as director-general of the Flemish Parliament in Brussels, served me well to

MIM: Finally, what have you planned for 2010?

MIM: The new congress centre will significantly simplify your job in the future. How will you translate this to the public at large?

IM: Communication is the most important part of the job. I believe it’s important to regularly communicate with everyone in the local meetings industry (hotels, venues, …). Unlike a lot of bureaus, we don’t work with members but with the whole group

MIM: Antwerp has been waiting for al long time for its very own congress centre. Didn’t this take too long and how did it happen?


MIM > Antwerp special

• • • • • • •


Rudy Van Eysendeyk

D est i n a t i o n Re p o r t A n twe r p e n i s a s p e c i a l e d i t i o n of M I M m a g a z i n e N o 1 0 6 - AU G U ST 20 0 9

MIM: Networking is an important part of the of organizers and suppliers. Associations our destination promotion before we can p u b l i s hindustry. e d by InMsuch e e t iansetting, g M e disn’t i a Co a ny like ( Belimitations l g i u m) and - wreally w w. M I M m a g a z i npromote e.e u the centre. Antwerp doesn’t enjoy meetings it m pdon’t appreciate difficult for you to be the new face of a new this open and neutral approach. I also work the same name recognition as Paris or Congress Bureau? How do you cope? closely with Tourism Flanders, because London, even though we have just as much


With the appearance of the new congress centre Antwerp will be reborn as the new leading Second City of the European congress market.

MIM interviewed Rudy Van Eysendeyk, the director of the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp and responsible for the current Flanders Concert & Congress Centre. We were welcomed into his beautiful Art-Nouveau ofÀce suit, located in the Zoo entrance building, overlooking Astrid Square and right next to the congress centre.



MIM: You probably already know how to play Antwerp as a trump card. What’s your strategy?

MIM: With which other European city would you twin Antwerp? Why?

Only recently has Antwerp started to work on renovating and expanding its many advantages. What Antwerp lacked the most, was a large modern congress centre. Luckily this is the past tense. It looks like there will be an Antwerp congress centre after all in 2012.

Fairs need a lot of parking space, because most attendees live in the same region and arrive by car. Congresses, on the other hand, cater more towards an international public. Most of these people will first arrive by plane in Brussels and will then take the direct train connection (planned for 2011) to Antwerp. When they arrive in the Central Station, they can immediately go to the congress centre. Practically all public transports pass by the Astrid Square, so people arriving from outside the city centre will still have no problem. It’s already possible for guests to walk between the congress centre, their hotel and the station without having to face the weather: an underground floor connects all three. Everything truly is within walking distance and when not attending meetings, one can always visit the city centre and its many delights.

Through a cultural discovery, with a focus on contemporary design, architecture and history, you learn to know Antwerp as a fashion city. This guided tour stops at shops, buildings and other places that are important for the development of Antwerp as a fashion city.



In 1988, with the advent of the Antwerp Six, Antwerp became a notable location for fashion and design. The initial inspirational success was followed by a new generation of designers in the Nineties. Naturally, Hospital A truly special location for events can be found on fashion has also conquered the Southside. There you can visit Hospital, a luxurithe streetscape: fashion stores ous fashion store whose ambition it is to become and design centres are everythe most striking store in Europe. With an in-house where. Since 2002, Antwerp wine bar and adjacent lunch-apero bar, they also has its own fashion centre: are already well on their way. The store was designed by architect Will Erens, who the ModeNatie. In this unique also designed the new Martini Bars building in the historic cenand several Grey Goose Bars. The old stables of the Hippodrome have tre of Antwerp, the Flanders been turned into an immense Fashion Institute, the MoMu, space with high ceilings and the Antwerp Fashion Acadharmonious, recycled building emy, an artistic book store and materials. Despite the size, Hosa brasserie have all found a new pital feels cozy and is the perfect place if you’re looking for an home. The yearly fashion show exclusive selection of high of the Antwerp Academy has fashion and designer become a major event, drawing brands. The store is very welcoming of more than 6000 visitors from events: it is possible all over the world. to arrange a wine


The highest international mark of approval for polished diamond is the “Cut in Antwerp” label.


Diamond In 1476 the modern diamond cutting technique was developed in Antwerp by Lodewijk van Bercquem. Ever since Antwerp has been the diamond centre of the world. Antwerp World Diamond Centre plays an important role in regulating professional ethics, training, setting standards and promoting the interests of Antwerp as a centre of the diamond industry. Diamond Museum Unfortunately, the increased security in and around the hundreds of diamond stores has made it highly impossible for outsiders to organize events in a diamond-related setting. The only location still remaining, is the Diamond Museum on the Astrid Square.

MIM: Lastly, will the name change? RVE: Probably. Flanders Concert & Congress Centre is a mouthful and doesn’t mouth easily. Hardly anybody knows it by that name and usually calls it the Elisabeth-hall. Already we’ve been using a different appellation: “Zalen van de Zoo” (Rooms of the Zoo). It’s a work in progress.

Located right next door to the new conference centre on the Astrid Square, the Diamond Museum introduces visitors to Antwerp’s 500-year diamond history. The museum is certainly worth a visit for those interested in the technological aspects of the diamond industry, but also for the more jewellery-

minded. Aside from an impressive collection of historical and contemporary diamond creations, one can also see a diamond cutter at work. The museum regularly mounts fascinating temporary exhibitions.

provide you with inspiration.

The museum regularly organizes nocturnes on demand. There’s even a special “Sparkling Diamond”cocktail for up to 100 guests. Cocktails are served with a small stone in the ice cubes. This stone can be checked on the spot to see if it’s a real diamond or merely a zircon. One can also arrange for diamond pralines as gifts. The museum staff has built up a lot of dazzling experience and they’re always willing to

The Antwerp Tourism & Congress Bureau also offers two guided tours through Antwerp. “Antwerpen Schitterende Diamantstad” takes you on a historic tour through the diamond industry. “Diamantwijk” is shorter and limits itself to the current industry and the diamond district. Both tours are coupled to a visit of the Diamond Museum.



The Waterfront and the Island are the two Antwerp neighbourhoods most connected to the water. Thanks to municipal renovation projects both neighbourhoods have become very trendy. In addition to the many cafés, bars and restaurants, all water-related locations for events can be found here. The fresh air, the sound of the waves and the wide vistas, ensure the perfect atmosphere for meetings and incentives.

Antwerp used to have a wide network of channels, waterways and streams: the ruien, vlieten and vesten. These medieval channels were later used as sewers and were overarched. An adventurous tour of these underground waterways can be arranged through the Antwerp Tourism & Congress Bureau.

You name it, they do it … as long as it’s on a sailboat: after-work sail, initiation sailing, training, races. Through their network of contacts they can arrange an incentive for up to 100 people. For example, they took part in the Antwerp Race – the largest sailing race in the Benelux – and in the Schelderegatta. In September 2009 they organized the Juris’ Cup in Antwerp. You can sail or charter their ship(s) from Antwerp, Zeebrugge or Breskens. From these ports you can sail off into the sunset from and to most anywhere.


Zaal Stuurboord Zaal Stuurboord is located right at the bend of the Scheldt and is easily accessible by car, boat or public transport. This multifunctional venue room can be divided into five units, each named after an international port: New-Orleans, Rio, Kaapstad, Singapore and Antwerp. The flexible acoustic walls allow you to divide the venue in different rooms or to adjust to the number of people. This flexibility can also be found in the amount of different events that can be organized for up to 1200 people. What makes Zaal Stuurboord really special is probably the best view over the river and the mood-adjustable bar and large terrace from where one can observe the harbour and the old city.

Sometimes after a conference, fresh air and the wind in your hair are just what the doctor ordered. What better way to clear your mind and relax in the company of your friends, colleagues and associates than to spend a few hours on a sailboat. developed this concept in Antwerp and in only a few months time gained a lot attention and experience.

As a prominent fashion city, Antwerp had to have its own fashion museum. The MoMu is housed in the Modenatie – a building that serves as hubnub of all things fashionable. Behind the Neo-Classic exterior of the Modenatie, one would not suspect such a modern interior with warm colours, a wooden stairwell and wide open spaces. It’s possible to arrange a whole day of meetings in the MoMu: there’s an auditorium, several meeting rooms and a large entrance hall – perfectly suited for receptions or other events. In addition one can ask for a guided tour of the running exhibition in the museum after opening hours or one can participate in several workshops (on request) or fashion walks.



tasting, a reception for up to 150 guests and you can even pass the night in one of three suites. Hospital is no Lifestyle store, but a Love life store.

Hoedensalon CRZ A very particular fashion experience can be found in the shadow of the Cathedral. There lies a small hat shop, owned and run by Caroline de Roy van Zuydewijn. For more than twenty years, she has designed her own hats and her clientele includes royalty, nobility and celebrity personages. Apart from selling hats, she also offers a Tea experience. Up to forty people can be welcomed

Caroline de Roy van Zuydewijn

MIM 10


special destination > Antwerp

special destination > Antwerp

special destination > Antwerp

What was once a proud and important part of the city, booming with commercial activity, has been neglected and abandoned for years. Not until the 70’s did anyone come to realize the potential of this area, and it took another 20 years for specific redevelopment plans to be thought out. But now ‘t Eilandje is in full development and promises to become one of Antwerp’s most popular districts.

jazz performances. There’s a restaurant and a wonderful terrace right on the docks. All the rooms open into a 70 meter long covered street that connects the city center to the old harbor district. It can also be used for markets or fashion shows. The warehouse has a huge 2000 m2 basement full of archways where exhibitions can be held. There’s even room for a marketplace inside. All the beautiful historical rooms are available for private individuals, companies, organizations and governments for events of all kinds and sizes.

This historical warehouse underwent a radical renovation. The old structure was for the greater part conserved, but more light was brought into the building by an ingenious construction of light tunnels. It has become an architectural masterpiece made of glass, wood and concrete. Since 2006, the city’s archives are housed on the upper floors. The rest of the building (a total available space of 4000 m2) was designed to be one of the main socio-cultural hotspots of the city. There is a concert hall for classical and

© Jan Crab

A closer look at one of the city’s main development projects

‘t Eilandje (Little Island) became a part of Antwerp in the 16th century. However, we have to look at Napoleon for the origins of its current state. He had the dock bearing his name (the Bonaparte Dock) dug out in the Antwerp port area for military reasons. In those days the district already had existing waterways, warehouses, enterprises and breweries. By 1869, the area was completely surrounded by water, earning its current name. Around the year 1900, it served as a point of departure for almost three million emigrants leaving for America. In the early 20th century, due to the internationalization of the shipping industry, the port and the city started to become more and more separated from each other. The people left the district and the island was abandoned. In the 90’s, it was decided that the Scheldt river should become a central part of the city again. Antwerp was to become: ‘the city on the river’. The revitalization of the island was an important part of this masterplan. It is now an area in full transformation and the city’s most important renewal project for the coming years. The Island has had an interesting past, but its future looks even more promising. Let us take a look at some of its main attractions.

Sint-Felix Pakhuis

The MAS The pride of the island is the towering new MAS museum. This 60 meter high structure will become a new landmark between the city and the harbor. It will be an innovating site, full of stories about the river, the city, the docks and the world. Its five exhibition floors will host a massive collection of more than 470.000 objects, including collections of some other important Antwerp museums, whose accommodations got outdated over time (for example: the ethnographic museum, the national museum of navigation and

© Antwerpen Toerisme & Congres

’t Eilandje

A rich past and a promising future

© Antwerpen Toerisme & Congres

Antwerp’s watery gem

© Antwerpen Toerisme & Congres

MAS [Museum aan de Stroom] is more than a museum, it’s also a new venue around which lots of other meeting and event opportunities are located.

Jachthaven Pano

‘t Eilandje is now an area in full transformation and the city’s most important renewal project for the coming years


What would be better than to sail right into the city center on a yacht? In Antwerp, it is possible.



Haven Antwerpen


Class ‘A’ meetings and events


the museum of folklore). The building was designed by architects Neutelings and Riedijk to resemble a modern version of an old harbor warehouse (there used to be one on the same spot). Its spiraling shape and huge glass windows will give you magnificent and gradually more open views of the city and the harbor, until you finally reach the panorama room and the terrace. This ‘vertical city walk’ forms a connection between the historical and contemporary city of Antwerp. You could also spend some time on the four pavilions, the restaurant, the café, the museum shop, the

+ ‘t Eilandje . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 A closer look at one of the city’s main development projects.

+ A city on the move . . . . . . 31

most evolving neighbourhoods: ‘t Eilandje, which includes a lot of (re)newed meeting venues.

MIM 25

MIM 26

This by bi-annual festival is all about the water heritage of the Scheldt and the dynamics of the Antwerp harbor. It submerges the island in a maritime atmosphere, while the docks are filled with all sorts of old and new vessels from the Scheldt delta. It gives you insights in both the old and the modern harbor world. There are musical performances, guided walks, exhibitions, dinners, bars, job fairs and simulations. If you ever wanted to be a passenger on a steamboat, wanted to drive a forklift truck or wondered how life was on a medieval ship, Antwerp is the place to be. WaterkAnt is planned for the last weekend of September 2011.

Stuurboord This very flexible venue room, right next to the river, can be divided into five different units by means of moveable acoustic walls. This makes it easy to adjust the location to the number of attendants. All sorts of events: seminars, conferences, parties, product launches and fashion shows, can be hosted here, with a maximum capacity of 1.500 people. From the main room, you can have a wonderful view over the river, the harbor and the passing ships. During the summertime, the large terrace will give your event the finishing touch it deserves.

Waagnatie This former port hangar was transformed into a multifunctional space for fairs, concerts and congresses. Its high ceiling, almost 7000 m2 of available space, easy accessibility by public transport, nearly unlimited parking space and its proximity to the city center and the main roads, make it an ideal location for large events. The venue can easily be transformed by the staff on demand, to whatever fits the needs of an event. It’s also located next to the Scheldt river, which means ships can anchor within 20 meters of the venue.

Antwerp Engineering Company This building used to be owned by the Red Star Line company, but in recent years

La Riva This former canteen for the Antwerp dockworkers was also transformed into an events venue. Lots of the original mosaics and chandeliers remain, but the rest of the building’s interior was designed with an art deco look in mind. It has a bar, a modern lounge and a charming terrace for events outside. The lounge is located on a balcony on the upper floor so you can have a view of the event below. It is a perfect setting for walking dinners, after work parties, fashion shows, seminars and other parties for up to 500 people.

Barcelona Meeting The strength of this venue, except for the location at the Scheldt and the marina, is the small scale of it. It brings a very personal touch to your events. The service is discrete and stylish, and the cooking passionate. It’s a multifunctional space of 220 m2, located in a renovated whiskey depot, and it’s ideal for parties, receptions, presentations, conferences and dinners. It has a unique terrace where you can get a good view of the sunset on the Scheldt. The capacity can be adjusted to the type of event. From boardroom meetings (17 people) to dinners (90) and cocktail receptions (180). LCD projectors, DVD players, wireless internet and the possibility of darkening the room are available to fulfill specific needs.

Lux Restaurant and Bar The building was once the residence of a polish shipping company, but after its restoration it became a trendy restaurant with a bar and lounge. Original features like the wood paneling, the marble columns and the mosaic floors, were combined with contemporary design elements. In Lux Restaurant, high tech meets tradition to create the optimal setting

for dining pleasure. The Adriaan Brouwer Room can hold up to 45 people, which makes it ideal for meetings and presentations. The adjoining room, with views over the Bonaparte Dock and the MAS, can be linked to it for bigger events of up to 125 people. Receptions for about 70 people can be held in the vaulted cellar-lounge.

Het Pomphuis A bit further in the harbor district you can find this old building, once used to drain the dry dock for ships to be repaired. It has been out of service since 1982 and was transformed into a restaurant and bar in 2002. The building’s style is eclectic, with some art nouveau touches. Inside, there is one big space, with an impressive 7 meter deep pit. There’s a bar and lounge, a restaurant where 120 people can dine, and a mezzanine on a separate floor where 22 people can have a meal at one oval table, without being disturbed by the rest of the customers.

BW Classic Vespatours For a new and exciting way of discovering Antwerp, without traffic jams or paying for a parking spot, BW Classic Vespatours offers several guided tours of Antwerp, starting from the Island. In addition to these already interesting tours, they also offer several customized meeting packages for groups of up to 40 participants. These can last a whole day or an afternoon, with meals and meeting rooms arranged. The vespas are also available for product presentations, fairs and other promotional events.

special destination > Antwerp

If you would rather discover the treasures of the Island for yourself, you can find walking brochures at the office of Antwerp Tourism & Convention. Antwerp Tourism & Convention Grote Markt 15, 2000 Antwerpen T. +32 3 338 81 81

The Crowne Plaza Hotel is a unique business and leisure hotel surrounded by greenery. It’s located just off the Antwerp ring road, only a few minutes away from the city centre. Its 14 newly renovated, fully equipped meeting rooms can accommodate up to 600 people. The skyline floor holds eight of them. Having a meeting on top of the highest hotel in Antwerp gives you a wonderful panoramic view of the city. It has 264 elegantly decorated rooms, superior rooms and suites. You are connected to the web practically everywhere in the hotel through a free high speed wireless internet connection. All guests have free access to the temporary fitness room while a large and innovating spa lounge is being constructed and will open this year.

The Antwerp Quayside

Hyllit Hotel Antwerp****

Palace on the Meir This magnificent city palace, right on Antwerp’s main shopping street, was designed as a luxurious rococo building, influenced by the late baroque. It was inhabited by Napoleon, the Dutch kings and later the Belgian royal family. In later years, it was used as an International Cultural Center, and a Film Museum. In 2001, its lost grandeur was restored with a clear vision for the future. It is no longer a manor for kings and rulers of the past, but a palace for the people, with room for business, lectures, exhibits and events.

With its central location on the Keyserlei, a famous boulevard full of restaurants between the station and the Meir shopping street, the Hyllit Hotel is ideal for business travellers. It has 200 rooms and a luxurious Mediterranean rooftop restaurant. A sauna and wellness centre, including an award winning swimming pool, are also available. There are several modern meeting rooms present, capable of holding meetings for up to 120 people.

The upper floors were fully restored to their original quality and are a place for wonder, where one can get acquainted with the glory of the old building and its previous inhabitants. On the ground floor, you can find a luxury chocolaterie and a stylish brasserie. The magnificent ‘Mirror Hall’ (ordered by Leopold II) makes a perfect and unique location for parties, receptions and banquets for up to 100 people.

A jewel in a box It’s final, Antwerp will get an international congress centre in the centre of the city. 57.2 million € has been set aside for a complete renovation of the Flanders Congress & Concert Centre, also known as ‘Zalen van de Zoo’ (Halls of the Zoo). The renovation will be led by Ian Simpsons Architects (Manchester). Their ‘jewel in a box’ concept was selected from 60 participants and 4 other laureates. Organisers of national and international conferences will be able to welcome their participants in a qualitative and contemporary way. The ‘Zalen van de Zoo’ is also an ideal environment for classical music, but also quality rock, pop, world music and youth performances will have their spot in the redesigned hall.

Park Spoor Noord

Park Spoor Noord Just a couple of minutes from the Island and the MAS, there was once a 60 acres big industrial railroad area. For more than a century it was used to park or repair trains. This desolate place created a wedge between the surrounding neighborhoods. A couple of years ago the city realized it should fulfill a new role. Since then the place has been transformed to a contemporary, multifunctional city park, with an emphasis on space, trees, light, recreation, culture and sports. There are now playgrounds, a skate park and open fountains. There is a trendy open shelter,

configurable rooms, with all facilities which supports a popular bar in the summertime. The old train hangar is being converted into office space, a sports complex and a multifunctional exposition hall as we speak, and in another part of the park a new college campus is just being finished. Antwerp now has a giant new green lung. Its popularity rises when the weather gets warmer, and on one of those hot summer days you can see hundreds of people, just relaxing and enjoying a drink, the sun or one of the refreshing fountains. jan.nauwelaers@, T + 32 3 292 60 11

Radisson Blu Astrid Hotel****

event in Aquatopia, the hotel’s oceanarium. Imagine holding a meeting or reception surrounded by deep blue water and 10.000 exotic fish. astridhotel-antwerp

Guided Walks The Antwerp Tourism department offers the possibility of a guided walk to discover the island’s past, present and future. The price is € 65 for groups of up to 20 people. Tours can be in Dutch, French, English and German. or T. +32 (0)3 203 95 50

Imagine being poor in the 19 century. Would you travel to an unknown new

If you think of Antwerp, you think of water. What would be better than to sail right into the city center on a yacht. Well, it is possible. There is a marina right next to the MAS, in the middle of the island district, in a neighborhood full of bars, restaurants and with a vibrant nightlife. A recently built landing stage is available in the Willemdok, and it is big enough

special destination > Antwerp

Crowne Plaza Hotel****

The Island is not the only spot in Antwerp where interesting things are happening. This city is full of life and activities. Practically everywhere you look, venues are being built or renewed. We’ll show the most prestigious and we’ll also give an update and review of the city’s hotels.

The renovation of the riverside will be the city’s next prestigious project. An area of 6,7 km in length and a 100 meters wide will be remodeled, to meet multiple goals. The first is of course to keep Antwerp safe from future floods. Another is the revival of the quays as one of Antwerp’s most important public areas, as part of the plan of revaluating the city’s relationship with the river. The quays are a crucial element of connection between the center and the surrounding development areas, of which the island is a part. Work will begin in 2013 and finish 15 years later. Energy will be concentrated on different side projects, like the restoration of the beautiful historical hangars where permanent exhibitions and markets can be held. There will also be lots of room for open spaces, squares, parks and tidal gardens, all with the idea of bringing the river closer to the people. When finished, it will be an extra gem on Antwerp’s already richly decorated crown. More information about the project can be found on


special destination > Antwerp

A city on the move: Innovation, renovation and revelation

© Ian Coomans


has been remodeled to be a location for events. It offers all the modern comfort you need, but the place still breathes out a strong industrial atmosphere, with its black floors, wooden beams and old chandeliers. Two halls are available for events: one can support 300 people, while the main hall has a capacity of more than 900. Both rooms can be connected to each other. It has been a popular and hip location for a wide range of small and bigger events.

Red Star Line: People on the move

The Willemdok Marina

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special destination > Antwerp

to support 250 yachts. It is part of the island’s renovation project and is primarily meant for passing tourists, interested to visit some of the city’s major hotspots in a short period of time.

boulevard and the museum square, created by Antwerp artist Luc Tuymans. The restaurant and the panorama room will be made available for events, receptions, lectures, debates, press conferences and meetings (288 pax.). All necessary conference equipment will be on-site as well as a in-house caterer. The MAS will officially open to the public on May 17th 2011.

The Meeting Centre at Antwerp expo is the place to be for your seminar, conference or meeting. Depending on your needs and requirements, we can offer you the perfect space. You can welcome 10 to 500 people in our 6 configurable rooms, which are all equipped to the finest detail. Extra benefits for your guests: a central and easily accessible location, 3.000 parking places and stylish hotels in the immediate vicinity, with separate entrances to the Meeting Centre.

Jan Van Rijswijcklaan 191 BE-2020 Antwerpen

1 website for all info:

T. +32 (0)3 260 81 20 F. +32 (0)3 237 87 71

The Radisson Blue Astrid Hotel Antwerp, with its new manager Didier Boehlen, is centrally located in the heart of the famous diamond area, opposite the Central Station and the Zoo. American architect Michael Graves designed it to be the contemporary mirror image of the old station. It has 247 fully air-conditioned rooms, including suites and apartments. It also contains two restaurants, a brasserie with a terrace, and a bar & lounge. Eighteen modern meeting rooms are available on two separate conferencing floors. The grand Ballroom is perfect for large corporate events and banquets for up to 600 people. Utterly breathtaking though, is the possibility to hold a corporate

Hotel Julien***

Hotel Julien, a small urban oasis in the city centre with lots of greenery, is just a five minute walk away from the Cathedral and the Meir shopping street. The 22 rooms are located in two historic buildings, but are decorated in a contemporary style. The hotel has a lounge, a bar and a wellness centre located in a 16th century basement. It can host receptions and parties for up to 50 people and is ideal for smaller business events.


220 m²

of multifunctional and modern space in the old Whisky depot in Antwerp

Ideal for events, receptions, meetings, presentations, diners, conferences,… Capacity: 10-200 pax. LCD projectors, VHS, DVD, wireless microphones,… Unique terrace with view of sunset on the river. Contemporary and passionate cuisine, personal and stylish service. 5’ walking distance from city centre. Easy to reach, private parking.

BARCELONA Hangar 26, Rijnkaai 95, B - 2000 Antwerpen Tel. +32 (0)3 231 62 06 - Fax +32 (0)3 226 90 96 -

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They provide planners with free, tailormade advice and practical information. Through them you will get the many diverse meeting opportunities of Antwerp. Last year we focused on the planned new congress centre and its surroundings, this year we’re focusing on one of Antwerp’s


Antwerp – the city on the stream – is Belgium’s second city and an important industrial and commercial centre in Western Europe. Naturally, it attracts a lot of corporate meetings and events which explains Antwerp’s Tourism & Convention's expertise and experience.

An overview of Antwerp’s recent innovations and renovations.

world for a small chance of a better life? In Antwerp, between 1872 and 1935, almost three million people did. It was the Red Star Line Shipping Company who transported all of them from the Antwerp Island to America and Canada. Its iconic buildings still exist today. Three historic hangars, all protected monuments and part of Antwerp’s collective memory, stand on the Rijnkaai, but have been abandoned for years. The city realized they needed a new destination and bought them in 2005. They will be restored and transformed into a place for remembrance, experience, debate and research on international mobility in the past and present. The stories of the Antwerp emigrants will live again, and will contribute to a modern view on emigration. It is planned that one hall of the building will be available for the organization of events. More info will follow when the museum opens to the public in May of 2012.

destinations > France

Meetings along water in France… and elsewhere Bordeaux







© Michel Verdure



I’ve written about this before, but after visiting a couple of French cities that lie along water, I discovered there was even more truth in the following statement: ‘Cities located next to rivers, lakes or seas always have a significant advantage over other cities.’ What could this advantage be? What exactly does it consist of? TEXT MARCEL A.M. VISSERS

In France, where people live the life of Riley, there are some cities along water that are very attractive to incentive and conference organizers. We chose to include nine in this article, with an honorable mention for Monaco (the second smallest independent country in Europe), where our story starts. We followed the coastal line of the Mediterranean Sea to Nice and the Atlantic, all the way to Nantes and Tours by the Loire river and Strasbourg, near the German border. Did we forget any cities? Sure, but you can’t include all of them. The magical power that makes these places special is without doubt the water that has been flowing through them for centuries and give these cities a certain character. The water in Cannes looks

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different to that in Biarritz. This is because the illumination angle changes in every city and the water is surrounded by many architectural landmarks, which also differ. It makes each of every of these destinations utterly attractive. Besides water, all these cities have some other distinct features in common. They all have picturesque inner harbors, a well known walking promenade and a couple of very special hotels. But the most important factor for meeting planners is that they all have a rich supply of incentive activities and a purpose-built conference centre, often a famous one. Almost all of these cities are very easily accessible by highspeed train from Paris. In most of these places I met a lot of people, and I remember them vividly because they talked about

destinations > France

their city with great enthusiasm. You can contact them with my regards.

Mon oncle Munegu (My Monegasque uncle) ‘Principatu de Munegu’: that’s how Monaco is called in the local language. When I visit this microstate - which isn’t on the French Riviera but close to the Mediterranean my favorite place to drink ‘un café’ is on the Place du Casino, close to Café de Paris. There, I can relax while the whole of Monte Carlo strolls by. I could talk for hours with Ugo Delory of Société des Bains de Mer about everything Monaco has to offer. He’s a charming young man with passionate hotel-blood pumping through his veins. He knows where to find the best bottles of French wine and where you have the best view of Monaco’s splendid rooftops. His good friend Nadège Alfieri - also an acquaintance of mine - is just as delightful as him. She knows a lot about congress centres and to me, Monaco’s finest lady is the Grimaldi Forum. Last year in June, the tenth birthday of this congress pearl was celebrated, not by but IN the Mediterranean Sea! More info: A HQ Special Supplement on Monaco is available

didn’t spend much time together in recent years. It’s been too long since I visited her for the last time. For conference and incentive organizers the city has a lot more to offer than the yearly movie festival. I hope to make a special supplement about Cannes someday. More info:

Dear Marselha It’s not because my name is Marcel that I’m calling Marseille ‘Marselha’. It’s because it’s ‘provençal’. I’m still thankful to Maxime Tissot, Director of Marseille Tourist Office and Convention Bureau, for letting me and my team experience such lovely days at the Côte Blue. It gave me the chance to discover the most authentic city on the Mediterranean Sea. I’ve written 12 pages about it a long time ago, and I still didn’t have enough space. What a lovely Vieux Port.

More info:

Jet Set Sister Cannes I always consider Cannes to be the Jet Set Sister of Nice, because it has a lot more sandy beaches. But Sister Cannes and I

Ma tante à Nantes Nantes is a city in the west of France, experiencing quick growth. Its location is marvellous, between the Atlantic and the Loire. The congress centre is splendid: La Cité, Nantes Events Center, where my good friend Elodie Coudre became Marketing Manager. Nantes has also a special bond with Antwerp. Its ‘Giants’ have visited my city occasionally, which made many of the spectators shed tears of emotion. Benjamin Bellet, the new Marketing Director of Nantes Culture et Patrimoine, boasts well filled incentives basket, and he gladly wants to share it with companies in the future. More info: A HQ Special Supplement is available

More info:

A tour in Tours

Besides water, all these cities have some other distinct features in common

Georges Fleurance, who used to be a fellow journalist of mine, has been the Marketing and Communication Manager of Vinci, The Loire Valley Convention Centre for years now. But I have to admit, I don’t know Tours very well. Georges will definitely hold this against me. My colleague and connoisseur Rémi Dévé has written a fine article about it though. I suggest you read our HQ Special Supplement on this French gem.

My Nice Niece of Nice When I met Monique Amey of Nice Convention Bureau for the first time, I thought: ‘This lady was born in the French Riviera.’ And I was right. She has characteristics you can also find in a Salade Niçoise. She has the freshness of olive oil, the beauty of the sea and the liveliness and colors of fresh vegetables. Monique is nice. I love to have a nice cup of tea with her in one of the crowded but cozy little streets leading to the Boulevard des Anglais. We share an admiration for another one of Nice’s leading ladies, the late Jacqueline Piétri. She was a remarkable woman for the European congress industry and was instrumental in putting the Acropolis, the first iconic European congress centre, on the map. I never get tired of talking to Monique... She could have been my Nice Niece!

More info:

My Miarritze (this is ‘basque’ and it means Biarritz!) In our journey through the French cities along water, we’ve arrived at the Gulf of Biscay. French Basque Country is where you can breathe in the best air of the country. Victor Hugo discovered this in 1834. And in 2008, it was rediscovered by my fellow-townsman Bart Van Cauwelaert, who became GM of Sofitel Site Thalassa (Le Miramar). He’s still writing me. ‘When are you finally coming over to visit la reine des plages et la plage des rois?’ Well, consider this article a first step, Bart. More info:

Attractive Bordeaux The city of Bordeaux has an attractive, rich and complex personality forged over the centuries by multiple influences. It offers an outstanding architectural heritage as well as a fantastic life style revolving around fine wine… and of course great meeting facilities. Hélène Fourquet, of Bordeaux Gironde Convention Bureau, could tell you all about it.

More info: A HQ Special Supplement is available

Strasbourg, a European surprise Walking through Strasbourg, you immediately notice the different styles and influences the city has known over the course of the years. Obviously, this is not your usual French town. Then there’s the wonderful interaction between the beautifully preserved city centre and the impressive European quarter. A good way to discover the treasures of Strasbourg is definitely by boat. Just take my word for it! More info:, A MIM Special Supplement is available

For more information about these cities in general, please contact France Congrès, a service bureau representing more than 50 French cities.

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TAKE A SECOND LOOK If you thought you knew all there is to know about corporate events, think again: you can’t imagine the impact of a meeting held in the Monte-Carlo SBM Resort*. A legendary destination, outstanding infrastructures, the year-round liveliness of one of the world’s most renowned resorts and the efficiency of a professional team entirely dedicated to your success. The guarantee of the best possible return on investment: 100% participation, 100% satisfaction, 100% result, 100% affordable. When choosing your next destination, think no more, “OSEZ MONTE-CARLO!” *Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort (334 rooms), Hôtel Hermitage (280 rooms), Hôtel de Paris (182 rooms), Monte Carlo Beach (40 rooms )

Information & reservation: (377) 98 06 17 17 - -

destinations > Monaco

Hôtel Hermitage

Osez Monte-Carlo! In 2011, the Monte-Carlo SBM group is renewing its communication campaign inviting players in business tourism to take a fresh look at its offerings in the Principality of Monaco. With the slogan ‘Take a second look, osez Monte-Carlo!’, the campaign delivers a strong message highlighting the existence of a gap between the Monte-Carlo perception and the results actually achieved by Monte-Carlo SBM on the business tourism market. Here is what you should know. Alice Gentils, Director of Sales, comments: ‘Monte-Carlo’s prestigious reputation gives rise to preconceived ideas in terms of both prices and perceptions, yet our prices are comparable to those of competing cities, and our very strong image enables us to deliver record levels of attendance for the events we manage. We are, and will remain, a glamorous destination, but as one does not exclude the other, we have managed to create optimal conditions for a company to deliver its message, with the promise of a return on its investment.’

With four unique hotels (over 800 bedrooms in total), 35 restaurants and bars and a complementary offer of establishments dedicated to well-being, culture and leisure activities, the Monte-Carlo SBM Resort indeed boasts a global infrastructure which is extremely diversified and flexible, where each facility is within walking distance from the other.

On the business tourism map as never before, the Monte-Carlo SBM Resort has been able to rely on its long tradition of hospitality, its experience in event management and the Principality’s undeniable tourist assets - easy access, very high security and a mild climate. However, it is evident from current satisfaction surveys that it is the know-how of the teams, the quality, complementarity and competitiveness of the group’s

The Monte-Carlo Bay, with 75% of its rooms being sea-view and its unique location on a private peninsula, is ideal for groups up to 300 rooms. Achieving a 4-year renovation programme, the Hôtel Hermitage has now become in turn the hotspot for meetings, thanks to its new 310 m2 multi-function room, new breakout rooms, 200 guest rooms, and outstanding terraces for cocktails overlooking the harbour and the Prince’s Palace. The

infrastructures which are now decisive factors in the clientele’s criteria for choosing a destination.

Monte Carlo Beach

legendary Hôtel de Paris remains the ideal location for board meetings and high-profile groups. Last but not least is the Monte Carlo Beach, the Mediterranean jewel of 40 rooms, suspended between sea and sky - it is the perfect choice for small groups and can be privatized off-season. Worth noting and contrary to popular belief, the Monte-Carlo SBM offers top quality for money as compared to rival European destinations: group rates start from 175€ BB per night only! Monte-Carlo SBM guarantees record attendance, satisfaction, reliability and return on investment. When choosing your next destination, think no more: ‘Osez Monte-Carlo!’ Contact Ugo DELORY / Eventhia LAGIER T. +377 98 06 17 17

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destinations > Dubai

Dubai, an incentives oasis

600 rooms and suites, this hotel also has several island villas which can be reached by boat. It should be mentioned that, like all the group’s hotels, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel has quality conference facilities. Snow?! Snow indeed! Ski Dubai is the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East and offers an amazing snow setting to enjoy skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing or just playing in the snow. The construction covers an amazing 22,500 m2 covered with real snow all year round. Ski Dubai has 5 runs that vary in difficulty, height and steepness. The longest run being 400 meters with a fall of over 60 meters, making it the world’s first indoor black

Dubai has more possibilities than there are grains of sand in the desert

Dolphin Bay

Dubai, the highest populated of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates, has emerged as a global city and a business hub. In addition, it’s also an oasis with state-of-the-art facilities and an open minded hospitality, making it a model destination for incentives. REPORT CÉCILE CAIATI-KOCH We never thought it possible, but the surrounding deserts of Dubai offer a wide range of incentive possibilities… and we’re not just talking about building sand castles. A desert safari is a good way to experience the Arabian Desert. Strap yourself in and hold on tight as your 4x4 charges up and down dunes. If you want to drive and don’t want to share, you’d best take part in a dune buggy safari, where everyone drives his own roller-coaster. Sandboarding is a preferred incentive for those who like a more hands-on approach balancing on a board sliding down. Of course, let’s not forget the camel races. This sport was developed as a means to preserve the camel. Capable of going up to 65km/h, the camel’s strength lies in its stamina and endurance. It’s surprisingly exciting to watch. Finally, round off your

day in the desert with a moonlit Arabian barbecue in the desert, complete with traditional entertainment. As a seaside city, there are plenty of water-related activities and hotels to splash around in. Perhaps the most exciting way to see Dubai involves a seaplane giving you uninterrupted views of iconic sights such as Dubai Creek, the Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab and Palm Jumeirah. One of the most impressive hotels is located on this Palm Jumeirah: Atlantis, The Palm. This 7-star resort is has a total of 1,539 rooms and includes a water theme park and a conference center. Add to this the Dolphin Bay in which guests can swim and interact with dolphins.

run. Skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels will enjoy these various slopes and snowboarders can also practice their stunts on the 90-metre long quarter pipe. Participants will have fun in the interactive Snow Park which is the largest indoor snow park in the world with 3,000m2. What makes the hospitality in Dubai so different from similar destinations? The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding illustrates this. Located in the old Dubai area, you can enjoy local food and chat with the host about the UAE culture and religion. In other words, ‘Open doors. Open minds.’ Thus open-minded hospitality is combined with state-of-theart facilities, making Dubai an oasis with open doors for meetings and conferences. Contact Dubai Convention Bureau T. +971 4 201 0220 F. +971 4 201 0414,

Ski Dubai

There are other water parks, like the Wild Wadi between the Burj Al Arab and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. In addition to over

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destinations > Bilbao

Bilbao, a destination designed for meetings In the last two decades Bilbao, once an industrial centre, has become a blooming service city filled with attractive buildings and pleasant walking areas. During my visit, I found a destination enhanced with hotels, venues and conference centres designed for meetings and beauty. REPORT IGOR HENDRICKX Bilbao owes much of its success as a service city and meeting destination to the so-called Guggenheim effect. While the famous Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Gehry, is the most obvious example of the urban renewal, it’s only one of the city’s many ambitious projects. These projects have led to new suburbs, modern infrastructures and buildings, like the Bilbao Metro, the Palacio Euskalduna de Congresos y de la Música, the Bilbao Exhibition Centre in Barakaldo and many others. Most of these landmarks are located along a riverside promenade, where design hotels have joined the mix. It was a joyous experience to be able to walk from hotel to conference centre to museum. In this way I felt at home in a city where I hadn’t been before and where I didn’t even speak the language.

Meeting in Bilbao The Euskalduna Conference Centre and Concert Hall, designed by Federico Soriano and Dolores Palacios, was inaugurated in February 1,999 and has since played host to 6,379 events, of which 3,754 were congresses and meetings. It won the International Association of Congress

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Centres (AIPC) ‘World’s Best Convention Centre Award’ in 2003. This wonderful multi-purpose centre stands in the very heart of the city on the former site of the Euskalduna shipyard. Indeed, the whole building looked to me like a mighty ship able to accommodate major congresses and corporate meetings side by side with symphony concerts and other stage performances. In addition to the large acoustic auditorium (2,164 pax), there’s a theatre hall (613 pax) and numerous meeting rooms. There’s also a VIP meeting room and the many foyers and vestibules make up 8,000 m2 of multi-purpose space for exhibitions. In 2011 work will start on an expansion of 5,000 m2, of which half will be used for meetings. Bilbao Exhibition Centre, located in Bilbao’s metropolitan area, is perfect for large-scale fairs, congresses, exhibitions, etc. The BEC’s great flexibility and versatility make it possible to adapt the spaces to the size and needs of each particular show. The BEC encompasses 150,000 m2 of exhibition space in 6 halls, and hosts around 30 trade fairs per year. Its convention centre has 12 rooms of different

sizes and configurations on 5 floors. The complex also boasts the BIZKAIA ARENA, a multi-purpose hall that can adopt a wide range of configurations to host different types of events, seating an amazing 26,000 attendees.

Staying in Bilbao Bilbao’s business hotels reflect the city’s new modern design. In each one I enjoyed looking at the structural expressionist, modern, postmodern or even post-postmodern art and architecture. Here are just a few examples of what accommodations in Bilbao look like. The Silken Gran Hotel Domine is one of three 5-star hotels in Bilbao. It’s got an enviable location right in front of the Guggenheim Museum. Nearly every aspect of the hotel was designed by Javier Mariscal. The result is a model of ‘contemporarity’ with an understated

Marques de Riscal Hotel

destinations > Bilbao

Case study: incentives in Biscay

Guggenheim Museum

and welcoming environment. It has 135 rooms, 10 suites and 2 break-out meeting rooms for medium-sized meetings. The hotel’s rooftop terrace offers - apart from a refreshing breakfast loca-

Inspiring architecture, inspiring design, inspiring meetings! tion - interesting possibilities with its magnificent view. No wonder that it’s the flagship hotel of the Silken hotel chain. Strategically located in the heart of the new business, leisure and cultural centre of the city, next to the Euskalduna

Conference and Culture Centre, lies the Meliá Bilbao. It attracts the eye with its warm Mediterranean colours. While I was there, the Prince of Asturias was accommodated in one of 211 rooms. The four convention rooms, like the rest of the interior, combine soft pastel colours with warm wooden furnishings, augmented with state-of-the-art audiovisual technology. 151 outward-facing rooms decorated with large, tinted-glass windows, have earned Hotel Hesperia Bilbao the nickname ‘the hotel of colours’. To me it looked like Mondrian himself had come to Bilbao. Built in 2005, across the river from the Guggenheim Museum, the hotel can pride itself on its 9 meeting rooms. Most can be adapted to fit events of all sizes.

Euskalduna Conference Centre and Concert Hall

A recent two-day incentive trip to Bilbao clearly illustrates the possibilities of the region. This incentive trip took place during the early summer months - we’re not allowed to disclose any more details. Instead of spending those two days in Bilbao, the second day was devoted to a visit of Bilbao’s hinterland. First on the menu was an invigorating walk through the countryside, followed by a visit to the 13th century abbey of Canãs. Since Bilbao is close to the famous Rioja-region, a visit to a vineyard could not be omitted. This took place at the famous Marqués de Riscal domain in a design hotel designed by Frank Gehry. It was an afternoon to pamper all five senses. The day was concluded in Palacio San Joseren in Getxo, the old 19th century resort town. This charming large villa was constructed in Victorian style and formed the perfect background for a festive gala evening.

Getting to and around in Bilbao Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque region and is accessible by virtually every means of transportation possible. As a port city, Bilbao can be reached by ferry from the UK. Last but not least, there’s the Bilbao International Airport, which receives flights from all over Spain and many parts of the world. When I went to Bilbao, I discovered its architectural beauty in ever more wonderful steps. First, Bilbao airport has a sleek design with two symmetrical wings and a sharp tip at its centre, earning it the nickname ‘La Paloma’ (‘The Dove’). Second, Bilbao itself seemed to open its doors for me when at the end of a tunnel, we drove over the La Salve bridge, past the Guggenheim Bilbao and along the main boulevard. Maravilloso! As mentioned before, getting around in Bilbao is easy: everything is within walking distance, but if you have to go to the larger metropolitan area, you can use the modern and fast Metro Bilbao or the tram or bus.

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Open spaces. Open daily. Nonstop to Montreal with smooth connections to all of North America. Go to or call us at 070-220-100.

destinations > Athens

Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Olympic Games

Inspiring meetings in Athens Who knew that the organization in charge of promoting Athens as a meetings destination, Athens Convention Bureau, was so young? Honestly, before I got there for a short press trip last October, I thought the Convention Bureau had been around for a long time, Athens being a fascinating and sought-after destination. But not at all. They’ve been properly working on the meetings industry for two years now and rightly the Bureau wants to focus strongly on the corporate market. REPORT RÉMI DÉVÉ There’s no real need to introduce Athens as a destination. With its unique cultural identity - it’s the cradle of western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, drama and philosophy - its many assets are easily sellable. Modern Athens is a little less known: it’s a vibrant, busy metropolis, Greece’s principal centre for business and foreign trade and the focus on my trip.

Regenerated and transformed to hold the 2004 Olympic Games, Athens has demonstrated it has what it takes to host the most demanding event. What is also a little less known though is it’s also a city by the sea, in fact the ‘European capital with most blue flags’. One of the greatest things about Athens is

underwent extensive renovation in preparation of the 2004 Olympic Games, making the city an ideal meetings destination. With 40 conference and exhibition centres and 89 hotels with meetings facilities, it’s also good for larger gatherings. For big conferences, I was personally impressed with the sophisticated, multi-purpose Megaron which has been incorporated into the park right next to it with such skill that it in no way infringes in it. They also just opened a 2-Michelin start restaurant on the premises, which is perfect for a business lunch or dinner after a hard day’s work. Of course those are just impressions of Athens. In the near future I hope to be able to write more on a destination that

With its unique cultural identity - it’s the cradle of western civilization - Athens’ many assets are easily sellable

© Karamanian

indeed its proximity to beautiful coastline resorts, but also to superb whitewashed Greek islands, charming villages and ancient historical cities. A good selection of them is reachable within 30 minutes from the city centre. I was lucky enough to go take a good look at Grand Resort Lagonissi and The Westin Athens and it was just breathtaking with a unique mixture of leisure and business elements. Megaron AICC

In terms of infrastructure, Athens has nothing to blush about. Most hotels

clearly stands out from its competitors. After all some of humanity’s most exciting ideas were born in Athens, and from there some of them even took over the world. Isn’t that precisely what meetings are all about, transfer of knowledge and information? Contact Athens Convention Bureau T. +30 210 32 53 123

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destinations > Milan

Surprising Radisson Blu in Milan

Radisson Blu Milan - Library

Radisson Blu Milan - Courtyard of the restaurant

I discovered Milan years ago, thanks to a true lover of the city who showed me the lesser known corners and neighborhoods of it. Without him, I would have never learned to love it. At the time, Milan didn’t really promote itself, except for the practical information given to every visitor of the famous Fira da Milano. But this all changed through the years. Milan has become an attractive city, and young people, art lovers and artists discovered this years ago. REPORT CÉCILE CAIATI-KOCH

Despite the fact that Milan is a city with millions of inhabitants, the interesting neighborhoods are practically within walking distance of each other. And when necessary, there’s a well-organized tram and subway system, which will even be expanded for the 2015 World Fair.

way to attract the spoiled business travellers or convention delegates.

The little streets with the cozy art shops in the Brera quarter (well known for its famous Academy of Arts) are close to the Scala, where you can walk through the beautiful Vittorio Emanuele II gallery leading up to the Duomo square. Everything seems to be close together. But the visit only gets really fun when you have a good guide, who can feed you with all the exciting stories and small details of the things you see.

Radisson Blu Milan is full of surprises and tastefully decorated

Besides the Milanesi, who take themselves very seriously and are always stylishly dressed, a lot of foreigners are living or working in Milan. This gives the city a metropolitan character, and it also results in a lot of people speaking decent English. Hotels are everywhere to be found. Old classics like the Principe Di Savoia Hotel are famous but there’s a lot of modern hotels too, all of them having their own

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One of these hotels is Radisson Blu Milan. It’s located in a residential district close to the Fira Milano and 20 minutes away from

the city centre, with its old quarters full of life and shopping opportunities. It’s worth the walk in a sunny day, otherwise I would recommend the twenty-minute subway ride. The hotel surprises you when you first enter it. All the dark wood, the magnificent statues and the beautiful furniture make you believe you’re in a exotic country! The Indonesian interior designer masterfully succeeded in composing a good mix of Western and Asian elements. The public spaces are fresh, have a dark tropical feeling (there could have been a bit more light for me though) and the

atmosphere is pleasant. I was impressed with the meeting facilities. There’s a large conference hall (240 people), seven meeting rooms (20-80 people) and a board room available. There’s also a separate entrance to the conference section of the

hotel. All of these rooms are spacious, with a lot of natural light (more than the rest of the hotel) and they’re decorated with taste. These are not boring business spaces - take my word for it! The hotel rooms are beautiful and fitted with all modern conveniences. The hotel is surely worth its four stars. If you don’t feel like spending the day in the pool or the health spa, the library with its homely decoration might also be a valuable alternative.

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The #114 issue of MIM Europe magazine