Business conferences and events are changing, and traditional meeting destinations are changing along with them. In addition, more smaller cities - like Rotterdam - are getting into the market.
Hotel capacity, meeting space and airport access remain the basic needs, but more destinations are playing up their distinctive venues and creating unique experiences. Authenticity, sustainability, technology, community engagement and, of course, reasonable prices, experts say, are increasingly important to attract business groups.
Some cities have been too successful in luring meetings. Antonia Koedijk, director for North America for the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions, said overtourism had led to some changes in the Netherlands.
“In certain months, there is hardly any availability to be found at meeting venues in Amsterdam, and hotel capacity can be sparse and more expensive than usual,” Ms. Koedijk said. “The focus on Amsterdam is important, but venues are bursting at the seams.” She said that was one of the reasons “we absolutely try to direct business travelers to other destinations.”
Rotterdam easy accessible
“Ten years ago, distance from the airport was the main selling point,” Ms. Koedijk said. “It’s still relevant, but now it’s much more the whole story around the convention. There is more of a focus on content rather than logistics.” Like Amsterdam, smaller cities like The Hague and Rotterdam are easily accessible by train from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. “You can arrive at Rotterdam Central Station by high-speed train from Schiphol in a maximum of 26 minutes, before you’ve checked all your emails,” said Catherine Kalamidas, account manager for Rotterdam Partners Convention Bureau.
Rotterdam features several unique venues, including the solar-powered Floating Pavilion, three transparent half-spheres that float in Rotterdam’s harbor and can be arranged in flexible ways, and the Floating Farm, a working farm with milk-producing cows, for small events and presentations on topics like sustainability, agriculture and solar energy. “Many conventiongoers have traveled to some destinations multiple times, but Rotterdam allows organizers to put someplace new and a little different on their client’s agenda,” Ms. Kalamidas said, “without having to compromise travel time and efficiency.”