When it comes to meeting and event planning, location matters. The 'where' option should be top of your list, right up there with the ‘when’, ‘what’, ‘who’, and the ‘why’.
Selecting the right destination is a difficult task, as the options are virtually limitless and cater to every objective and type of meeting.
Hundreds of countries, thousands of cities and countless hotels, conference centres and special venues. It is impossible to know them all, let alone visit them. So how do you choose the right destinations to go on your shortlist?
You want to select the ultimate destination that supports your meeting goals, that does not kill your budget, and that is attractive to your participants.
To assist you with this difficult task, Mr. Holland has put together a list of considerations that can help you with your deliberations. Considering how savvy and challenging Mr. Holland is, it will not come as a surprise to you that he seizes this opportunity to show you how well Holland 'scores' on all your requirements.
One of the considerations is ease of travelling to the destination by plane, train, car, etc. This goes beyond availability and proximity to an international airport. What, for example, is transport at the destination like in terms of options, safety, pricing, and traffic congestion? What matters most is whether your delegates can reach the destination easily and affordably from their own countries.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is one of Europe’s major hubs, with countless connections to over 180 destinations worldwide. In addition, regional airports such as Rotterdam The Hague Airport, Eindhoven Airport and Maastricht Aachen Airport all connect with important European destinations. Between the UK and Holland alone there are almost 200 daily flights! In addition, Holland’s public transport system and road networks are reliable and efficient.
Hotel capacity & convention infrastructure
The guides and websites usually tell you the official capacity of hotel rooms and venues, but it is even more relevant to know whether that capacity is available for you. Hotels may not be able to grant you the room block that you are looking for. Moreover, are they conveniently located near the conference venue?
Contact the local CVB for this type of advice, and for information on what is on at the destination while your group in town. You do not want to be fighting over the same rooms as other groups. The CVB can also assist you in sourcing and contracting hotels and can process reservations.
Holland offers a wide range of restaurants and hotel accommodations, from pleasant budget hotels to five-star properties. A small country with centuries of experience in international relations, Holland prides itself on an excellent convention infrastructure.
Both NBTC and the local CVBs offer help in locating the right venues, hotels and partners for your meeting. They also have extensive knowledge on what is on and how you can secure the accommodations you require.
Because of the current short lead times, you prefer to work with destinations that embrace flexibility and that quickly adapt to unexpected situations and last-minute changes. Extensive experience with international conferences and meetings obviously helps. Tip: Ask for references of similar conferences, and do follow up on them as your fellow planners are invaluable sources of information.
A small country, Holland facilitates quick and easy access to wherever you want to go or meet. With countless options nearby, cities offer flexible solutions for every meeting. The Dutch are easy-going, creative people, and embrace the challenges of your last-minute meeting requests.
If this is of interest to your group, do ask what the destination and its venues and hotels undertake with respect to sustainability. Ask for local schemes and labels, in order to understand what the best parties are for you to work with. Do also ask for opportunities to support social projects, or even actively participate in these, if this provides added value to your event.
With an approximate bike-to-inhabitant ratio of 1.1:1, yes, indeed, more bicycles than people, and a prime minister who rides his bike to work every day, we make a strong case for sustainability. However, there is more of course. Do check out our special ‘green meetings’ section on the Holland.com website with suggestions for your next green meeting.
Take stock of the support you need prior to your meeting and once the participants have arrived. What services does the CVB provide to you, your attendees and exhibitors, and is it complimentary? Make use of its extensive knowledge about the destination, pricing, activities that can either support your event or get in the way. What support is available for your participants’ practical questions?
Thanks to their ample experience in organising conventions, you may rely fully on our professionals for the organisation of your international convention. The Dutch organisers are friendly, pragmatic and decisive. Both NBTC and local CVBs offer a wide range of free advice, promotional and hotel booking services, many of which are free of charge. Please tap into their extensive knowledge during a site visit.
Holland offers associations the Pre-Financing and Guarantee Fund, and an interest-free loan to finance the initial costs of an international conference and insurance, at non-commercial rates, against possible financial risks due to unexpected reduced attendance.
Your choice of destination can make a big difference to your budget. This goes beyond the cost of the venue and catering. The costs for hotels, restaurants, transport and local services can make or break your budget. Ask about the cost levels of related aspects, from stand build-up and set-up fees to the costs for your participants. An 'expensive' destination for the participants will have a negative impact on the conference itself.
The price/quality ratio of products and services in Holland is excellent. International research has shown that hotel prices in Holland went down in the last two years. Moreover, foreign visitors may be refunded the 21% VAT they paid for certain services and products.
Both the Mercer Worldwide Cost of Living Survey and the Economist Intelligence Unit cost of living index rate Dutch cities not expensive.
Wireless capability has become one of the most important factors in the meetings industry.
We want to be online at all times, and our devices have become our lifelines to home and work, and are also vital to participate in and interact during the meeting. We expect to be online 24/7, preferably with multiple devices simultaneously. The average conference participant has 2.4 devices in use simultaneously, according to research by Icahn. Optimal speed and sufficient bandwidth are essential to meet the needs during events.
Holland boasts efficient, multifunctional convention centres equipped with state-of-the-art communication and audio-visual facilities. Dutch broadband penetration is one of the highest in the world, and, according to an Akamai survey, the fastest in Europe.
You want to bring your meetings to stable countries only, countries that are safe for your delegates and in which risks are minimal.
A destination that is prone to strikes poses uncertainties, as the consequences may be major if transport, catering, and other services are not available during your event.
Holland is a multicultural, tolerant and safe society with very low crime rates, and it enjoys a very stable economic and political climate. This allows you to organise a convention without any risks.
Many headquarters of major multinationals are located in our country, while Holland ranks in the worldwide top 10 of exporting countries. It has the 17th largest economy in the world, and ranks 10th in nominal GDP per capita.
A destination that offers a lot of things to do on the weekends or during conference downtime will appeal to and attract attendees to your meeting. The local attractions and activities will make their trip memorable and special, and should be relevant to your delegates’ profile.
The Dutch cities offer a wide range of concerts, museums, theatre shows and dance performances, as well as other types of entertainment. There is more than enough to choose from, ensuring an enjoyable social programme.
This appeal is evident from the Global Dynamism Index 2012 (GDI) by Grant Thornton, which ranks the Dutch business climate among the five most attractive in the world.
Finally: Are you welcome?
Perhaps the most important factor, and one that may decide in a destination’s favour is whether they make you feel welcome?
During your contact with CVBs and accommodations you will undoubtedly ‘feel’ whether they are truly happy with the business you will bring them or not. Feeling wanted is probably the best basis for a fruitful cooperation.
The Dutch welcome their guests from abroad with open arms. We are known for our enthusiasm to ensure that international visitors enjoy their stay. Tripadvisor ranked Amsterdam in the top 10 of Friendliest Cities in the World. The majority of the Dutch speak excellent English and many Dutch can communicate effectively in another foreign language.