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Mim118 antwerp


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Mim118 antwerp

  1. 1. special destination > Antwerp CONTENTS + Antwerp, a meetings cityspecial destination on a rise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Philip Heylen, Antwerp’s AldermanAntwerp for Culture and Tourism + Antwerp congress & business events bureau: an evaluation . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Inge Marstboom, manager of Antwerp’s Congress & Business Events Bureau + Antwerp hotel association:Antwerp, a Meetings City on the rise ! a new drive for Antwerp’s meeting industry . . . . . . . . 24An interview with Philip Heylen, Antwerp’s Alderman for Culture and Tourism, Didier Boehlen, GM of Radisson Blu Astrid Hotelalways ends on a warm note. Philip is fiery, enthusiastic, well-informed andnever pessimistic. He’s excited about Antwerp’s Meetings Industry too,but he’s not afraid to admit that there is still much work to be done. INTERVIEWS BY MARCEL A.M. VISSERSMIM Europe: Antwerp is a city on the rise, as Bigger conferences are seldom organized, international trade fairs and events. Everyfar as the Meetings Industry is concerned. and are often only possible thanks to the year we attend the two major interna-How fast is this growth? flexible attitude of the organizer. Problems tional exhibitions: EIBTM and IMEX. AtPH: Antwerp certainly has the potential arise for larger multi-day conferences these fairs, Antwerp Tourism & Congressto grow as a meetings destination. It has organized on one fixed location for plenary can assess the international interest forimportant advantages such as accessibility, meetings, breakouts, catering and exhibi- the city. We’re also members of severalthe status of being the economic centre tion. The limited facilities we have now important international organizations, toof the country, the tourist infrastructure keep demand low. The Diabolo-connection assist in the promotion of Antwerp as aand image – but demand is also largely between Brussels Airport and Antwerp, conference and meeting destination.determined by the available meeting infra- planned for mid June, will definitely be anstructure. Antwerp still lacks one crucial added advantage for the city. Get on the MIM Europe: How do you currently describething: a fully-fledged conference centre. train at the airport and in less than thirty Antwerp to companies looking for an incentive/The city has to rely on the existing loca- minutes you’ll be in Antwerp’s city centre. event location? What makes this city special?tions and hotels that can handle multi-day Besides offering facilities, it’s very impor- PH: Besides meeting venues in historicalconferences for a maximum of 600 guests. tant for a destination to be present at buildings such as the city hall and the MIM 21
  2. 2. special destination > Antwerp Philip Heylen, Antwerp’s Alderman for Culture and Tourism university, there are also great locations MIM Europe: Do you sell Antwerp differently available on or near the water (the Scheldt to congress organizers (associations), and the docks). Other interesting possi- being another target group? bilities are locations with a story: about PH: There is a close cooperation between fashion, Rubens, diamonds and so on. the city, the university and Elzenveld. On the incentive/events level, Antwerp has Elzenveld and the university both a lot of variety to offer as well. The four offer a good and affordable service to main advantages (fashion, diamonds, water, associations. Both locations are located Rubens/culture) can be perfectly converted right in the centre, so there is enough hotel into products for a popular and exciting capacity available within walking distance and the participants can enjoy the city before and after the congress activities. “Antwerp can grow to be significantly more important MIM Europe: How do you see Antwerp as a congress destination in 2015? on the meeting market if it has PH: Our hotels can currently offer a state-of-the-art conference conference capacity for up to 600 people. centre to push this limit.” Antwerp can grow to be significantly more important on the meeting market if it has Philip Heylen a state-of-the-art conference centre to push this limit. Antwerp can and should incentive. We have our diamond cocktails, aspire to accommodate conferences for the Antwerp fashion hunt game, harbor up to 1,500 participants. A convention cruises, museum nocturnes, et cetera. city with a brand new conference centre The cooperation between the city and the located right in the centre, with sufficient industry appears to be an advantage as well. exhibition space, will certainly strengthen Organizers welcome this level of teamwork. its market position. We turn meetings into great events! Organizing, that’s what we’re good at! Whether it concerns a meeting, an incentive, a conference or a party, we’ll make sure you get what you’ve been dreaming of. Anything is possible, even a cocktail amongst 10,000 exotic fish and reptiles in Aquatopia. Radisson Blu Astrid offers 18 modern meeting rooms spread over 2 dedicated conferencing floors and enthusiast meeting experts who come up with inspiring ideas that meet up to everyone’s budget. Call us NOW on +32 (0)3 203 13 77 and discover your personal opportunities in one of the biggest conference hotels of Antwerp! +32 3 203 12 34
  3. 3. special destination > AntwerpAntwerp congress & business events bureau:an evaluationInge Marstboom, manager of year, because of the links with the harbor Inge MarstboomAntwerp’s Congress & Business and diamond industry. We’ve also noticedEvents Bureau, shines her light companies are becoming more creative due to the economic situation. While moreon how the city’s meeting industry and more video conferences are beingdid in 2011 and takes a look at the held, there’s still a need to meet in person.near future. But the style of incentives is changing. A lot of businesses are trying to mixMIM Europe: How was 2011 for Antwerp? leisure activities with something culturalIM: It certainly wasn’t a bad year: both or educational. It’s not just meeting forvenues and hotels are fairly happy. The 5 hours straight before going to the publast part of 2010 was exceptionally busy anymore. We’re keeping this in mind.because of the European presidencyattracting a lot of meetings. Logically we MIM Europe: Are there any new meetingdidn’t reach those numbers again in 2011, locations we should know of?but otherwise we’ve had a very stable year. IM: There’s a few: “Het Koetshuis” behindThe economic crisis didn’t really touch us. the Palace on the Meir is a wonderful but temporary event venue, the MAS museumMIM Europe: How is Antwerp promoting can be rented for meetings and events.itself to the industry? ALM in Berchem has multiple meetingIM: Since a few years, we’re attending both rooms/halls and Portview is a trendy newEIBTM and IMAX again, and it’s starting to location in the harbour with a fabulousshow. Each year, we have more appoint- view which is especially interesting forments and our brand awareness rises.What amazed me on EIBTM last year, companies in the port sector. The Sir Plantin hotel recently got a makeover, “We’re constantlywas the attention we were getting from there’s a new All Seasons Hotel near Astrid scanning new marketsassociations. They’re actively attending Square and Hotel O in the South district as well, to find the onesthese fairs to compare cities to each other, is a perfect place for smaller meetings. most interesting to us.”giving us some valuable new options. After the plans for the Keyserlei had beenWe’re constantly scanning new markets made public, a lot of catering businesses Inge Marstboomas well, to find the ones most interesting specifically started looking to open ato us. We’re concentrating on India this venue there. © ZOO AntwerpenThings are moving in Antwerp. The renovated and enlarged Central Station, the direct train connection with Brussels Airport planned for this year, the remodeled Astrid Square, the ongoingrenovation of the famous Keyserlei and foremost: the completion of the Flanders Concert and Congress Centre in 2014. All of these projects will no doubt make the Antwerp Station Area thecity’s most important business hub. MIM 23
  4. 4. special destination > Antwerp Antwerp hotel association: a new drive for Antwerp’s meeting industry Antwerp finally has its own Hotel isn’t cheap. But since our startup, 3,700 rooms already joined, giving us a lot Association. President of AHA of financial capacity from membership (Antwerp Hotel Association) is alone. Our goal is to create business Didier Boehlen, GM of Radisson and raise the demand for hotel rooms Blu Astrid Hotel. in Antwerp, not to defend our own interests. Didier Boehlen MIM Europe: What’s your view on Antwerp as a congress destination? Is it aiming at the international market? DB: Because of the lack of mutual coordination, organizing big meetings in Antwerp was traditionally difficult. If you’re working with multiple small, inde- pendent hotels, it’s a burden to quickly book a large number of rooms. A lot of opportunities were missed this way. We have a larger capacity and bigger rooms than Bruges for example, but they get more MICE business than we do. This will change in the near future: a direct train connection with Brussels Airport is underway (just 23 minutes), and in 2014 the Flanders Congress & Concert Centre will be ready: important new assets for Antwerp, making it a first class congress destination and “Mutual hotel coordination and a qualitative but cheap alternative to cooperation is the key to making Brussels. Mutual hotel coordination and AHA: The Antwerp cooperation is the key to making it all it all work. It’s a matter of work. It’s a matter of earning trust and Hotel Association earning trust andliving up to it.” living up to it. AHA was founded last June to promote Didier Boehlen MIM Europe: Are you satisfied with the Antwerp and its hotels, to improve their station area as a meeting destination? general image and to be a well known point DB: We’re happy, but not fully satisfied of contact for anyone needing a word with yet. We could be in 2015: with a new the hotel world. It also works on improv- MIM Europe: Why was it necessary congress centre, a new Keyserlei, a new ing and strengthening the cooperation to finally create a hotel association? Opera square and a tunnel under the between Flanders Tourism, Flanders Catering DB: When I started working here 18 Leien. The neighborhood’s atmosphere Federation, Antwerp Tourism & Congress and months ago, hotels weren’t really will change dramatically, and most likely other professional organizations. communicating with each other. We were for the better. We have a room capacity missing a general point of contact, and of more than 700 beds within walking decided to create an official non-profit distance of the station. We’ll be perfectly organization. All of our members pay suited for congresses of about 500-600 a fee – € 10 per room annually – which delegates. MIM 24