How can you make sure you reach the right audience?
"We have a culture of innovating and trying things all the time. That is why we have our Leaders’ Summit, where we invite 100 top CEOs from Europe to come and debate strategic issues. At the other end, it’s the first year of our Rising Stars programme, where we’re inviting people fresh out of university and just starting in the industry to come together and learn.”
What has kept you coming back to Amsterdam for over 20 years?
“The initial attractions are still there. It is a very open and multicultural city; it has got fantastic international connections. The language of our business, and one that is spoken very widely and very well in Amsterdam, is English. The RAI is a well-positioned facility with a good team of people, and the City is working hard to understand that we’ve got a long-term sustainable business and we want long-term relationships.”
Can you explain what IBC does?
“IBC is a partnership of six industry bodies that represent the visitors to the convention and the exhibitors. Most of them are charities – organisations such as the Royal Television Society. It’s part of our ethos that we’re organised by the industry, for the industry. The two main elements are the huge exhibition that this year will cover 14 halls – the RAI is building two extra ones for us – and a six-day conference that covers current and future technological, business and creative issues.”
IBC covers all aspects of broadcasting: content creation, technology, the commercial side…
"It’s a lot wider than broadcasting these days – it covers every aspect of the creation, management and delivery of news and entertainment content on all forms of electronic media. The simple way to look at it is that you have four screens – a mobile device, a computer screen, a TV screen and a cinema screen. But all of these are capable of receiving rich and interactive content. Our job is to make sense of how those devices can be used to receive rich entertainment and news media.”
Amsterdam and Hilversum are a huge hub for the international broadcasting industry.
How important is that for IBC?
“What we look for is the best event base. People come from over 160 countries, so for us it’s about having the hub that can provide the best venue, the best support, the best facilities - and Amsterdam has always managed to provide that. Amsterdam is a fantastic city. It’s like a big village, it’s got a fantastic atmosphere. Our heart is in Amsterdam, as of this year we’ve been there for 20 years and we’ve got good relationships. It is important that we keep our business head in alignment, and that just requires an open conversation, which is very easy to have in Amsterdam.”
How important is it to be able to work with a host city?
“There are 750,000 people in Amsterdam and we inject another 50,000 to it in three days. That can’t come as a surprise. There has to be a lot of planning and forward negotiations. You cannot have 1,000 extra people an hour coming out of Central Station and getting on the number four tram. You have to have so many more trams and buses and free passes and everything or the place will come to a halt. We spend tens of millions of euros in that one week, so it’s important for an economic reason, however it’s also important that the Amsterdammers and IBC feel part of it. But we’ve grown up together – when we first came to Amsterdam, attendance was 8,000 to 10,000; now it is more than 50,000.”
Do you get much free time when you are here?
“I make free time. Everyone who comes to IBC – we’re not the sort of people who sit in the hotel, we’re out connecting with our stakeholders and meeting new people. It’s a part of the ethos of the entertainment business. But Amsterdam is not that big and I would advise people to get a map and have a wander around. The mixture of art, culture and café life is worth experiencing on foot.”
Ever been tempted to cycle?
“I have occasionally ridden a bike. I didn’t really like it that much – the trams can be quite deadly! But you’d be amazed how many people do hire bikes. We bring many students and hire in a load of bikes and that’s how they get around. We feel very close to the city of Amsterdam and we enjoy being there. It’s part of our DNA now.”
Read full testimonial here.