#1 Beurs van Berlage

Case
The 4th edition of The Digital Benchmark took place in Amsterdam between 28th and 30th September 2020. This international event brought digital decision-makers from the largest European companies together to discuss the choice and implementation of MarTech strategies. Combining workshops, gala dinners and conferences, the event’s main goal was to enable knowledge-sharing between peers and plenty of networking possibilities.

It was one of the first events that took place in the Beurs van Berlage since COVID-19 first hit the Netherlands last March. Due to the situation, we continuously liaised with our client on how we could ensure a safe and interesting event.

Challenge 
The most difficult challenge the event faced was the ever-changing regulations regarding
COVID-19. This created uncertainty during the event’s preparation period, but also during the event itself. We tackled the problem by following the strictest safety measures from the outset of the event. We were able to ensure our guests’ safety with the help of a newly developed guideline that was developed by our event professionals during the first few months of the COVID-19 crisis.

Solutions
The new guideline focuses on increasing hygiene standards and making sure that our guests could safely walk from one room to the next. This was ensured by providing new, individual meal boxes, via clear signage, and by organising one-way traffic in every corridor of the building.

During the event we noticed that everybody followed the instructions and precautions without question; they all understood the necessity of the measures and collaborated fully. This was also thanks to the clear communication of our client, EGB.

Results

During The Digital Benchmark event, 250 decision-makers visited the Dutch capital. Knowledge and experiences were shared, and people met each other in person for the first time in months. We are proud to have hosted such a safe event in the city of Amsterdam. The success of this event proves to us that it is possible to host safe meetings, as long as the safety measures are clearly communicated, and that all parties are committed to following them. 

#2 The Student Hotel

Case
Pre-COVID-19, we saw the Meeting & Events (M&E) industry was demanding change. Our answer: a brand-new M&E experience built around the latest trends and developments within the M&E industry. Our ground floor was in full construction-mode, being prepared for its grand reveal in late spring. And then... COVID-19 hit.

Challenge
The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has caused the biggest impact the hospitality industry will ever know. All of a sudden, the approach to the way we travel, stay and meet drastically changed. Which meant that, while our development-project was in full swing, we had to shift towards an unknown ‘new normal’.

Solutions
COVID-19 forced us, as a hybrid business, to prove that we are truly able to deliver that experience. For us, the traditional meeting room was already a thing of the past, but now we experienced an increasing demand for multifunctionality and flexibility. And so, we re-evaluated our product, implemented this new demand within our M&E experience, and created the professional playground: a full high-tech media studio, video conferencing boardrooms, large yet intimate spaces that host maximum capacity while adhering to the 1.5-metre distancing regulations. Plus, we offer online engagement tools to help turn online passive attendees into active participants, digitally connect our M&E facilities across our European properties and partner up with front-running audio & visual organisations in order to stay ahead of the latest developments.

Results
Hosting guests physically in safety, while simultaneously being able to get the on-site content connected to an online audience worldwide, became exactly what the education industry needed at this moment in time. We have become the proud host of several MBA programmes, where our facilities and services are operating in full hybrid. The huge amount of newly gained knowledge and experience enables us to add the digital space to the physical one. We continue to keep a close eye on what is happening, as in a world that keeps on moving, the ‘new normal’ may well be outdated tomorrow.

#3 Capital C

Case

After four years of refurbishment, Capital C had been open for just a few months in early 2020. The last construction projects were near completion and the calendar filled up with the biggest events imaginable from March on. All the offices were rented out and the co-working space started filling up nicely, as did the Stan & Co restaurant. But overnight, everything came to a standstill. Literally. Two options remained: immerse yourself in total panic or force yourself to radically change your way of thinking.

  

Challenge

On Monday 9th March, the phone didn’t stop ringing. We were hit with a deluge of cancellations and went from 100 bookings down to 0. And it wasn’t just us; the entire event sector was catastrophically impacted by the measures put into place and the creative sector was severely hit too. Campaigns were cancelled, productions could no longer take place and media buy-ins were stopped. We panicked for a second, but after one sleepless night, we realised we had no other option. We had to think differently, because our entire business model was dead. Events, bars and workplace environments for the creative sector were all no longer in play.

  

Solutions

First thing we did was have a brainstorm about an alternative to events. How can we build something that is comparable to the impressive charm and experience of walking into our space? Within 28 hours, we had realised a top-notch virtual studio, together with our technical partner Bourgonje. In our High Light, right under our glass dome. We wanted it to be plug and play, so everything was taken care of: technical staff, producers, cameras, interactive polls, chats, you name it. And it worked. Bookings for our studio slowly trickled in. And because word-of-mouth between companies was highly positive, things heated up fast. Capital C Connect was born.

  

Results

Our results speak for themselves. Within a couple of months of launching the virtual studio, we hosted more than 70 online streams and hybrid events. Companies such as Samsung, Salesforce, Amsterdam Open Air, Wereldhave, Greetz, Dutch Marketing Awards and a weekly talkshow by Adformatie have enjoyed our Capital C Connect studio with the Amsterdam skyline as its backdrop.

  

 

#4 The National Maritime Museum

Case
One Friday morning we received a request to host a dinner for 235 guests the following Monday. Due to a change in COVID-19 regulations, the original venue was now unable to host it. The dinner was part of an international conference in Amsterdam, and the congress organiser was very keen on keeping the whole group of attendees together at all times, to create as safe a bubble as possible. Therefore, a venue was needed that would fit everyone in while still being safe enough for them to all have dinner at the same time.

Challenge  
Due to COVID-19 regulations, only 50 guests were allowed per room, which meant we had to divide the group into smaller clusters and still make it feel like everyone was connected. With our Open Courtyard and three Chambers, we easily had four rooms. The client insisted on groups of at least 40 people, so we had to find a fifth suitable space since our Admiralty Boardroom and the Longroom aboard our Stad Amsterdam Clipper could only host 8-20 guests. What’s more, time was very limited. We only had Friday afternoon to get the client’s approval and place all the orders for catering, entertainment and bus transfers.

Solutions 
Thankfully, The National Maritime Museum is blessed with a lot of space! We managed to divide 235 guests over five different areas. COVID-19 regulations have constantly been changing over the past few months, and at the time of the event, it was: 50 guests per room.

We are very proud that we managed to adjust to every situation with our teams. Our sales team and operational team worked together, from the set-up right through to the end of the dinner. To reassure all the guests, the staff wore face masks during the event, even though it was not required by government regulations.

Results
A very anxious client turned into a completely satisfied person; one who was delighted with all the work we had put into the event. She felt entirely at ease and her strong desire to have all the guests dining together in one room vanished when she saw how we had set things up and how we followed regulations. This proved to us that we were on the right path with the event. All the guests had a lovely evening. And after everyone left, we took her for a glass of Champagne on the museum’s roof to celebrate a successful evening.

 

#5 DeLaMar Theater

Beeld: Jeancarlo Nunes dos Anjos

Case
After COVID-19 hit us and the events industry in March, the first events in DeLaMar Theater took place again in September. The first one was on 10th September with 220 attendees, and then we had two events on 15th September, with 70 and 30 guests respectively. With the current COVID-19 safety measures in place, however, we faced a challenge. There is more than enough space at the theatre to keep a safe distance but creating a seating area for everyone during the catering moments forced us to draw up tailor-made floorplans.

Challenge
With the experience we have gained from theatre plays, we have now managed to make a visit to the theatre as COVID-19-safe as possible. However, the measures for meetings became stricter and in September it was necessary to have a fixed seat for everyone during the catering moments as well. Catering is important during business events and this networking moment is often an essential part of the programme. So we had to come up with a solution.  

Solutions
We are fortunate in that each of our two theatre halls has three different entrances. We also have six foyers, which can be used as catering spots and walking routes. For each event, we carefully drew furniture and corresponding walking routes to and from the hall into the foyer floorplans. Each foyer was given a colour and all attendees were assigned a colour upon arrival, which made it possible to split them into small groups. In order to avoid queues, individual groups were brought to and from the hall, and all catering during the plenary sessions was set up per person at the seats (lunch boxes, snack break, drink cartons).

Results
All three events took place, safely and according to the regulations. We noticed that the guests were happy to be present at a live event again and we received positive feedback about the measures taken. One of the clients has even indicated that they would like to return five times in 2021!

 

#6 Amerpodia – Felix Meritis

Beeld: Lennert Antonissen

Case
Amerpodia is a collective of four cultural venues, situated in the heart of Amsterdam. With our programmes, we contribute substantially to the cultural life and community of the city and the Netherlands. Nowadays, the need for interaction between boards and management teams working in the cultural industry is more urgent than ever before. Together with ABN AMRO and Marc Noyons & Partners, we organised a conference for all stakeholders in the industry – the Cultural Business Day on 25th June – to discuss the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, but also to look ahead, inspire and offer attendees the opportunity to make new contacts.

Challenge
In June 2020, safety restrictions dictated that the maximum group size per meeting room was 30 people. Nevertheless, we wanted to reach a much larger target audience.

Solutions
We created a hybrid version of the conference. This meant that 30 people were physically able to attend the conference at Felix Meritis and many hundreds more followed the programme via livestream. In Felix Meritis’ historic Zuilenzaal (Pillar Room), a 1.5-metre-proof setting was created, which provided a safe meeting environment. Amerpodia’s own livestream team broadcast the conference via amerpodia.nl/en.

Results
The Cultural Business Day was a success and sold out in no time. Among others, speaker Hans de Jong (president of Philips Nederland) presented his vision on ever-changing business strategies, which is something that is also constantly applicable to the cultural industry. Delegates from cultural stakeholders, as well as their partners and suppliers, attended. We had the pleasure of welcoming attendees from the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam Dance Event, IDFA (International Documentary Festival Amsterdam) and EYE Film Museum. On the 8th October, we organised a second edition of the conference, which was a success yet again.

 

#7 Hotel Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam

Case
Following the first lockdown, the capacity limit for outdoor venues was larger than that of indoor ones, and with a huge courtyard and private garden at our disposal, we realised we should create something outdoors that could increase our number of covers and which also allowed us to be flexible and safe. In order to provide an unusual experience and an addition to our existing outlets, we went all-out and created a real beach terrace with sand underfoot, great music and a BBQ, for people to come and enjoy great-tasting food and drinks and a sense of being in the south of France.      

Challenge 
The challenge was not so much the creating of the beach (as we had hosted a similar client event before so we knew that the style would be fun), but how we would attract Amsterdam locals to something completely new whereby the COVID-19 regulations (1.5-metre social distancing, etc) were still on people’s minds. Would there be a ‘need’ and demand for a beach terrace at one of Amsterdam’s luxury hotels? From the success it became, the answer was a clear, Yes! The public really took to it, and we will certainly be repeating it in 2021.  

Solutions
We were able to attract the city’s residents by employing a very active/proactive (mass) press campaign and getting the message out there in full force. We promoted a visit to the ‘one-and-only’ downtown beach terrace, not only for food and drinks, but also for movie nights, tasting evenings and for private events. And as this was one of the first new (positive) concepts to be developed during the COVID-19 pandemic, we received fantastic media exposure (from printed publications and online platforms to expat sites and lifestyle media) as well as the PR on our own social media and that of our guests.

Results
The greatest satisfaction was that we managed to create a completely new outlet; one that was a huge success, that attracted locals, and that brought joy to clients and to the team. Which was priceless in itself during COVID-19 times. While it was open, we welcomed 7,500 guests to our beach terrace, hosted 10 movie nights, 4 tasting evenings and 12 private events and generated a revenue of €200,000 and unmeasurable media value from the aforementioned avenues.


#8 Postillion Hotel

Case
Lately, the conversation has primarily been about distancing. But at Postillion Hotels, we feel very much connected. After recovering from the initial shock, we immediately started working hard. We soon realised that now was precisely the time to show what we’re made of: engaged staff who think in solutions. We quickly came up with NXTMICE: the Netherlands’ very first metre-and-a-half convention. Its topic? The future of the MICE sector. Not only did this result in plenty of positive feedback, we also showed that, even under the strict measures imposed at that time, so many things could still be done and organised. And – equally important – it really brought people together.

Challenge
Nothing beats looking each other straight in the eye, inspiring and challenging each other, and brainstorming together, both verbally and non-verbally. We met physically in three locations, as well as online. This involved both groups and individuals; leisure and hospitality students followed our convention from our hotel rooms. That cross-pollination turned out to be the secret ingredient for an inspiring event during difficult times. We were also a driving force behind Showcase Holland: a platform where people from the industry shared best practices and where we offered each other support and inspiration.

Solutions
Of course, it didn’t end with NXTMICE. We pushed on and developed smart boarding passes that enabled us to organise the routing through our locations in a more visually appealing and smarter way. At a single glance, it was clear what entrance should be used for which meeting, and what the corresponding parking spaces were.


Results

Our approach gave, and still gives, people the confidence to continue organising meetings. We’ve shown that even with restrictive measures in place, surprising and inspiring meetings are possible. Our location will be closed until the end of November. But, just like in the first lockdown, we will use that time to make an even stronger comeback, with even more innovative ideas and renewed energy. Because at Postillion Hotels, we like to think in solutions. We want to show what can be done