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TAKE5 gives you an update on the latest Meetings, Incentives, Congress, Events and related news. It contains short and to the point information on venues, people, happenings, lifestyle and general news that cannot wait to be told!

Enjoy BBT Online's 115th Take5 edition. Our Take5 newsletter is completely advertorial free.

Fantastic new urban venue in Brussels
Strokar Strokar

Strokar Inside is a new venue open since November 2018 and based in the old building of a former supermarket in Brussels. It’s been painted full of awesome murals and was basically turned into a temple of contemporary urban art: it’s a mix of a museum, a gallery, a bar area, a shop and a skate park.

It offers 5,000 m² of space that can be used for a wide variety of events. A venue that large and that wonderfully converted in the middle of one of Brussels’ most exclusive neighbourhoods looks like a blessing for the event industry, unfortunately, it seems the venue is very temporary and will eventually be replaced by luxury apartments.

Have a look at this short video to see the venue more in detail, click here.

Strokar Strokar Strokar
Strokar Strokar Strokar
New designer hotel in the centre of Brussels


Hotel Hubert is a new designer hotel in the centre of Brussels, right in front of the St-Hubert Royal Galleries and very close to the Grand Place.

It comes with 100 rooms, a restaurant on the ground floor and a vintage food truck in the evening. Guest convenience is key here: there is a fast and easy online check-in system present, and hosts to assist your every need.

Several options for breakfast are available, and cookies and coffee are complimentary in the lobby area. The hotel opened last December.

Hubert Hubert
We publish much more news than you can read and see in our monthly Take5 Newsletter. Follow us on our Facebook page.
New venue – New b2b workshop
JJ House JJ House

Our summer b2b speed date workshop will be at the brand new JJ House – a multipurpose venue in Antwerp that just opened on January 14 this year.

JJ House is a creative project by Sihame El Kaouakibi and Erika Xuan Nguyen: two strong, young women and household names in Antwerp. Shima is founder of Let’s go Urban and Wannawork: a social company that wants to bridge the gap between the urban youngsters of today and the business world and Erika is co-founder of Wannawork and owner of Doi Doi restaurant. Two ladies who make the difference.

JJHouse, home of the now, is meant to be a meeting place for the urban mix of people in Antwerp, and serves as a co-working space and a beautiful event venue as well. In our next Take5 newsletter you can read a full interview with these 2 ladies.

The venue is located in a historic building that belonged to baroque painter Jacob Jordaens, and was transformed into a 2,000m² urban space with several rooms that will be completely privatised for our event. For more info, check:

So save-the-date: Monday June 24. Registrations are already open for both MICE planners and suppliers. You can mail us at

Erika Xuan Nguyen and  Sihame El Kaouakibi JJ House
Teambuilding in Brussels
Rustic new pop-up near Brussels

Koezio Dockx Brussels is a training centre where you and your teammates will learn how to be “special agents”, by going through a 2-hour mission.

It mixes physical and intellectual skills, baffling you with riddles as well as acrobatics, all in a 5,000m² interactive space. Koezio will be one of many suppliers on our summer workshop in Antwerp on 24 June, together with

The Barn

Looking for an unique winter location for your next event, meeting or workshop? Wildtrails comes with a new pop-up location in Vilvoorde. The Barn is a cosy farm with several spacious rooms, a large tent with a fire circle, a winter garden and lots and lots of atmosphere.

It’s the perfect venue for a winter bbq or a foodtruck party.

The Barn
It's better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation!
Elegant new venue in Antwerp

Looking for a contemporary but authentic place for your next event? The new Mozaic in Antwerp offers a unique venue on ‘t Eilandje, with a rich history behind its façade.

It comes with an intimate lounge, a spacious 300m² terrace and two floors connected by a staircase. Ideal for dinners, cocktail parties, conferences and other events.
An old classic revitalised in Antwerp
Plein Publiek is back

The old Antwerp stock exchange used to be one of the most beautiful architectural wonders dating back to the city’s golden age, but in the last few decades it got abandoned and the building deteriorated quickly.

Now, the whole structure and all of its original floors and domes are being restored. Part of it will become a 5-star Marriott with 138 rooms, and its gorgeous central hall will be open for events as from September this year.

A very unique “new” venue in the city centre – with a Q-park right under it.
Plein Publiek

Plein publiek – a popup greenhouse in the middle of a couple of abandoned apartment blocks – was a staple of the Antwerp nightlife scene before it was closed down. Now it’s back right next to the Scheldt River.

It comes with a brand new, zero-waste restaurant and several sustainable shops. It is of course available as a very versatile event location as well, and can be booked on any day of the week.

A must see location with a great view on the river. Plein Publiek will open a restaurant in Brussels as well.
An ode to Belgian chocolate

Last month, the Chocolate Nation was finally opened next to the Radisson Blu Hotel across from the Antwerp Central Station – in the space Aquatopia used to be in. With more than 4,000m² of space, it’s the biggest of its kind on the planet.

BBT Online had the privilege to visit the venue before it opened its doors. Our first impression was very positive. The venue is gorgeous and there’s lots to see and do. It’s all very far removed from your standard – and sometimes boring - museum.

The new restaurant is great as well.

Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate
Two cool new spots for events in Eindhoven – The Netherlands

The Blue Collar Hotel in Eindhoven in the Netherlands has a perfect mix of nostalgia and rock & roll, located in an old Philips factory in the booming Strijp-S area.

Cold drinks, excellent meals and comfortable beds - all at affordable prices. They regularly host concerts in the adjacent theatre, but it’s also an extremely cool spot for events. Just look at that interior!

Eindhoven Eindhoven

Also in Eindhoven, splendid and recently completely renovated is Thomas Café, Bar & Restaurant. High ceilings, superb murals and lots and lots of pink! Available for high tea, cocktails, dinner and dancing (and bookable for events of course).

The interior design is completely and utterly crazy, but we love it.

It’s clear that pink is the new hype for venues. More pink venues in Antwerp are: Mooy (lunch combined with skincare), Chez Claire, you remember our delicious and very original eclairs at our workshop of summer 2018, high tea at Cuisinette Domestic.

In Brussels: Le Parisienne Louise; restaurant with burgers, sushi and pasta. Amsterdam: Mama Kelly, restaurant where you only have 2 choices: chicken or lobster.


It's better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation!
New nhow hotels opening
nhow hotels nhow hotels

Liberty International (an association of DMCs) invited BBT Online for a b2b workshop on 22 January – yes, that one snowy day. The workshop was planned in Rotterdam. The hotel we stayed at was nhow Rotterdam, which was really a venue to our taste.

nhow hotels nhow hotels nhow hotels

Modern, but not cliché thirteen-in-a-dozen modern: lots of original ideas throughout and what’s so important but many hotels seem to forget: very friendly staff.

Several new nhow hotels will be opening in the next 3 years: London, Amsterdam Rai and Santiago de Chile and Lima. Hotel BLOOM! in Brussels will turn into an nhow as well.

A hotel concept for the next generation
Cook Cook Cook
Cook Cook Cook

Cook’s Club Hotels – adults only - is the newest hotel concept by Thomas Cook, specially designed for a new generation of travellers: contemporary and minimalistic design, tasty and healthy food, great cocktails and other drinks and perfect beats by live deejays all day long.

These trendy hotels will all open in 2019: Palma Beach (april), Kos (april), Alanya (April) Crete (May), Marmaris (May), Sardinia (June), Rhodes (July) and El Gouna Turkey (August). Next winter, a hotel will open in The Gambia as well.

Cook Cook
We publish much more news than you can read and see in our monthly Take5 Newsletter. Follow us on our Facebook page.
Winter in Oslo: Destination report

From 8 to 12 December, BBT Online was invited to attend VIPeace 2018. This famtrip – organised by VisitOslo during the Nobel Peace Prize weekend – is meant to showcase the many qualities of the Norwegian capital for meetings and incentives.

Our journalist Jonathan landed in a snowy but sunny Oslo that was already getting into the Christmas spirit. Four days in a versatile winter wonderland: the perfect way to end a fantastic 2018.

Click here to read it all.

Oslo Oslo Oslo
Eight hours in Montréal: Destination report
Montréal Montréal

Hugo Slimbrouck, Ovation Global DMC’s Director of Strategic Partnerships, recently took an eight hour stop in Canada.

Instead of just spending it drinking beers at the airport, Hugo took full advantage of his time and spent the day in the city of Montréal where he very briefly experienced a beautiful Indian summer.

Apparently, there’s a lot a person can do in eight hours. Click here to read the full story.


Join us for a trip to the Swiss Alps
Event planner salary

The Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau, Lucerne Convention Bureau and the brand new Radisson Blu Hotel Reussen invite you for a three day famtrip to Lucerne, Andermatt and the Lake Lucerne region.

Join this amazing trip from 22 to 24 March, and discover a variety of Swiss venues, activities and destinations. Check out the full programme here.

Register yourself by sending a mail to

Most of us don’t just work for the money – we like creating amazing experiences, meeting new people and the chance to travel on the job.

But do you ever wonder what kind of money your industry competitors are making? Do you think your salary stacks up?

EventMB investigated whether or not your earnings in the event industry are likely to increase in the year to come, while also analysing the job market to reveal the opportunities that are out there.

The good news is that on average, our salaries are on the rise. Want to know more, click here the link for the full article.
Influencer marketing in the MICE industry
Ready-to-serve cocktails on your event
Influencer marketing

While associations are using many different marketing techniques to attract new members, attendees or sponsors, one method is very absent in the industry: influencer marketing. Many companies all over the spectrum are using influencers to promote their business, but the meeting industry is only just catching up to the trend.

In an EventMB survey, less than 25% of planners said they were considering investing in influencer marketing, while more than 30% stated they did not intent to do so at all. To read more about the importance of influencer marketing, click here.

Molotov Drinks – part of Molotov Events – has been producing a wide variety of pre-mixed cocktails and drinks on events for more than 20 years now. Made especially for event organisers and caterers, they offer ready-to-serve cocktails, sustainably packaged in KeyKegs.

These special kegs can be attached to almost all commercial tap installations. This way you can offer quality cocktails for a very good price on your events without having to mix them yourselves. Check out their webshop to see what’s on offer.
Real Short !!

Consult BBT Online's MICE agenda, and don't miss any event.
14-17 February, Brussels: Bright Brussels, Festival of Light: Eleven artists will turn several neighbourhoods in Brussels into a spectacle of lights. The event starts on Valentine’s Day: perfect opportunity for a romantic date.
The biggest event dedicated to chocolate and cocoa in Belgium will take place in Tour and Taxis from 22 to 24 February.
23 February, Brussels: Museum Night Fever. Brussels Museum Night is back, and this year, they invited 1,000 young talents to make it an unforgettable experience. Expect major exhibitions, performances, guided tours and an amazing after party.
28 Februari – 1 March, Brussels: European Association Summit. Register for this year’s edition of EAS: a peer-to-peer education and networking forum designed by associations for associations.
The International Women’s Day is a great occasion to learn from, network with and celebrate authentic and successful women, as well as men actively engaged in accelerating the efforts to achieve a more gender balanced world. On 8 March PWI (Professional women international Brussels) organises a gala dinner at le Chatelain Boutique Hotel.
On March 14 in Brussels, MPI Belgium will organise a workshop dedicated to event planners (corporate and associations) to help negotiate better event contracts with venues. Experts will share their tips and tricks of negotiating a venue contract, where to pay attention and how to increase a value of a contract. Info:
28 March, Théâtre du Vaudeville, Brussels: Hotel Barrière Workshop. Send a mail to Béatrice Hoisne if you want to attend this elegant French hotel brand’s workshop in Brussels.
27 April, everywhere in The Netherlands: King’s Day. Order your orange beer hats right now and join the biggest party of the year in one of many Dutch cities.
9 May, Area 42, Brussels: BOA Awards. Submit your case via the link below for your agency to have a chance of winning one of the Best of Activation Awards this May:
21-23 May, Messe, Frankfurt: IMEX 2019. Register now for one of the biggest shows in the industry.
27-31 May 2019, Famtrip Kyrgyzstan. Nomadstan Travel Agency and Turkish Airlines invite you to a famtrip to Kyrgyzstan. Interested? Get in touch with or Marc Lambert ( whose Qvovadis is sponsoring this trip. Cost for the journey is €399 all inclusive.
1 August 2019, Koksijde: Night of the Proms Summer Edition. The first names for the first summer edition of the Night of the Proms were just announced. Next to the inevitable John Miles, Gérard Lenorman and DJ Regi were already confirmed.

The number of business trips and the associated costs will increase in 2019 according the 14th annual International Travel Management Study (Oct 2018) of AirPlus International. 777 travel managers from 24 countries were interviewed.
The members of ACC – association of communication companies – brought the new trends of 2019 in the communication sector: in 2019 we communicate with people, measurable and creative. Behind this link you can find the full report.
Until March 3 you still can vote for the Visit.Brussels Awards. There are 8 different categories. More info, click here.
Looking for some inspiration for your next event? EventMB just published a list with 200 original catering ideas, click here.
Also from EventMB: this freely downloadable book on work-life balance for event planners.
Neuroshaping is designed around the senses, and a powerful strategy for congress and meeting events. The goal is to create a deep, lasting impact on the brain to increase desired memories, skills and states of mind, using a number of methods. It consists of five core elements: storytelling, sound, visuals, lighting and situations.
Espace Drone is the first Belgian drone pilot training centre, as well as one of many new suppliers on BBT Online’s summer b2b workshop in Antwerp on 24 June.
Site announced the formation of a new chapter – Site Thailand – during the 2019 Site Global Conference, which took place Jan 11-13. With the addition of Thailand, Site now has 30 chapters worldwide and 2,480 members based in 90 countries.
FCM Travel Solutions was awarded the title of “Leading Travel Management Company” for the eighth time in a row on the World Travel Awards in Lisbon. Strong competitors like American Express Global Business Travel, BCD Travel and CWT Travel were beaten in the race for the top spot.

Soon, Venice will expand its tourist tax to day trippers to the city. The tax will be somewhere between €2.50 and €10, and will make for about €50 million of extra income. In the last few years, Venice almost crumbled under the relentless tourist pressure: there are just 55,000 inhabitants in the city centre but more than 10 million overnight stays were booked. The money is needed for urgent maintenance.
More than 2 million overnight stays were booked in Antwerp last year, which is quite the growth from the 1.7 million stays five years ago.
Plovdiv (Bulgaria) and Matera (Italy) will be the European Capitals of Culture this year. Both cities have a very long history, with lots of it still visible today.
The Crystal Ship is an art festival in Ostend. Fifteen artists covered walls in the city in large and colourful murals. Guided tours for groups to see all of the artwork can be booked as well:
Tourism Ireland’s new “Fill your heart with Ireland” campaign was based on the heart rates of two Swedish travellers who had never been to Ireland. They visited several lesser known destinations, all of which made their (measured) heartbeat rise. Hopefully one of them wasn’t falling off of the Cliffs of Moher – that would have made of a record rate.

Hotel Riga is a new boutique hotel in Antwerp that was opened last December. It comes with twelve beautiful rooms and is located in a former and well-known suitcase store.
Brussels Airport Company will take over Airhotel Belgium bvba: the company currently in charge of the airport’s Sheraton Hotel. Brussels Airport will now directly own a strategic location right across from the terminal and will further invest in it. The hotel comes with 294 rooms and 21 meeting rooms.
The new Leonardo Royal Hotel Amsterdam is the first of its brand in The Netherlands and the largest of its group in total, with 490 rooms, 18 floors and a 900m² ballroom looking out over the water. It also houses 11 meeting rooms with a total surface area of 1,200m².
Hard Rock Hotel International will open it’s first Hard Rock Hotel in the Netherlands, in Amsterdam. Opening is foreseen in April 2020.
Citizen M will open a third hotel in Amsterdam. The Dutch brand is building a new venue on the Weesper square. It will have 88 rooms and several conference halls, and will open April this year.
The Efteling Hotel opened a new suite: the Raveleijn Suite is full of references to the spectacular show in the park with the same name. Perfect for a fairy tale night – whatever that means to you personally.
Center Parcs closed a deal with Blackstone to invest €200 million in renewing seven of its biggest holiday parks: Erperheide en De Vossemeren in Belgium, and five other parks in The Netherlands and Germany. 4,800 cottages in total will be renovated.
Vintry & Mercer is a new boutique hotel in London that will open its doors this month. It comes with 92 rooms, an underground speakeasy, a rooftop terrace and an Asian inspired restaurant.
Iberostar Llaut Palma is a new 5-star venue in Playa de Palma on Mallorca. It offers 186 rooms, three restaurants, three bars, a spa, a fitness centre, two pools, and a 110 pax conference room.
Apurva Kempinski Bali is a brand new resort in Bali’s Nusa Dua area. It comes with 475 guest rooms, suites and villas, six restaurants and bars, an ocean facing spa and a 1,000m² pillar-free grand ballroom.
You & Me by Cocoon Maldives is a private and romantic island in an untouched corner of the Maldives. A brand new, 5-star resort is opening there on 1 March: a quiet relaxing retreat, far away from any other hotel.
Until 2022 some 10 new hotels will open in Oman, in Al Seeb, Al Jissah and Ras Al Had. In total, more than 2,000 hotel rooms will be added. In February 2019 the W Hotel opens in Muscat, with 289 rooms overlooking the Gulf of Oman. Two new hotels opened in 2018: the 5-star Fraser Suites Muscat opened in August and since November guests can visit the 3-star Sama Hotel in Jabal Al Akhdar. After an intensive renovation, the 5-star Al Bustan Palace of the prestigious hotel group Ritz-Carlton reopened in October 2018.

Indoor Ski run Aspen in Wilrijk (Antwerp), sponsored by Swiss canton Wallis, got an extensive upgrade recently. It now comes with new ramps and other bumps and slides for the more daring skiers to enjoy. It houses several different halls for events as well, making for a unique combination with the ski slopes.
SANBA is a new hotspot on ‘t Eilandje in Antwerp, and is a mixture of an event hall, a coworking space and a place to have lunch.
If you want something unique and totally different – a way to let loose and blow off steam, a new venue opened in December last year in the city centre of Brussels: axes (bijlen/haches) throwing.

The Dutch flight ticket site FlyGRN was proclaimed the “Best Travel Idea of 2019” on the Holiday Fair in Utrecht. The site compares ticket rates and pays the CO2-compensation for the flight you buy mainly out of its own pocket by putting part of its margin per ticket in compensation funds.
Brussels Airport welcomed 25,675,939 travellers last year, which is a 3.6% growth compared to last year. The growth was primarily reached on the intercontinental network, but short distance flights did well too.
Brussels Airlines is moving its Moscow route from Domodedovo to Sheremetyevo International Airport starting June 2nd. Travellers looking for a flight to the other airport can book with Swiss and Lufthansa.
KLM is looking to end its tax free on board sales. Reason: tax free products don’t bring enough money in due to the competition of online stores, but take up a lot of space and weight. KLM wants to make more money on luggage, meals and seat choice though: sounds like bad news for clients to be honest. Who wants to pay for luggage and meals on a non-low cost flight?
Starting this may, United Airlines will use the Boeing B787-10 – its largest Dreamliner plane – on its Brussels-Newark connection. It fits 318 passengers.
Brussels Airlines will replace seven of its ten Airbus A330 planes with newer models in the coming two years. The new planes will be more sustainable and less noisy.
Air Europe took more than 11 million passengers to their destinations last year, which is a 10% rise compared to 2017. Here as well, the growth was mainly achieved on long distance flights.
Wizz Air is opening 2 new routes linking Belgium and the Netherlands with Georgia. Wizz will fly to Kutaisi 3 times a week from Eindhoven on 1 August 2019 and from Brussels South to Kutaisi twice a week from 4 August.

Only four years after joining the meeting industry, Anja Stas, CCO of Flanders Meeting and Convention Center Antwerp, joined the ICCA board as co-chair for the sector venues. She was elected with a vast majority of the votes. The board of ICCA has never had a female member from Belgium before.
After almost 17 years at Thon Hotels, Celine Batteauw says goodbye to her colleagues and takes on a new challenge as Quality Destination Expert for
Paul Black left NYC and Company after more than eight years, and joined London & Partners on 21 January. His former function will be taken over by Ruth Bennett.
Fabienne Van Megroot just became Icelandair’s new Account Manager for Belgium. Because of the increasing number of flights between Brussels and Reykjavik, the Icelandair’s sales team was in need of expansion.
Ann-Sofie Van Wonterghem, Procurement Responsible Indirect Spend at Barco, was elected as Travel Professional of the Year 2018 by the suppliers of the Belgian Association of Travel Management (BATM).
49 year old Anne Rigail just became Air France’s first female CEO. She takes over from Ben Smith. Rigail has been working for the company for 27 years.


Karin de Graauw – Editor-in-chief BBT Online
Av. Louise 279 – 1050 Brussels – Belgium
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