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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 116th Take5 edition. Our Take5 newsletter is completely advertorial free.

Wish we were here! - Mexico


Awakening in Riviera Maya, Mexico will be (in its own words) the “world’s first happiness-themed boutique hotel”. It will open in 2020 and looks very, very promising.

The guests will not stay in your standard hotel room but will instead sleep in “human cocoons”. These are futuristic pods that look like a cross between a beach cabin and a tree house. The concept art looks absolutely amazing: it feels like a fairy-tale village.

We would not mind staying here to wind down for a couple of days, that’s for sure.

Mexico Mexico
Invitation: educational trip to Kazakhstan for Belgian and Dutch MICE planners

Rising up from the vast steppes like a glimmering sculpture garden, the Kazakh capital Astana looks like a miracle city.

This dynamic political and commercial centre is one of Central Asia’s most exciting, rewarding and undiscovered destinations. And now you can experience it in person, on a famtrip from 10 to 14 May with Marc Lambert’s Qvovadis, Transtour, LOT (Polish Airlines) and BBT Online. We have spots for 8 persons.

More information? Send us an e-mail to Both Belgian and Dutch MICE planners can register.


It's better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation!
Association world congress
World Congress

After a great edition in Antwerp last year, the Association World Congress will now set up camp in the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre in Gothenburg. The whole programme with all activities and keynote speakers was just published and can be received by the link below.

The Association World Congress is organised by the Association of Association Executives and is one of the industry’s main educational and networking events. It will take place from 7 to 9 April.

Click here for the programme.
EMEC19 by MPI: diary of an interactive event

The European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC19) organised by MPI Netherlands in The Hague, came with a unique event design and the theme “Changing the Game”. The programme was focused on four main topics: risk management, design thinking, leadership and meeting perspectives.

Instead of the usual sitting and listening, all 330 delegates were constantly stimulated to interact.

Joris Eyck Creative group assignments in the Louwman Museum on the opening day, visiting companies and organisations outside of the meeting industry to gain new insights and a huge escape game in the Fokker Terminal. This of course combined with active workshops on the key topics.

HelmsBriscoe’s Joris Eyck attended the show and wrote an article about it for us.

Click here to read it.

Hanging out in Ha Long Bay – Destination report

From 14 to 18 January, our journalist Jonathan stayed in Vietnam’s mythical Ha Long Bay to attend the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2019. This trade show was originally founded to put the ten different ASEAN countries on the market as one varied destination and is now on its 38th run.

There would be lots of one-on-one talks, lots of networking opportunities and hopefully an exploration of Ha Long Bay and its incentive possibilities. Getting there was half of the adventure though.

Click the link to read the whole story.

Ha Long Bay Ha Long Bay
We publish much more news than you can read and see in our monthly Take5 Newsletter. Follow us on our Facebook page.
Hong Kong: a visit to Asia’s Manhattan – Destination report
Hong Kong Hong Kong

From 14 (yes, departure on St. Valentine’s day) to 18 February, Qvovadis, Toureast, Cathay Pacific, Brussels Airport, Meetings & Exhibitions Hong Kong together with BBT Online invited a group of Belgian MICE planners to Hong Kong: one of the busiest, craziest and most exciting destinations in Asia.

For 4 days, they would be taken by the hand to discover the city’s greatest sights and best hidden secrets. It proved to be an urban adventure.

Click here to read the whole story.

Hong Kong Hong Kong
Dubai in full preparation for the 2020 World Expo – Destination report

BBT Online’s Karin de Graauw joined another famtrip to Dubai. It reacquainted her with some of her favourite venues and activities in the Emirates, which is always nice, but she would also visit a destination in full preparation for the 2020 World Expo – the first edition to be hosted in one of the Gulf States.

Knowing Dubai and seeing the preparations, it’s going to be quite a spectacular event. As well as another big boost for the MICE industry of course.

Click here to read the full story.

Dubai Dubai Dubai
It's better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation!
Your meeting venue in a secret location
Meeting on an uninhabited island

Slow Cabins is a Belgian company offering temporary eco homes for rent. These can be put on beautiful undiscovered and secret!! locations close to home or work, and allow you to leave the pressure of daily life for a refreshing stay in nature.

They also offer the country’s first fully autonomous mobile meeting room. Here you can meet in an inspiring and peaceful atmosphere, or impress your clients by inviting them to a completely secret unconventional location.
uninhabited island

Vuurtoreneiland is a beautiful little island on the Markermeer close to Amsterdam. There’s an old fortress on it, as well as the city’s only lighthouse. It’s also completely uninhabited. Recently, the fort was converted into a beautiful winter restaurant.

In summer there will be an outside restaurant instead. The former officer’s room in the fortress was turned into a meeting room for 12 people. A fantastic venue for an experience far from what you usually expect to get in Amsterdam.
New design hotel in Limburg
New venue looking out over the water
Black Label Hotel

Black Label Hotels is opening a second venue in The Netherlands this April, close to Maastricht. The hotel will be located in the former Valkenburg Brewery, and will be a design hotel with what they call a rough edge.

It comes with three meeting rooms and a large event hall for 400 people. There’s a 300 car parking lot next to the venue as well.

Meeting and event location Zwier in Vinkeveen (just outside Amsterdam) is building a new venue opening on April 1: De Huiskamer (“the living room”). The new space has room for 100 guests and its large glass windows look out over the water.

The atmosphere is – logically – homely, with lots of plants, a fireplace and an open kitchen.
Another new venue for congresses
Hospitality is everything

Oesterdam is located in the Oosterschelde National park, the Netherlands, and just 40 km from Antwerp.

Last year, they started the construction of a brand new beach club, right in the middle of nature. In summer you can enjoy events or dinner on Cabana beach, and in winter you’ll get to sit around the fireplace or on one of the heated terraces instead.

The venue comes with a trendy restaurant, as well as a private dining area. Five special locations will be bookable for company retreats, congresses and meetings.

The venue comes with 34 luxury suites, as well as several separate houses for 4 to 16 people. The opening is planned for this April.

We at BBT Online have stayed at some of the finest hotels on the planet, and we feel very lucky to have experienced them. But often we stay in far simpler places as well, and strangely enough it’s not always that 5-star superior venue lingering on in our memory. Hospitality is one of the main factors on which we rate a stay, but not all venues seem to have gotten that memo.

Carla Maessen Bilderberg Hotel De Keizerskroon’s GM Carla Maessen stars in a webinar on how to improve the customer experience of your guests by thinking and acting from a hospitality framework.

She shares a couple of handy and clear tips in the video behind this link.

Two new venues in Antwerp

Hotel August is a new hotel in the so called “Green Quarter” of Antwerp, where the former military hospital was. It has 44 unique rooms and suites spread out over a former Augustinian convent, and the restaurant was put in a sunlit chapel.

It also comes with a separate wellness zone and a private swimming pond. A unique venue in a very charming setting.

In the same area, you’ll find Stokers, a new place for co-working, open to entrepreneurs and knowledge workers. It’s located in another one of the site’s original buildings and comes with nine meeting rooms, of which the Mezzanine can seat 60 people and host up to 150. Stokers will be present at BBT Online's b2b workshop on June 24 in Antwerp.

august-antwerp stokers stokers
BBT Online’s bucket list – Sabine Neirings - MaX

Every month we ask some prominent MICE personalities to share their bucket list.

What are the five things they desperately want to do or achieve before they seize to be, push up the daisies, kick the bucket or go to meet their maker? In short, what would they definitely want to do before they die?

This month we asked Sabine Neirings, Freelance Incentive travel consultant at MaX.

Sabine Neirings Sabine Neirings Sabine Neirings
Real Short !!

Consult BBT Online's MICE agenda, and don't miss any event.
24 March, Belgian Coast: Eneco Clean Beach Cup. On Sunday, 24 March, all Belgian surf clubs and a couple of beach towns in France and The Netherlands will organise a joint beach spring cleaning in order to raise awareness of the plastic waste problem in our seas and oceans.
21-23 May, Messe, Frankfurt: IMEX 2019. Register yourself for one of the biggest tradeshows in our industry. Now with a special association day the day before the show opens.
BBT Online organises the 16th edition of their successful BBT Online b2b workshop in Antwerp on June 24. Inscriptions for MICE planners are open, click here for the invitation.
28-29 October, Brussels/Mechelen: BTExpo. This b2b workshop for Belgian travel organisers will take place on two different locations this year. On 28/10 in Jeux d’Hiver in Brussels, and on 29/10 in Lamot, Mechelen.

Zeeland Meetings & Events invites you on a famtrip on 16 May to discover the region as an incentive destination. Click here to apply.
Light festival Bright Brussels attracted 200,000 people to its opening weekend, which no less than 66% more than last year.
From March onwards, Brussels will be in geek mode, celebrating pop culture with a host of events and activities. From Comic Con Brussels to BIFFF and even the Brussels Games Festival. Fans of the genre will know what to do.
You can now order Meeting in Brugge’s new meeting and incentive guide for 2019 and read about all the latest developments and possibilities in the Venice of the North. Click here to get your copy.
Bruges received more than 8.3 million visitors in 2018, which is 900,000 more than in 2017 and 1.85 million more than in the disastrous 2016 when tourist numbers all over the country dropped after the attacks in Brussels Airport.
540,000 WOI memorial tourists visited the Belgian Westhoek in 2018. This of course mostly because of the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War.
As from 1 March 2020, public transport in Luxembourg will be completely free of charge, even for foreign commuters coming to the country for work. If you buy your ticket in Belgium, you’ll only have to pay for the trip to the Luxembourg border.
Livigno in Italy was chosen as the best ski resort of the year by the readers of In the finals it beat some of the most prestigious ski areas in Switzerland, Austria and Germany.

ACC, Association of the Belgian Communication Industry, published what they think will be the communication sector trends for 2019. Click here to read.

One third of all food produced in the world is never eaten, and food loss and waste is responsible for $940 billion in economic losses and 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions annually. Click here to find out how to reduce food waste.
Harmon House finally opened its doors to the public after a two year restoration project. This wonderful 19th century mansion in St-Gilles (Brussels) is now a 4-star boutique hotel. A new life for a historic building.
Holiday Inn Brussels Airport is reopening its summer popup Skoj Beach. The hotel garden will be transformed into a festive location with an indoor beach house with a wooden deck terrace, palm trees, beach chairs and lots of sand.
NH Collection Antwerp Centre, the first NH Collection hotel in Antwerp, will open its doors to the public in July of this year. It will have 186 rooms on eight floors and can be found right next to the Central Station.
The Ostend City Council has pulled the plug on the takeover procedure of the famous Thermae Palace Hotel. The place needs an urgent restoration, but no deal was found. Talks are now on-going with the current tenant: Restotel NV. In the best case scenario, the whole process with be finished by 2021.
C-Hotels is launching two new venues this summer. Cocoon in Ostend will open in May and C-Hotels Continental in De Panne in June.
Ron Gastrobar Indonesia Downtown is a new hotspot in Amsterdam for foodies and design lovers. The place has a colourfully urban interior and serves traditional Indonesian dishes in a contemporary and daring way. Also for events.
9Hotel Paquis in Genève is a brand new venue in the heart of the city. It comes with 56 rooms, a wellness centre with pool, an exclusive cocktail bar and lots of greenery.
Luxury Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski Munich opened its new Royal Wing. Centrepiece of the new wing is the Maximilian suite: combining ultimate luxury with the finest of artisan craftsmanship. It comes with a huge terrace located on one of the highest points in Munich’s old town.
Best Western Hotels & Resorts took over WordHotels this month, adding about 300 extra hotels and resorts to its catalogue. wrote an article on the 50 top luxury hotel openings of 2019. Wouldn’t you like to visit all fifty of them? Click here for the list.
According to hotel portal HRS, hotel rates in France grew with 4.2% last year. Paris is logically the most expensive region in France (followed by Nice) with an average stay costing €144. The national average is €125. Moscow rates grew the most (World Cup fever) while Barcelona saw its rates drop with almost 8%. Zurich is still the most expensive city for hotels in Europe, with an average of €177 per night.

Zomerfabriek is one of the coolest summer bars in Antwerp. This year, they are looking for creative locals to come up with their own event ideas. Ideas can be put forward via an open call and a jury will decide on which of them will actually happen. The winners will get financial support as well. Click here to share your idea.
Dubai is planning the construction of another futuristic skyscraper. Burj Jumeira will be 550m tall and will have a sky lounge and a restaurant in one of the top floors. The base of the building will be shaped like Mohammed bin Rashid’s (the UAE’s prime minister) fingerprint. That’s one way to leave your mark on something.
On Valentine’s Day, the Belgian capital saw the opening of the new ‘Choco Museum Brussels’. The new museum is located in the Stoofstraat, close to Manneken Pis, and offers 1.800m² of space to showcase the wonderful world of Belgian chocolate.

After a well-televised five day mega transport from Schiphol to Badhoevedorp, Corendon’s Boeing 747 finally arrived at its final resting place: the Corendon Village Hotel’s garden. There, the old plane will be turned into a 5D-experience on the history of aviation.
Alitalia will better connect Brussels with Sardinia, with flights to Cagliari, Alghero and Oblia via their Rome Fiumicino hub. The first flights will leave on 17 April.
Portuguese airlines HiFly will make all its flights from Lisbon to Brazil completely plastic free: everything from cups to cutlery will be biologically degradable. This is a world’s first.
KLM seems to have done much better financially than its sister company Air France. KLM had an operational profit of €1.1 billion, while Air France only had €266 million. Strikes and higher fuel taxes caused this lower number for Air France.

Star Clippers announced the new routes for its cruises in Europe and Asia. New harbours in Europe are Stintino, Propriano, Vis, KrK and Zadar. In South East Asia, they will sail to new places in the Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian archipelagos. For the first time ever, they will make a stop in Cambodia as well.
As from April, Oceania Cruises will replace all its one use plastic water bottles with reusable versions. To achieve this, they will cooperate with Vero Water, pioneer in water distillation systems.

Jean-Pierre Cornelis will be SITE Belgium President in 2019 and is looking for new board members and a new candidate President for 2020. Applications can be sent to
Diederik Banken became BCD Travel’s new Vice President Benelux. He used to be VP Sales EMEA at the company, but BCD is reorganising to strengthen its position in the region.
Paul Nuyens, well known in the world of cruising, will become CLIA’s (Cruise Lines International Association) new Manager for Belgium, The Netherlands and France.


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