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TAKE5 gives you an update on the latest Meetings, Incentives and Business Travel related news. It contains short and to the point information on venues, people, happenings, lifestyle and general news that cannot wait to be told! BBT Online guarantees you 15 new ideas in just 3 minutes. Enjoy our 68th edition.
of our take5 articles are advertorial free.

On to an optimistic 2014

Rob DavidsonIn his opening statement on the EIBTM trends watch session, EIBTM industry analyst Rob Davidson said the mood of our industry has changed to one of quiet optimism. This was reflected in the vast majority of surveys used in his report.

business‘This change comes about in recognition of the fact that the move from the fragile recovery of 2012 to a more sustained upturn in the world economy of 2013 has been reflected in growing global demand for meetings, events and business travel.

Similarly almost all forecasts for 2014 indicate increasing levels of optimist and growth in these three sectors, albeit modest.’ The corporate meetings sector is recovering, the international association business is significantly growing, the incentive travel market is making a comeback, and the advanced economies are strengthening themselves while growth in emerging market economies is slowing down.

To read the full report go to

Breaking the rules on the MPI BE Conference
The key to a greener Brussels

This year’s MPI BE Conference, on 20 January in Ghent, is all about breaking rules and conventions.

Three major speakers have been announced: S.M.A.K. founder and delightfully weird celebrity Jan Hoet, trendwatcher Tom Palmaerts and consultant Mike van der Vijver. The BE Conference provides attendants with a unique opportunity to learn, get inspired and receive practical tools for their day-to-day business. ‘Sometimes, the best way to learn is to go beyond limits and set your own rules’.

You can register yourself via the site. Early bird rates are still available.

Sustainability: it’s a term you can’t avoid in the MICE business these days. That’s why the Brussels-Capital region wanted to promote a clear, recognisable label. After analysing the options, the international Green Key label was chosen as a standard.

Brussels now has Green Key certified businesses for every need and every level of requirements. The label guarantees that the product or service meets certain specifications and strict environmental standards.

For more info on the label and for a list of certified venues, click here.
Ghent’s newest meeting & congress centre

3Square Village is a brand new, state-of-the-art meeting & congress venue near Ghent. Its beautiful modern architecture in natural green surroundings comes with free underground parking facilities for 260 cars and an excellent location next to the E40 Ostend-Brussels and close to the E17 Antwerp-Kortrijk.

3Square offers eight meeting rooms from 4 to 30 people. Two big, multifunctional halls can accommodate 200 people each, and are perfect for congresses, seminars, teambuildings, events and product presentations. It has several stylish lunchrooms, private dining rooms and the 3Square Club, suited for dinners of up to 80 people.

3Square 3Square 3Square
Belgian restaurant record!
Brussels Tourism Jobs
Hof van Cleve

No less than 132 star restaurants are mentioned in the Michelin-guide 2014 for Belgium and Luxembourg. That’s an absolute record. For the first time in 100 years, more than 100 Belgian restaurants received at least one star (101 to be precise).

The same three venues still hold the top spot with three stars: De Karmeliet in Bruges, Hof van Cleve in Kruishoutem and Hertog Jan in Sint-Michiels-Brugge. Seventeen restaurants were awarded two stars. 18 new restaurants received their first star this year. As of now, Brussels has more Michelin-starred restaurants than for example Rome, Berlin and Milan. Not bad at all, if you ask us. The guide can be bought for € 19,95.

jobBrussels got its first recruitment site specifically aimed at the tourism industry. Brussels Tourism Jobs is a brand new site, supported by ACTIRIS, aimed at bringing tourism industry employers and applicants in the Brussels area into contact with each other in the most efficient way possible.

Relevant job offers can be published on the site jobcompletely free of charge. Applicants are automatically notified when a job-offer relevant to their resume is published on the site.

Employers are notified every time a new CV corresponds with the qualities mentioned in their published vacancies. is an official partner of BBT Online. They can be visited on BTExpo (11-12 December) in hall A – Booth A 33.
Say goodbye to the Flemish travel agency licence - BBT Online reports

InnovationOn 5 November, the Diamant Conference Center in Brussels hosted Site Belgium’s Meet & Lunch. The day’s topic was a polarising one. As of 1 January 2014, the Flemish travel agency licence will be officially abolished. Will this have consequences for the travel industry?

Can anyone now organise and sell travel services as they please? Why and how was this decision taken? Jos Vercruysse of Visit Flanders and the Flemish Department of Foreign Affairs was invited to explain the policy and answer some of the questions above.

Needless to say, the Q&A session turned into quite a discussion. BBT Online’s Jonathan Ramael was taking notes. Read the full article here.

Corporate event managers vs. Event Agencies – BBT Online reports

EMALast month’s EMA Society’s panel discussion at Brussels Kart pitted corporate event managers against event agency managers. Together they discussed the issues concerning the industry.

What do companies expect when consulting an event agency? What does an agency need from its clients to help make events, teambuildings or incentives work? How is the educational system preparing students for a career in the event industry?

Representing the corporate side were Philippe Halsberghe (Mobistar), Griet Langedock (Matexi) and Kristel Brants (Electrabel). The agencies were represented by Pascal Cauwelier (Fast Forward Events), Danny Brosens (Dazzle Events) and Bruno Schaubroeck (We Make You Happy). Read the full article here.

Snow-covered Swiss excellence – Destination report

Last winter, BBT Online joined a study trip to Flims Laax Falera in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. Together with nine Belgian incentive houses and PCOs, we discovered the best the Swiss Alps can offer the MICE industry: fantastic venues, original incentive opportunities, incredible natural sights and of course, a lot of skiing.

Looking for a destination this winter? Read the entire article here!

Wish we were here – Argos Hotel in Cappadocia

Recently, BBT Online took a famtrip to Turkey organised by Serap Oguszta from EventUsta A complete report will follow soon, but we couldn’t stop ourselves from already talking about the following venue.

Argos in Cappadocia, in one of Turkey’s most enchanting areas, is located on the site of an old monastery. It offers 53 rooms and suites, the biggest ones with their own private cave pools. The rooms are spread out over six beautiful mansions. Everything is furbished in a wonderfully historical style. We’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.


Real Short !!

18-19 January, Nekkerhal, Mechelen: Fiets en Wandelbeurs. The place to be for people looking for exciting/relaxing walking or biking holidays. Take a look at the programme here:
20 January, STAM, Ghent: MPI BE Conference. Interesting, a conference all about breaking the rules. It comes with a nice slogan too: ‘Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.’ – Pablo Picasso. You can register yourself via the link. Early bird rates are still available.
22-24 January, Amsterdam: MICExperience 2014. Meet Amsterdam partners like hotels, event venues, boat companies and DMCs. Various city experiences and site inspections are planned. Everything is included. Register here:
8-10 & 14-16 February, Flanders Expo, Ghent: Belgian Boat Show. A must for every boat or water lover in the country. Discover a wide range of boats and yachts, accessories, services, boating holidays and courses. If that doesn’t float your boat, we don’t know what will.
2-3 April, Carrousel du Louvre, Paris: Meedex 2014. A face-to-face meeting between the international Meeting Industry and 1,400 top French MICE organisers. Register here:
6-9 May, Bienal Pavilion Ibirapuera Park, Sao Paolo, Travelweek Sao Paolo. An annual exhibition of exclusive travel products and services, bringing travel suppliers worldwide into contact with top qualified Latin American travel specialists and Brazilian clients.

Russia will allow transit passengers from 20 countries (yes, including Belgium and The Netherlands) to stay in the country for 72 hours without a visa, if they travel with Russian airliners. This rule applies to tourists looking to visit Moscow, St-Petersburg and Kazan. Russia hopes to grow the tourism industry in these cities. Aeroflot is counting on € 700 million of extra revenue on an annual basis. Russia and the EU have been discussing abolishing the mutual visa requirements for years.
Fast Forward Events won no less than four awards on the European Best Event Awards, all for its Ristorante Del Grano for Come A Casa: a sublime open air restaurant in a grain field. Fast Forward Events won the bronze for Best Insight and Best Product Launch, silver for Best Public Event and gold for Best Use of Space.
Brussels Electronic Music New Year’s Eve: what better way to start 2014 in style? More than 80 acts and DJs on eight different locations (Fuse Club, The Egg, etc) for just one € 50 ticket! The Brussels Electronic Music New Year’s Eve Pass comes with a lot of extra’s: discounts in several fashion & concept stores, free bus rides on NYE and – why not? – even a free ticket to the Atomium.
An exclusive top location in the heart of Brussels is now temporarily available for events of all kinds. Up until mid-February, the Agora, a large space on the ground floor of Muntpunt, will transform into an intimate, enchanted winter forest. The venue is suited for receptions and walking/seated dinners for up to 400 guests. More info:
The EIBTM Meet in Flanders stand was chosen as the best booth of the fair. Designed as a place where exhibitors and visitors could meet in a characteristically welcoming and intimate atmosphere, it was sober but stylish, without the conventional visual overload of bright colours and lights.
Weird statistic of the day: 20% of winter sport enthusiasts are afraid of ski lifts. A large number of them don’t even ski because of it. To counter this, VALK, the institute for fear of flight, started its first therapeutic training for ‘ski-lift-o-phobia’ (yes, we know our science). More sessions are planned during the winter months.
Ireland is promoting tourism in various ways, and it seems to work. The 9% VAT-rate for hotels, restaurants and touristic attractions is maintained. The raise to 13.5% that was announced earlier this year was cancelled because of the increase in tourist numbers. The low VAT-rate is seen as an important factor in creating 15,000 jobs and the growing visitor numbers. Ireland also enjoys a € 0 airline travel tax and invested € 8 million in the Wild Atlantic Way, the world’s longest coastal route, with a length of more than 2,400 km. How big is Ireland again? More info via
MCI is opening six new offices, strengthening its core service in both untapped and established markets. One of these is Brussels. MCI Brussels reached an agreement with the liquidator of Congrex Holding to acquire the assets, staff and client contracts of Congrex Belgium.
Belgium made it to the 8th spot in Lonely planet’s top ten destinations for 2014. The Lonely Planet list to travellers is what the Michelin guide is for foodies. Not bad for tourism, in short.
Peru will be the host country of next year’s Vakantiesalon in Brussels. According to the organisation, Peru is an intriguing destination with much more to offer than just Machu Picchu. They communicate in a fresh and contemporary way, and will add a very appealing story to the 2014 edition of the fair.

In February 2014, Ryanair launches ten new destinations from Brussels Airport: Alicante, Barcelona, Ibiza, Lisbon, Malaga, Palma Porto, Rome, Valencia and Venice. 200 weekly flights should get an extra 1,500.000 passengers to Zaventem on an annual basis, which will create 1,500 new jobs. The news comes as a serious challenge for Brussels Airlines and other airlines operating at Brussels Airport. Fares will be higher compared to Charleroi (Brussels South Airport) but still 50% below the Brussels Airlines rates.
Regional low cost carrier HOP! (Air France-KLM) published its summer schedule for 2014. From Brussels, it offers direct flights to Nantes and Lyon, and one-stop flights to 23 other European destinations. It caters to tourists as well as business travellers.
Spanish carrier Air Europa adds a connection between Madrid and Santiago de Chile to its network. Because of the easy connections between Brussels and Madrid, this is another fine expansion of the South American network for Belgian travelers. Three flights a week leave to Chile as of 30 March 2014.
As of 1 December, Qatar Airways will execute its daily flight from Brussels to Doha with the new B787 Dreamliner. The Dreamliner offers large electronically dimmable windows, a touchscreen entertainment system full of movies and games, Wi-Fi, full spectrum LED-lighting, low cabin pressure and good air quality. Four famous chefs and a sommelier were chosen to compose a surprising menu. There are worse ways to travel, we think.

As of 20 November, The Hotel offers shoppers on the prestigious Boulevard de Waterloo in Brussels ‘Tea Time with Lovisa’. Sit back, relax and have a cup of tea or coffee with some cube cakes made by patissier Claudio Renzi. Internationally renowned artist Lovisa Burfitt illustrated a unique porcelain Villeroy & Boch tea set for the occasion. It’s tea time every day from 11am to 6pm.
Just a year after opening, Europa-Park’s fine-dining restaurant ‘Ammolite’ received its first Michelin star. The restaurant, housed in the lighthouse tower of theme hotel ‘Bell Rock’, is led by 36-year old chef Peter Hagen. Europa-Park is the world’s first amusement park home to a Michelin-starred restaurant. It’s located in Germany’s Black Forest.
For the fans: Intercontinental published a list of its five hippest hotel bars. In no apparent order, they can be found in: Intercontinental Melbourne, Intercontinental Buenos Aires, Intercontinental Mauritius, Intercontinental Kuala Lumpur and Intercontinental Beijing.
In Rotterdam, a brand new 5-star hotel was opened this month. Mainport is one of the most luxurious and modern venues of the city. It comes with a large wellness centre and all possible congress facilities.
Boutique Hotel The Pand (Bruges) received the Boutique Hotel Award for ‘Classic Elegance’ in London last month. The Boutique Hotel Awards are aimed at hotels that surprise with a personalised approach, a warm and characteristic interior or a specific feeling of style and

Ilse Meyers (33) will succeed Veerle De Boeck as secretary general of the Association of Belgian Tour Operators (ABTO). Meyers studied law and worked as a lawyer in Leuven. She started working on 2 December.
Stephen van Es, Account Manager Congresses & Business Events (Corporate) at Rotterdam Marketing, has won the MICE Personality of the Year 2013 award. The award was presented this week at the eighth edition of the MICE & Business Travel Event in Hilversum. Bringing the International Site Global Conference to Rotterdam next year played a major part in his victory.
Michel Troch is now Sales & Marketing Manager at 3Square Village, a new meeting and conference venue in the Ghent Area.
Tineke De Beck is no longer Sales Representative at The Dominican. She’s now Sales and Event Manager at Choux de Bruxelles.
Kathleen Snauwaert became the new Director of Sales at Crowne Plaza Bruges.
Amex let go of both Nele Rosschaert and Kim Steels. We wish both of them a lot of luck in securing their next function.
Carlson Wagonlit Travel is giving its Meetings & Events department a renewed Benelux structure. This comes with a couple of new functions. Kurt Bostyn was appointed as Head of M&E Benelux, and will lead the team. Kurt will report directly to Sam Versele, Commercial Director Benelux.
Yolanda Logt was appointed as Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Events Manager at ATP Events Experts. Logt has a lot of MICE Experience. She held several functions at Carlson Wagonlit Travel until 2010 and started her own meeting and events consultancy company MYLE Consultancy that same year.
TUI Holland and TUI Belgium announced they will continue business as one company, starting 1 January. Elie Bruyninckx, the current CEO of TUI Belgium, will act as CEO of this new Dutch-Belgian travel organisation. Dutch CEO Steven van der Heijden will leave TUI Holland as of 1 March 2014. The organisational structure will be worked out in the coming weeks.

Laughing is good for you. After a couple of years of driving, you’d think you know all the traffic signs. Well, don’t be too sure of that. Rental car company Sunny Cars posted a couple of very confusing (though funny) foreign signs on its blog. Check it out here!

BBT Online Club 100 welcomed the following new member last month:

If you’re interested in joining yourself, don’t hesitate any longer. You will find the conditions and the existing members behind this link Membership is linked to the person, not the company. We also created a LinkedIn group for members only.

BBT Online Club 100: the place where you meet more planners than suppliers!


Karin de Graauw – Editor-in-chief BBT Online
Rue de Toulouse 49 – 1040 Brussels – Belgium
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