By: Stefanie van Ginderen, Sales Manager of Postillion Hotels Netherlands.
4 years ago I started at Postillion Hotels. A traditional Dutch chain with little experience on the (international) association market. At the time, this applied not only for Postillion, I also had little experience on this market and I got the opportunity to develop myself as an expert. A period with developing knowledge and gaining new, pleasant and long-term contacts started. With this a lot of patience and perseverance was needed with lots of internal lobbying. This new market introduced our internal stakeholders to looking forward many years ahead, which wasn’t required before. Even though it was hard in the beginning to imagine those years, the tide has turned!
A new era: the road to becoming an association expert.
Soon the association market proved to be a stable market where the conferences often have a scientific character without profit motive. Over the years I have learned that the association market is more difficult to access, but very approachable. In addition to commitment, personal attention, recognition and genuine interest, preparation, knowledge and a long-term vision are extremely important.
During my first participation in IMEX, I quickly understood that I was a layman. I had no idea what a bidding procedure meant and I had no knowledge of the parties involved in this procedure. During my participation I learned that names such as Local Organizing Committee and European or international Association would be in vocabulary for good. At the time, I only knew that in the beginning of the process only the destination was important and the location followed later. Now, 4 years later, I dare to say that I asked the wrong questions and did not make the most of it.
By looking first at the destination and later at the location, I knew that I, as an association expert of a location, am only interesting in a later part of the process. Through close cooperation with our partners, the Convention Bureaus, and the knowledge of the market, I know how to make a difference in the early stages. I still learn a lot every day from associations about association (specific topics). Because a lot of knowledge and experience is shared by associations, I can profile myself even better in the market. I also continue to develop through joining the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).
All in all, I don’t regret my choice for a second to specialize in the association market. It gave me a wider and deeper understanding which I was looking for and I gained a large national and international network. Although the past few years didn’t always go easy, I can now proudly call myself the association expert of Postillion Hotels Netherlands. I am really looking forward to the upcoming IMEX in Frankfurt, I’ll see you there?