‘The lace’ of Dutch mice-business

Interview with Tata Pomuran, the founder of AGNUM EVENT

- Tata, why did you choose Benelux destination for business? These countries are located in Schengen area and aren’t cheap…
- In fact, when we just started four years ago amid the crisis with panic reigning in the industry, everyone told us: “Why the Netherlands, why Belgium? No, we won’t go any further than CIS”. Before that, I spent the whole year in the Netherlands and totally fell in love with it, though earlier I had travelled all over Europe and had seen a lot to compare with. It’s not just about these Dutch bucolic towns and landscape design of each square meter, but also the atmosphere. People here enjoy their life to the fullest, while work efficiency is measured not by tiredness, but by a good mood. Actually, the Netherlands is one of the safest countries in Europe. In a country, where coffee shops are legalized, the prisons are being closed. Next to that, Dutch people are very hard working and they continuously develop the production, especially the innovative one. They also welcome very warmly all our guests from the CIS countries, probably because they know very well how grand is the scale of all our events. I realized that this is a perfect blend for business tourism.

- Who was your first client?
- The guests at my wedding! We decided with my husband to rent a dining hall for our celebration in one of the castles near Amsterdam. Many guests arrived to our wedding and I managed not only to organize everything properly, but also considerably cut down on expenses. That was the time when I realized that I could set up my own DMC-company here. For 10 years before that I had been working in a large corporation where I was in charge of events with up to a thousand attendants.

-What about today’s clients? What do they expect from you and what country from the Benelux area do they prefer?
- The Netherlands, of course. Also, our office is based in Amsterdam. The specifics of our work is that most of our clients have already been to the Netherlands either as tourists or for business. There is a continuous stream of forums, congresses and exhibitions taking place all over the country, but the lion’s share of them are held in the capital. Probably, that’s why for most people from CIS this country is particularly associated with Amsterdam. We work with Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia, Georgia and Kazakhstan. And everyone tells us, “yeah, of course we know it all – during the day you see the canals and visit the museums and in the evening you go to the red-light district and coffee shops. Is there really anything else to do here?” So, our task is to show them this “something else”. To let people discover this enormous, unknown destination that can’t be even closely compared to the geographical size of tiny Holland! Schiphol is just about to be recognized as the most ecologically clean European airport – and we meet our guests at the airport with elite Tesla electric cars. Dutch people are famous sailors in past – and we take our guests to the islands (about which no one has ever heard before!) for kayaking and sail karting over the dunes. Or we sail on a fish-boat to Wadden Sea and pass the beaches on which not people enjoy the sunshine and rest…but seals!  Brutal racer Gerard de Rooy doesn’t have mercy neither on himself nor on his car at the Dakar Rally – and we as well offer quite a funny crash-test by smashing the car with a hammer or a baseball bat while, of course, being equipped with protective ammunition and helmet. Then we invite our guests to make a lap in a Porsche, Ferrari or Lamborghini sport super car around a circuit. We also closely work with the neighboring Belgium that up until recently hasn’t been a very popular MICE-destination among CIS countries. Our client can probably only know about the dormant piece of the past – Bruges (thanks to the Martin McDonagh’s movie) and chocolate. However, hardly anyone knows that in Belgium there are far more Michelin restaurants than in the Netherlands. Last year we organized an amazing tour there for a high-level delegation that included a real falconry, archery and crossbow shooting under the instruction of the oldest royal guild in Ghent and a gala dinner in a medieval Belgian castle. This was a new Belgium for our guests and it will stay in their memories for a long time, just as any bright and surprising emotions do. To surprise and fascinate, to break the stereotypes and discover new sides of the oldest European countries – that’s our motto.

- Do you have the most favorite route or business case?
- The most favorite is the one on which we work now! We actively introduce innovative programs. For instance, just recently we have implemented a new mobile application developed by our Israeli partners. It’s an electronic tour guide that doesn’t require Internet connection. We download it for free for our clients directly on their mobile phones and, as soon as they have some free time, they can choose the route and explore the city by moving from one point to another marked on the route. For now it’s only an Amsterdam tour, but very soon all the interesting cities and country regions will be added to the app. All these routes are perhaps the only repetitive activity we offer. None of our four components of MICE includes “cases” in the usual sense of this word. If in a tender request our client asks us to offer a tour, let’s say, for 4 days, we will almost always prepare 8 options, suggesting two possible scenarios for each day. During all these four years of our work we have never repeated ourselves. You know, it’s like a hand-made Dutch lace: the style seems to be the same, but all the patterns are different.