Interview for MICE and More journal

We have already introduced you on more than one occasion to the creativity of Agnum Event company specialized in MICE services in Benelux countries. It’s all about the creativity of this team, since non-trivial and customized scenarios for business travels is the credo of this dynamic collective, even if they prepare just a standard business trip.

This season Agnum Event turned his professional eye to Germany and opened a new destination for their partners in their own unusual style. That’s why we have a lot to discuss today with Tata Pomuran, the CEO and founder of Agnum Event. She will share with us the first insights as well as an expert view on the MICE potential of Germany and Benelux countries with respect to the CIS market.

— First of all, I suggest reminding our readers how does Agnum Event position itself on the MICE market? What’s the core of your work?

We actively work with Russian-speaking audience from the CIS countries, that’s our distinguishing feature.

We are not against "classics of the genre", since it’s in high demand in all times, but at the same time we are all in for following the non-tourist unbeaten tracks and always offer our customers such an alternative. Even to a trivial business trip we can add a touch of, let’s say… mysteriousness and festivity, not to mention the potential which opens while preparing an incentive trip.

We always take a proactive approach with our clients and guarantee to create for them the most comfortable conditions: the client can just trust us, relax, forget about everything and rely on our competence and love for work. That’s it, briefly.

— How, in general, do you estimate the demand on CIS MICE market for your European destinations?

There is a high demand. The Netherlands and Belgium are the leaders in this list. This season we have already increased the number of our projects by 2.5 times in comparison with last year, with which we were also very content. It’s encouraging that our customers are not afraid to experiment and confirm interesting programs for their incentive trips. It’s a pleasure for us as well to be engaged into such outstanding projects.

— What countries, cities and destinations are most in demand today? Are there quite pronounced trends?

If we are talking about the Netherlands, then Amsterdam still carries the palm of victory of all the cities with up to 70% of all the requests coming for this destination. Rotterdam is in demand as well, but far less. Also, we receive requests for trips to Utrecht and the Hague, but these are mainly business-purpose visits.

This year Belgium made a big hit. In my opinion, that happened due to tangible efforts from Convention bureau and Tourism Office of this country.

We do not sit still either, but promote all the time with enthusiasm this new promising destination. We extensively communicate with our customers, bring interesting programs to their attention, explain that Belgium is not only a transit point (there is still such a stereotype!), but also one of the most interesting authentic countries. It boasts a number of marvelous sight-seeing points, majestic castles, very beautiful nature and amazing cuisine that is especially appreciated by our Russian-speaking clients. It’s important to mention that Belgium is also a quite financially affordable country. That’s a fact confirmed as well by the feedback from our partners.

Prices for accommodation at the hotels are, frankly speaking, quite tempting. As well as the cost of all the other services. At the same time, all the vendors offer a high level of service. So, the price-quality ratio in this country is very pleasant for the budget.

The demand is distributed in the following order: Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp. These are the four main directions of interest for the CIS market. Bruges got especially popular not long ago after "In Bruges" feature film which encouraged many to see this lovely town with their own eyes.

Belgium is a compact country, smaller than the Netherlands. That’s why during our popular 4-day tour we book an accommodation in one of the cities with daily transfers to different locations. We offer our clients to visit the North Sea, for some reason everyone often forgets about it…The program ends up being very saturated, not only with excursions, but also with other activities. We pay special attention to these activities and offer unusual options for active rest. For example, Blokarting (land sailing) is a sailing across the sand in a versatile yacht or cart. Or right now we are busy organizing a hot air balloon flight for our group. We have already noticed that our clients like to fight with nature elements, so why not to make them feel good?

Luxembourg… In comparison with the Netherlands and Belgium, it is quite unpopular. However, if we are talking about the real VIP-groups, it’s definitely for Luxembourg, since what is a priori impossible in other Benelux countries, here it’s easily available and sky is the limit to the imagination! For example, there is one town in this tiny monarchy which can be totally renamed especially for your project. Here arrives your company and all the town has been renamed especially for them for one day.

We can assign to several central streets the names of the directors, who will take part in the event. And right on the country’s central square we can organize your event. Red carpets, champagne flowing like a river (since Luxembourg is famous for its champagne and wines), so it’s a true VIP destination! Even castles can be rented there, to the delight of the customers!

However, to convince our partners to go to Luxembourg is not that easy. Many people think that they will be overwhelmed by boredom in such a small country. But I can assure you that we can organize incredible incentive trips there for 3 or 4 days, totally full of activities, so that instead of boredom you will be filled up by tons of impressions! Level of service is the highest in this country, and cuisine in practically any place can only be described with one word — high.

— Let’s get back to your new destination. To you mind, what can Germany offer to CIS market from MICE attractiveness perspective?

We are still at the stage of studying the trends, collecting statistics, arranging negotiations and intensive check tours with locations and service providers. Personal inspection allows to choose the very best, the most special, something that hooks and impresses ourselves. On the way we of course “try it on" and adjust to the mentality of our customers. It’s essential to experience with all the certainty that chosen activities will be in demand. At this stage it’s an integral part of our work before "entering" the country. What we can already definitely say that Germany is more efficient for business trips (forums, exhibitions and conferences) than for incentives. It must be most interesting for large groups.

Let's say, in Benelux countries it is recommended to deal with a group of no more than 50 people to ensure high-quality service. In Germany this potential grows up to 100 guests and more. This country, with a far bigger territory, a set of interesting locations and opportunities definitely gives more space to be in for a treat at a more attractive price than in Belgium. All in all, if we compare the price offers, the countries will line up in the following descending order: Luxembourg, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. It is one more strong argument in favor of Germany for big groups. As well as another one — delicious food and enormous portions.

However, our guests go there mainly with the business purpose so far. Though we are planning to repeat in Germany our success, similar to the one the fruits of which we now reap in Belgium. For this reason, we do not discard the incentive trips in this country, since there are many perspective locations for such purposes. So, we hope to integrate all our experience into this destination.

— What cities are most interesting? For what event formats? And why?

So far Cologne, Düsseldorf, Munster, Bonn and Frankfurt are in our focus of interest. We have already opened our representative office in Munster. Over time we plan to move further to the center of the country. From communication with the local agencies it’s already obvious that Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Cologne will become the most commercially attractive destinations. Autumn agenda of these cities is full of international events. In this regard we expect an increased demand from our partners to whom we have already actively introduced our programs of this new destination.

— What MICE product in Germany can DMC Agnum offer today? In why is it so unique?

Our approach is similar to what we do in any other country where we offer DMC services. I would like to emphasize again that we do not offer trivial programs. For this very reason we do a lot of inspections. As a result, what you see in our offers you will never find in a tourist guide. You know, it is always easier to offer to the customer something which gives you drive.

We literally lay out very interesting and beautiful routes. At the same time, we invest a lot of efforts into an economic factor so that it was easy for our customer to implement the project in terms of their budget. In this respect we worked out the whole series of professional tricks.

— What other destinations and offices is Agnum planning to open in the nearest future?

For now, it’s necessary to strengthen thoroughly the positive steps that are already taken in the direction of Germany. There is a lot of work ahead.

Our company actively develops which is accompanied by the staff expansion. In the last 5.5 years we carried out an enormous number of non-standard projects, including the ones for very large international companies on the CIS market. Partners come back to us with the requests for new projects and it keeps the good word-of-mouth spreading. I think this is one of our main achievements: at first you work for the project, and then the project works for you. But we do not relax, we direct our potential to the development of new territories. Our aim is to get to know a new country as our homeland and to share with you a part of our love to it.

— What landmark events do you expect with keen interest? Why? How do you prepare for them?

It’s a very good question. We are already busy with preparations for the year 2020 which promises to get incredibly interesting. The Netherlands will host three major international events. The final of the "Eurovision-2020" and "Formula 1" on May 8-9th, and also Sail Amsterdam 2020 on August 12-16th.

A few more details about the last one, since the first two events I guess everyone knows. "Sail Amsterdam-2020" is the world's largest spectacular event in the field of shipbuilding, it takes place every five years and every time attracts more than one and a half million guests to the country.

It's perfect to plan the incentive trips on the same dates as the mentioned events. We can beautifully "to pack" into the program a participation in these unforgettable shows! But it’s time to start all the arrangements already now. Since all of these are world-scale events, there might arise certain difficulties with locations and accommodation. From our side we will do everything possible to ensure that as many of our favorite clients as possible could visit the country during this period.