Exhibition World Issue 5 - 2018 - Page 55

Leading View RAI man COO of RAI Amsterdam, Maurits van de Sluis, explains the venue’s new strategy, two years in the making - Interview by Paul Colston I met Maurits van der Sluis at RAI Amsterdam’s South Beach, just as the venue was hosting the AIDS2018 world congress, an event that showed off the full power of this flagship exhibition space. The new board is keen for the RAI to become more than just an organiser or venue, but a broad platform for contacts, knowledge and innovation for a new age. I asked van der Sluis how this strategy is unfolding. The concept is also connected with sustainability. The practice of having all these trucks in our cities is going to end at some point, after all. The RAI was in good shape when we took over from Hans Bakker [Van der Sluis is COO to Paul Riemens CEO -ed] We could have continued with the way things were going well but we wanted to do more. The world is changing faster than everyone thinks, so we have to be even more innovative. Within our industry, we are on the innovative side, but if we compare ourselves to other disruptive companies, we could learn a lot. We needed to accelerate, so we changed a lot of the internal structure and culture in the RAI. What about the organising side of the business. What is new? We are working on three new shows. One is on drones, which is going to happen in November. The model here is that we won’t organise our own drone show as such – but provide the platform for ‘Amsterdam drone week’. Another launch is ‘Day in the city’, where visitors will spend half a day in the RAI and half a day visiting one of our exhibitors’ businesses in the city. We have other themes, such as water, and our big Aquatec event, for which we create a lot of content. The business is becoming increasingly data driven, of course. Can you give some examples? We integrated the organiser part and the facilitator part. The RAI is really one company now. It used to be like two different companies not really talking to each other. We want to give people responsibility on all levels and have a more open culture based on w w w.exhibitionworld.co.uk What of the new Metro line link? The new line is an extra, and is great, but the public transport system here was already good. We have two stations in front of the RAI. If you do want an alternative there are always bikes. It all makes for a very accessible place. collaboration. People who know about innovation should be given their heads. We are also working with the University of Delft - a whole faculty - and partners on a new system of logistics. We have all these trucks coming in to our venue, so we are looking at a revolutionary approach for a new central loading area. The plans are still in the research phase, but it is a revolutionary idea. Let us remember, the way we build up and break down exhibitions in Europe hasn’t changed since 1972, so there’s a lot of room for improvement. The way we build up and break down exhibitions in Europe hasn’t changed since 1972 What about the next stage of development? Our new hotel will be ready by the end of 2019 and it’s going to be a nHow, the disruptive brand of NH. Amsterdam’s hotel situation has changed dramatically over 20 years. Issue 5 2018 53