Meeting planners in search of an international destination are often looking for contradictory criteria: Dependable infrastructure, the latest innovations at meeting venues, but enough history and culture to reward attendees who make the trip with striking art and architecture and incentive-worthy lodging.
The Netherlands offers two cities that have turned these contradictions into a complementary package. Both cities have strong visual personalities. The Hague, with its palaces and cobbled streets, resembles a fairytale picture book; Rotterdam has thoughtfully integrated the work of celebrity architects like MVRDV and Rem Koolhaas into the city center so that the few structures that survived the Luftwaffe assault in May 1940 are a beautiful counterpoint to extraordinary 21st century landmarks such as the Market Hall and Cube Houses. The Erasmus Bridge, named for the Renaissance humanist who was born in Rotterdam, connects the city on both sides of the River Maas, and its giant sail shape evokes the city’s heritage as the largest port in Europe.
Infrastructure in the Netherlands rivals any country in the world. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol was ranked number one in Europe for direct connectivity in 2017, so almost all international attendees should find direct flights. Both Rotterdam and The Hague are accessible by rail from Schiphol Airport; express trains take 20 minutes to Rotterdam and 29 minutes to The Hague. The train station is inside the airport, making it a quicker, cheaper, and more convenient alternative to a taxi. Eurostar routes to the Netherlands opened this year, with direct trains from London to Rotterdam taking three hours. Both Rotterdam and The Hague have tram services around town but since distances are short and there are no hills, most people find the easiest way is to walk or bike. That’s a bonus for meeting planners: Offsite evening events are likely to be well-attended since most venues are a short walk from each other and the city center hotels; there is no need to wait in long taxi lines. If your attendees do want to order an Uber, perhaps for a trip to the beach three miles outside The Hague, the average phone Internet speeds are a third faster in the Netherlands than the U.S., according to a recent Akamai study.
The Netherlands has the highest proportion of proficient English-as-a-second-language speakers in Europe, so there are no language barriers in shops and restaurants. Many signs are in both English and Dutch, and imported television shows are not typically dubbed so your attendees will find that many Dutch people are probably binge-watching the same shows they are.
View a gallery of hotels and meeting venues in The Hague.
View a gallery of hotels and meeting venues in Rotterdam.