“Leisure Business Days’ conference and exhibition a great success

The inaugural “Leisure Business Days’ conference and exhibition was held just before Christmas at the Evenementenhal in Venray, located in the east of the Netherlands. Organised by Jean-Paul Haenen, Principal of KWAN Leisure , this three-day event opened on Tuesday 8th December and ran through to Thursday 10th and brought together a range of Dutch and International speakers tackling a wide-ranging conference programme supported by an exhibition showcasing suppliers from Holland and Germany.

The first day was dedicated to KWAN Leisure’s own “Leisure Factory of Inspiration’ an afternoon designed to share ideas, inspire delegates and to encourage discussion of trends and concepts. Co-ordinated by Jean-Paul, speakers included head of Maximus Studios, Melany Maximus on interactive attractions and Asko Alanen, Creative Director of Lappset Creative, speaking on Interactive Play.

A high point for me was the evening event, a VIP gathering of sector experts with dinner and a series of presentations on the subject of Management & Financing of attractions. Marcel Gritter of Adcorporate shared his experience of financing and managing the acquisition of attractions on behalf of clients. I then had the pleasure of delivering the main address of the night (above): “Management of the development of attractions’ where I highlighted the importance of designing and developing for the specific market and culture in which the attraction will be located and of taking proper account of the operational requirements of the attraction in order to help to ensure that it is a sustainable commercial success.

The next morning gave us an opportunity to travel south to visit the LeisureDome , located next to the FC Roda Stadium in Kerkade in the Limburg region. The LeisureDome is one of the most successful indoor mixed leisure developments in Holland and includes JT Bioscopen Multiplex Cinema, Indoor “Soccer Arena’, Glowgolf, LaserGame, DartelDome softplay, Bowlo bowling and a great range of F&B outlets.

Returning to Venray, the final session focussed on Leisure and Retail and featured an outstanding line up of guest speakers, including retail expert Melanie Simons of Imagic Concepts on themed retail in leisure, Asko Alanen (below) detailing Lappsett’s Kidscaf concept, designed to fit into high street or shopping mall locations, and Tanya Griffiths, of Kay Elliott Architects sharing her extensive experience of designing Leisure Attractions and developing them in a retail environment. With Jean-Paul Haenen sharing details of a fascinating study that KWAN Leisure had undertaken examining the impact of leisure on retail destinations, rounding off the day, this was a highly successful debut for Leisure Business Days.

In 2016, it is planned to bring the event forward to October and to expand the exhibition, adding exhibitors from the UK, Belgium and France and also from China where KWAN have now established a bridgehead.