This year’s edition of the Annual Conference and General Assembly took place at A Room with a ZOO in Antwerp (Belgium). Nothing but raving reviews and enthusiastic attendees. AIPC 2019 exceeded expectations as even president of AIPC Aloysius Arlando confirmed: “Flanders Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp is simply unique. What A Room with a ZOO. Such a refreshingly, innovating concept.“ This year’s General Assembly of AIPC exceeded expectations. With ‘Changing Expectations’ as the main theme of the conference, there could not have been a better host than A Room with a ZOO.
Anja Stas, CCO A Room with a ZOO: “We are happy that we were able to show our peers that we do not only talk the talk but we also walk the walk. A Room with a ZOO is not just a selling point, a marketing stunt. It truly is the venue that goes beyond space.“
The programme during this 61th edition of AIPC’s General Assembly was astonishing. The easy travel to the convention centre was a delightful surprise to many delegates as the venue truly is adjacent to the international railway station of Antwerp. The venue and the station are side by side. On top of that, the hotel most delegates stayed in was overlooking the venue. As travel and congresses can be taxing on one’s personal ecology, the accessibility of A Room with a ZOO is an incredible asset. During AIPC 2019 colleague venues and Associations could experience this proximity for themselves and realise that adjacent truly means neighbouring. To quote Mark Taylor from the Queen Elisabeth II Centre London who hosted AIPC last year: “I think what people really appreciated is it’s very unique location. The central location where everything is walkable to.”
Social programme infiltrated with nature
Once arrived at the venue, attendees were able to enjoy the extraordinary surroundings of the ZOO and to indulge in nature. They participated in inspiring social activities such as a morning run in the magical, sleeping ZOO, a morning Tai Chi session and a gastronomical Aquarium experience. On the first AIPC-conference day there was a solely vegetarian lunch, which the IMEX colleagues hosted. During events, it is important to reflect the venue’s sustainable policy, even in the catering. A Room with a ZOO feels it should serve as an example for the MICE industry.
The lion’s share of the sessions was held in the largest open space, the Atrium which was bathed in sunlight. The Atrium has no doors and formed a seamless transition towards the catering area where attendees held their coffee and lunch breaks overviewing the flamingo’s. This way the natural surroundings of the ZOO were infiltrated during the conference. A unique experience and an important one as we all know nature nurtures.
A lot of AIPC-delegates were not yet familiar with Antwerp as a meeting destination and many of them fell in love with the city’s magnificent railway station, architecture, food, local beers and, of course, the ZOO. Conference attendees could discover Antwerp during a city walk. They attended a Belgian beer reception and enjoyed exquisite cuisine with Belgian waffles as dessert during the Award Dinner on the evening lit Flamingo Square.
To host ones peers is a tricky endeavor. Would the unique concept of A Room with a ZOO catch on with colleagues of the meeting industry? Would it live up to the promises of its award winning campaign? The team of A Room with a ZOO had to wait and see if AIPC would live up to delegates expectations. And yes, it certainly did! Attendees were able to experience for themselves what Flanders Meeting and Convention Center Antwerp in fact truly is: A Room with a ZOO.
AIPC 2019 Aftermovie: