Home NEWS Good results – better plans for RAI Amsterdam

Good results – better plans for RAI Amsterdam

With a turnover of €120.2 million and operating results of €9.4 million, RAI Amsterdam had a positive 2016 in which over 1.5 million visitors visited some 477 events. In addition, the appointment of Paul Riemens (CEO) and Maurits van der Sluis (COO) launched a new approach and organisational structure. The new Executive Board is focused on further increasing international business, enhancing the connections with Amsterdam and the local neighbourhood, and building on the RAI’s innovative strength: ‘The RAI is going to reinvent itself.’

The operating results of RAI Amsterdam in 2016 totalled €9.4 million, or 7.9 per cent of the turnover (2015: €8.9 million, 7.1 per cent of the turnover). The EBITDA was 24.4, while the net result amounted to €5.0 million. Although these figures are not as high as the exceptional year of 2014, they were considerably higher than other years in the past decade. The turnover remained stable at €120.2 million.

New international events

In addition to organising and facilitating 52 international and 34 national exhibitions and conferences in the convention centre in Amsterdam in the reporting year, RAI Amsterdam purchased the American boatbuilding exhibition IBEX (to supplement its own exhibition title METSTRADE). It also organised two new spin offs of its own brands Aquatech and Intertraffic in Mexico.

“Business-wise, the focus of the RAI will remain international,”
says CEO Paul Riemens. “International business visitors with brief, multi-day stays benefit the city and region. By attending an exhibition or conference during the day, they keep the city balanced while also contributing substantially to the local economy.” Ecorys research shows that RAI Amsterdam contributes half a billion euros and generates 7,000 jobs a year in Greater Amsterdam.

Enhancing innovative strength

The strategy of the RAI continues to be aimed at enhancing the ‘value of encounters’ with an increased emphasis on innovation. Riemens: “We are doing very well, with impressive financial figures, high scores for customer satisfaction, and solid business prospects. Nonetheless, the world around us is changing rapidly and I want to prepare the RAI for transition. Technological developments are leading to new opportunities and insights. We believe that physical meetings will continue to be the most intensive and valuable type of communication, but online varieties which enable encounters and their impact on exhibition and conference communities throughout the year are changing. I believe the RAI should leverage on this trend even more and embrace innovations.”

“By using data, indoor navigation and other connectivity solutions in a smarter way, we can help the RAI’s clients and guests increase their return from an exhibition visit or conference attendance. Although square metres will remain important, in the long term I think that we can benefit from other value and revenue models too.”

A symbolic representation of these developments is the ‘InspirationLab’, which has had a prominent position on the premises in front of the RAI complex since April. Here, knowledge institutes, start-ups, partners and clients of the RAI are challenged to develop new products and services by sharing knowledge and insights. In turn, this allows the RAI to enhance and increase the value and quality of its services. Riemens: “We include the InnovationLab in many of our exhibitions, which allows us to take exhibitor innovations outside. On the other hand, our ‘InspirationLab’ aims to bring outside innovations into the RAI.”

Connecting with the neighbourhood

The RAI’s central location makes it unique among convention centres in Europe and is much appreciated by (international) clients and guests. At the same time, the RAI realises that it also has consequences for the surrounding areas. Riemens: “By entering into a dialogue with our neighbours we are looking for ways in which our facilities can contribute to the wellbeing of the Amsterdam South district. I am pleased with the variety of sports classes and workout sessions held on our premises in the evenings, which bring a whole new dynamic to the RAI.”

In this framework, the RAI will explicitly be looking for new activities on the periphery of the complex. “We would like to build on recent successes such as the newly renovated Strandzuid city beach, the Roast Room restaurant and the new Sixt car rental branch with new initiatives which add value for clients and local residents alike.”

Hotel construction started & Prospects for 2017

The year 2016 saw two milestones in terms of the real estate at the RAI. The new multifunctional parking garage was opened in September, and the construction of the new Amsterdam RAI hotel started one month later. This 650-room convention hotel is slated to open in mid-2019.

Despite the cancellation of the AutoRAI and BedrijfsautoRAI trade shows in 2017, the financial prospects for this year remain moderately positive, although the (very) good results of recent years will be out of reach. The order portfolio for 2018 and thereafter is well-filled, however.

A long-time meetings industry addict, Gorazd is the Founder and owner of marketing and event agency Toleranca Marketing. He has many years of experience in planning, preparing and carrying out large international meetings and exhibitions. As the founder of the "Power to the Meetings" methodology, he still firmly believes in the power of live events and human to human communication. He is also the author of numerous articles and editor-in-chief of the meetings industry magazine Kongres Magazine.