With a few days left till the 12th Heat Pump Conference in the city of Rotterdam, we had as organizing committee a big challenge ahead. The possible championship of our local soccer team Feyenoord caused us some sleepless night!
Besides being an international conference destination, Rotterdam is also home to the soccer team of Feyenoord. The Sunday before the Conference, after 18 years, Feyenoord has the opportunity to win the Dutch soccer championship. If Feyenoord wins, the team will be honoured on the balcony of the Rotterdam City Hall on Monday at the Coolsingel. However they could also lose and then their long time rival from Amsterdam could become champion.
Unfortunately we know that not all football supporters are true supporters. Especially when Feyenoord will lose the match there could be an increased risk for violence in the city. We therefore advised the Conference participants not to visit the city centre and enjoy dinner in the hotel.
Luckily for us Feyenoord did win the final game and a feeling of relief came over us just a few minutes after the start of the game with the first goal
The local authorities were expecting large crowds (> 60.000 on Sunday and > 150.000 on Monday) attending this event in the city on Sunday and Monday and are taking additional measures. Our challenge was now to answer the question how to get the participants of our Conference to their hotels on Sunday and to the Conference on Monday?
The day that Feyenoord became champion the evening was full of festivities and joyful people. Going around, it looked that everybody was happy. That feeling in the city stayed for a whole week.
The first Conference workshops started at 9.30 AM in Rotterdam. Because of the official celebration (at 12 PM CET) in the city centre was already getting crowded early in the morning.
It was only from 6 AM till 8 PM CET possible to get to the Conference venue (WTC) by public transport. Car traffic was not allowed at the Coolsingel and city centre area (see our factsheet). As organisation we had developed a number of walking routes from the hotels to the Conference venue.
We were afraid that many of the participants would not be able to come in time to the workshops on the first day. Therefore we were really amazed to find the workshop rooms filled to the top. Great, this is the first success!
Due to the official celebration of the Feyenoord players at the Town Hall we could not have the Welcome Reception at the City Hall. Therefore we had to go for the Welcome Reception in the Staal Room at the conference venue World Trade
In the end I am sure that all participants had a great experience of these unforgettable two days at the start of the Conference.
I especially would like to thank Cor Kostense from the Risk Department, the City of Rotterdam, Rotterdam Partners and the Team of Congress by Design for their support in this difficult last days before the Conference.
Onno Kleefkens, Chairman NOC