Tighten your power pink tie, shine your shoes. Time for Provada, Holland’s biggest and swankiest real estate conference. Not for renting a cheap summer apartment with a canal view. Not for buying your EUR 240,000 dream farm house in Friesland. Wrong conference.
Provada is for the big city Dutch folks. Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Den Haag, Utrecht. Ymere? For real estate tycoons. Well-dressed city slickers pushing large scale property development, shopping malls, new residential neighborhoods, high rise business complexes, and the people who may finance your ambitious endeavors. Or not.
Flexible working space at a conference?
Provada is the biggest Dutch real estate event and although most conference goers were in full corporate gear from head to toe, the exhibitors had obviously made huge efforts to get away from stuffy, outdated, squared off office-looking spaces.
At the conference level, it can be difficult to draw people in and break down barriers between exhibitor and potential client. Trendy Provada business was being conducted on bar stools, fat chairs, tall chairs, short chairs, no chairs.
Most people were standing around in circles in open spaces and hanging around the bar areas inside the exhibits. The booths that used a flexiwork environment with a variety of seating and standing arrangements were creating or even forcing people into a more social atmosphere inside their own spaces.
In the far back corner, one booth was giving away iPads. Woohoo. I took a picture and Maarten Tromp from PropertyNL magazine asked me what I was doing. Eek. If I became a magazine subscriber for two years, I could get a free iPad.
“Our magazine costs 999 euro a year,” Tromp said and stared as the information penetrated my eardrum and started my brain calculator, but I did not blink. Maybe he said two years. Didn’t matter. No iPad for me.
Tromp explained that Provada is a business-to-business meeting and transaction point for real estate investors. I asked him what was with all the bars, was this just a trend for 2011?
“Everyone has a bar, every year, to meet, talk. We have one behind this wall.” Tromp gestured to a secretive, hidden meeting point where 10 or 40 or 0 people could have been sitting, unseen, having ‘time is money’ talks.
Although many of the booths were designed to be inviting, I didn’t feel comfortable shimmying up to any of the many bars and grabbing a fresh fruit cup or a crustless salmon sandwich. I didn’t look like an investor. Tromp was honest enough to answer my question “What is here for a normal non-investor kind of citizen?”
Instead of wasting any more of Maarten Tromp’s time, I took his advice. I looked around, bought myself a Diet Coke and a pack of Rolos (not his advice) and went home (Tromp’s advice). Before I went home, I snapped pictures of some examples of the Provada exhibits, booth and bars.
The 7 most intriguing Provada bars
1. Best Free Stuff with Secret Bar – PropertyNL
2. Cutest Bar Using Legos- Jan Snel Flexibel Bouwen
3. Most Chatty Social Bar – Wikistedia
4. Longest Lounge Bar – Amsterdam
5. Sweetest Little Bar – Wenswonen
6. Sporty Bar – Nieder Rhein
7. Quietest Stand with No Bar – Linnea (next year they will have a bar)