D.A.T.E. 2018 :: THE FUTURE OF ANTWERP TOURISM
This is Antwerp hosted the fifth edition of D.A.T.E. – Discover Antwerp Through Experience, from September 27 to October 1. This special extra edition of D.A.T.E. was themed tech and innovation. Eight international innovators and creatives were asked to think about the future of This is Antwerp and Antwerp tourism.
To inspire our international guests, we asked David Dos Santos, Yellow Window, Beyond.io and Studio Dott to join our brainstorm sessions. And of course, like during every edition of D.A.T.E., we got inspired by the city itself: by cycling around town, visiting the SuperNova tech festival, art galleries and more.
On Sunday September 30, we locked ourselves up for two days to work on the actual concepts. Being extremely dedicated, everyone kept on working all day, with all the energy they had.
Up until the very last moment, 8pm, Monday October 1, everyone worked to come up with the best results. At SANBA, all participants presented their ideas for the future of This is Antwerp during the D.A.T.E. Closing Event.
Online content platform
The first idea the D.A.T.E. crew came up with, is a brand new online content platform. Every stakeholder (be it the City, a company or Antwerpians themselves) can participate on filling up the platform with their own content. This way everyone who represents the city can join forces. And all content and information will stay relevant and up to date.
Highlights, scenic routes, opening hours,… everything will be integrated into this platform.
Key to this plan is involvement. This platform shouldn’t be just something for visitors. All local companies, Antwerpians,… need to feel like they’re sharing their story. Which will result in really sincere and honest content.
To enhance the experience of all users, the platform should also be enriched by tools which enable users to experience the city in VR, AR, 360 video, time lapses and more.
Another idea was to further explore and exploit Antwerp’s DNA. The D.A.T.E. crew felt like Antwerp could embrace its strengths and icons even more. The people of Antwerp are proud of their city, but maybe a bit too modest about it. Showcasing these proud locals and letting them show visitors their version of Antwerp would be key.
Furthermore, Antwerp should focus more on real icons like the Port House by Zaha Hadid, locally brewed beers, music, fashion,...
For example: Antwerp is the second most international city in the world (over 170 nationalities!). This translates into a wide range of culinary experiences Antwerp has to offer. So instead of focusing on the typical Belgian stuff like chocolate, waffles and beer – the City of Antwerp should market this international culinary offer. Because let’s be honest: for chocolate or beer you could easily visit Brussels or Bruges as well. But if you want to taste the world and only want to travel one block, Antwerp is your go-to place.
And this goes for more than just food. Antwerp is also a city where the old and the new meet. Where tradition and innovation go hand in hand. In every part of life.
This also means that somehow the interests of the more adventurous This is Antwerp audience and those of a mainstream tourist can be the same. Different target audience, with overlapping interests. So the advice of the D.A.T.E. participants was to find a way where Visit Antwerp and This is Antwerp can collaborate more.
A whole new strategy
The third and last piece of advice our group came up with, is more a more abstract one. Stop developing products and marketing towards an audience. Instead, ask yourself what job people hire Antwerp for. “Why do people come to Antwerp, what job do they want the city to do for them?” Which, for This is Antwerp, certainly is an interesting approach. Especially since we know our audience (yes, you, dear reader) is one that likes to learn. That likes to understand the local scene and the Antwerp way of life.
This shifts the focus more to a return on investment. What is the return people get for visiting Antwerp? This approach throws away traditional tourism marketing and statistics.
Why do people come to Antwerp? For work? Then make sure they get connected with local entrepreneurs and understand the soul of Antwerp’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Is it for leisure, let’s say to visit a music festival? Offer this type of visitor a way into the local music scene, where he or she can meet artists and like-minded people. And again understand the soul of Antwerp’s musical ecosystem.
This way, both visitors and locals will benefit from travelling to Antwerp. Visitors will gain knowledge and understanding and local contacts. And locals will see their international network being expanded.
We believe it’s safe to say that after a week of brainstorming, getting inspired and thinking about the DNA of the city, some interesting thoughts were exchanged.
As it happens after every edition of D.A.T.E., we’ll stay in touch with our guests. And will continue to collaborate. So if you’re wondering if we’ll ever do anything with these suggestions? Yes, we will.
Why? Because it’s in the DNA of all Antwerpians to strive forward, to never stop innovating.
Because This is Antwerp.
We would like to thank all D.A.T.E. participants for their valuable input and being the most inspiring squad you could wish for. So thank you
LILY CHRISTENSEN :: what3words.com :: UK
AXEL STEINKUHLE :: evrbit.com :: DE
FARBOD SARAF :: twitter.com/farbodsaraf :: US
YANA CANVAS :: instagram.com/yanacanvas :: NL
CAS KETEL :: casketel.com :: NL
BJÖRN LAPAKKO :: lapakko.com :: EE
ORFEUO LIONOR :: weiplaybook.com :: NL
TOM CASSAUWERS :: tomcassauwers.com :: BE
Text by Eline Graat
Pics by Niko Caignie