Anneke Wijdogen, Director of Sales : “We aim to be a good neighbour to our long-stay guests”
Corendon’s Founder Atilay Uslu has a great passion for airplanes. At the opening of the largest hotel in the Benelux, he became inspired and decided to feature one of the largest aircrafts in the hotel’s garden. As the Corendon City Hotel Amsterdam already had a Boeing 737 cockpit suite, the plan was born!
Anneke Wijdogen-Vis, Director of Sales at Corendon Hotels & Resorts, sees the whole mission 747 as an adventure for Corendon too: “Everybody in our company was involved and the whole team experienced this as a once in a lifetime project. It was simply amazing to be part of this. “The transport of the defunct airplane happened mainly overnight, and everybody took on additional nightshifts to welcome the over 10,000 visitors. ” The huge operation which involved the aircraft crossing 16 fields and ditches and, most spectacularly, the A9 motorway, received worldwide press coverage from the front page of the Bild Zeitung in Germany, to CNN in United States and coverage in Japan and several business magazines.
The Dutch Turkish holding company Corendon which started operations in 2000 as a tour operator for the Dutch and Belgium tourist market, diversified to the airline business. “At a certain point we were not able to buy sufficient aircraft seats for the number of travellers that we had for certain destinations so we decided to manage it ourselves and set up our own airline”, she says. Five years ago, they added their Hotel & Resorts to the portfolio, including the Corendon City Hotel in Amsterdam, the Corendon Village Hotel in Badhoevedorp and The College Hotel, a boutique style hotel near the Museum Square. Business travellers in this group are on the rise.
“The 747 mission really demonstrates how we do things differently. We like to think outside of the box. We create inspiring places to meet.” As staff, we can also inject our personality into our work, I like the fact that Corendon doesn’t have a strict business format. We retain an open view of the market to ascertain what travellers’ needs are nowadays and allow ourselves the freedom to build on new projects,” says Anneke Wijdogen. “Our next project is to create a 5-D experience centre in the aircraft. This summer a section of the aircraft will be open to the public. Visitors not staying in the hotel can purchase a ticket to the aircraft for €10.”
”Every month we organize a long-stay drinks event in our hotel for all our long term guests and partners. We like to talk to them and learn from them – what do they need, what have they experienced during their stay in The Netherlands and in our apartments. We strive to be that good neighbour who picks up your parcels for you when you are out.” A larger VrijMiBoeing with neighbouring companies and the community in Badhoevedorp takes place on a weekly basis. “Our long-stay guests can mingle with the companies and inhabitants of the neighbourhood from the impressive Skybar 747 and make lasting social connections.
Corendon Hotels & Resorts’ motto is: real value feels good. The Corendon Village Hotel Amsterdam which opened its doors in June last year offers 298 apartments. The apartment complex long stay occupancy rate is now over 50 % and increasing. Wijdogen: “Our clients are often companies from neighbouring countries with project-based assignments for up to six months, such as the new Schiphol terminal staff. Relocation agencies or companies also hire the apartments for expats who have just arrived in the Netherlands and are looking for a permanent place to live. Newcomers should feel at home.”
She continues: “We are housed in the former Sony headquarter building and Sony left a legacy behind in the form of a fully functional movie theater. The theatre has been completely restored and now shows A-movies such as Bohemian Rhapsody in the evenings. Our long stay guests can get a theatre subscription, providing another opportunity to socialise.”
Dialogue is essential
The effects of Brexit are difficult to predict Wijdogen says. She is concerned about the “discouragement policy” from the Amsterdam authorities towards expats and tourism. In terms of business travel, finding suitable housing in general will become more difficult as hotel prices increase, and expats consider settling further out in the provinces. “Let’s be realistic. We need to ensure that we don’t price ourselves out of the market as a destination and be in dialogue with the City authorities and all parties involved in the Schiphol area too,” she says.
Dialogue is essential. She also believes in the value of the PCO network “to build each other up and take advantage of each other’s services and expertise.” That’s why Corendon offers business relations the opportunity to test hotels before they open or offers to host PCO meetings. “In the end, it is about connections and helping each other, for example by giving leads.”