Event Digital Solutions Europe

VIDEO: Digital tools have a place but face-to-face meetings rule - Menno Holterman

Thursday, 29 April 2021

A meaningful digital future but face-to-face remains king

For seasoned travellers, the travel bans, lockdowns and closed borders resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic may have come as quite a shock.

Being home-office bound for over a year may have provided some much needed (personal and environmental) respite from relentless travel schedules. Yet, frequent travellers are keen to get back on the road to meet customers face-to-face in safe and secure environments.

Menno Holterman is one individual who was used to spending over half of his time travelling.

Following the well-publicised SAUR acquisition of Nijhuis in June 2020 before the pandemic, the CEO of Nijhuis Saur Industries was tasked with continuing to grow the industrial water division.

Aquatech Online had a chance to sit down (virtually) with Holterman after returning from a business trip to Italy (video interview below).

“Teams and Zoom are very effective ways to exchange information. However, on the integration side, when you are reaching the final stage of negotiations with clients, it remains especially important that there is face-to-face, personal interaction and meetings,” he said.

“I’m convinced in the new normal digital tools will have a very meaningful future, but in the end, there's nothing better than a personal meeting.”

Experience in Russia

Holterman speaks about recently attending a face-to-face event in Russia, which he said was an “interesting experience”.

"Customers were there with a purpose. They wanted to know how we could help them solve demanding water challenges."

He told Aquatech Online: “The number of visitors was lower than we were expecting compared to previous editions. But in the end, those customers who came over were there with a purpose. They wanted to know how we could help them solve some of their demanding water challenges, and they were looking forward to spending time and were happy they could meet our experts in person.

“In the end, the quality of the visitors was extremely high, and the time we could spend with those important clients was perfect.”

Holterman added that they made adjustments to the booth design to accommodate social distancing and that digital tools added to the experience.

“All in all, it was a nice event. In Russia, more events have taken place than in Western Europe. We are learning and we are hoping to apply some of these learnings during the upcoming Aquatech [Amsterdam].”

Looking forward to Amsterdam

Looking ahead to Aquatech Amsterdam in November, the CEO added: “For us, Aquatech Amsterdam in combination with the Amsterdam International Water Week (AIWW), have been flagship events the last decade.

“We appreciate the RAI organising team is evaluating different options and is actively approach exhibitors to review and manage expectations. We are really looking forward to meeting our valued clients and business partners in Amsterdam to show them some of our game-changing innovations.”

Holterman discussed the role of exhibitions for the Nijhuis Saur Industries business.

“Tradeshows are very important opportunities to introduce our solutions and added-value services. They provide a valuable role, not only in terms of developing the commercial pipeline and meeting clients and enjoying the ecosystem, which we are a part of, but they’re also important milestones to introduce innovations and to be inspired by our competitors and suppliers and business partners.”

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