Dutch venue and organiser RAI Amsterdam won the Venue Team of the Year Award at the recent 30th AEO (Association of Exhibition Organisers) Excellence Awards in London.
This recognition was granted for the way the RAI met the significant challenge of transforming the traditional format of the financial industry event Money20/20 into a dynamic combination of exhibition, festival and conference. The Excellence Awards are conferred annually on businesses who make outstanding contributions to the exhibition industry.
RAI Amsterdam came out tops in the category against stiff competition from seven other nominees, including Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, ExCel London and NEC Birmingham. “The RAI demonstrates an excellent passion, creativity and innovation,” ran the jury report. “Working in close partnership with their client to create a festival format, this case study demonstrates a great example of creating a positive venue experience for visitors.”
Embracing this challenge
The innovative concept for this new format was initially devised by the organisers of Money20/20. The theme for the event had to be both unique and implemented throughout all the halls, with catering stations integrated into the event floor instead of a separate catering location in order to create an immersive experience. At the same time the event had to reflect the importance Money20/20 places on its connection with Amsterdam and the city’s finance sector.
“We embraced this challenge and successfully transformed the entire building to fit in with the event’s theme,” said RAI COO Maurits van der Sluis. “By being extra creative we helped enrich the Money20/20 concept and devise ideas to improve catering services and the overall event experience. This required leveraging on our local connections in a new way and I’m proud of how we stepped up our game to meet these demands and fully satisfy the client’s expectations.”
A good example of how this panned out in practice was the use of a ‘Too Good to Go’ catering bar, where leftovers from other food items were used to create new dishes such as soup or salad. The bar was constructed using materials from previous Money20/20 events, significantly reducing food and material waste. The RAI’s chefs also made chocolate cakes for charities using bananas that were not consumed during the event, an initiative that earned a ‘Zuidas Sustainability’ award from the Amsterdam city district in which the RAI is located.
In addition to its own catering services, the RAI reached out to its network within the Dutch capital. For instance, the Taste of Amsterdam festival – an annual event showcasing the city’s top chefs and restaurants – was also taking place at the same time as Money20/20. The RAI team worked with the festival director and local government to organise an exclusive evening for Money20/20 which was a great success.