28 June 2021 | Interview
An interactive indoor tourist attraction dedicated to plants and flowers, FloriWorld was set to open its doors on 11 May 2020. Then the coronavirus hit and everything changed. Nonetheless, MT members Jet Brinkman and Silvia van den Aardweg weren’t phased. “This is such a good concept. Everything is right!”
What is FloriWorld?
Jet: “An interactive indoor attraction dedicated to flowers and plants. It’s the first in the world. It’s for tourists, but it’s also a new way for the sector to showcase this important Dutch export product to international representatives. As well as being a tourist attraction, FloriWorld is an event location and restaurant. You can break out your laptop to work, or have lunch with a colleague. It’s situated in a business park for a reason. But the attraction is the principal focus.”
So, the business park and building. What can you tell us about the FloriWorld premises?
Silvia: “The FloriWorld building has a positive effect on all of Green Park Aalsmeer. It’s such a colourful building. The brightly coloured strips on the outside represent the Dutch flower fields. FloriWorld really catches your eye. The building can’t help but attract attention. Next up: the visitors!”
Well, it seems obvious why you chose Green Park Aalsmeer.
Silvia: “Yes, in terms of flowers, it all happens in Aalsmeer. It’s the heart of the floriculture sector. Royal FloraHolland’s visitor centre is just on the corner, so international visitors can easily combine going there with a visit to FloriWorld. We’re focusing on a variety of visitor types and we offer combi-tickets with a few other regional attractions, like the Flower Art Museum and other places of interest in Aalsmeer.”
Who came up with the concept for FloriWorld?
Jet: “FloriWorld was originally an idea by Waterdrinker, a green wholesaler in Aalsmeer. At a certain point though, the concept simply became too big for them alone, so it became an initiative of the entire sector. As it stands now, FloriWorld is owned by Royal FloraHolland, Bloemenbureau Holland and the Dutch Experience Group. The latter actually manages the operation; they designed FloriWorld to look this way and devised the contents. They’re the name behind the Heineken Experience and Afsluitdijk Wadden Center, so they’re certainly good at it.”
What makes FloriWorld a game changer?
Silvia: “Nothing else compares to it. It’s completely new. There’s nothing like it anywhere in the world. There are 14 experience rooms and each has a completely different character. You see real flowers and plants here, but the experience is also virtual. And it’s interesting for all ages. Children can enjoy the projections in the halls, but there’s also crafting and games to play.
Young audiences can marvel at the special effects and have some fun in the selfie spot attraction. As for adults, it’s not only visually fantastic, they can gain a lot of information and insight into flowers and plants – aspects they probably didn’t know about before. People leave here feeling happy and that makes me happy too. We don’t need to wait months to see the fruits of our labour, we see it right away: happy visitors!”
Jet: “The building is 3,000 square metres. The attraction takes up the biggest part, but FloriWorld is also an event location. There is space for meetings, workshops, presentations… but also private dining, weddings, receptions and conferences. What’s great is that a meeting can be combined with a visit to the attraction.”
Of course, the coronavirus was a major and unwelcome game changer for FloriWorld.
Silvia: “We’ve both been employed here since February 2020, working really hard in the run-up the opening on 11 May 2020. Due to the coronavirus it couldn’t happen. Instead we opened on 1 July. But so few people came, the concept couldn’t yet fulfil its potential, so we closed again on 1 November. We’ll hold a fantastic opening in 2021. And as soon as travel restrictions are lifted, buses packed with visitors will be back on our doorstep.”
Jet: “Because the number of visitors was much lower than expected, we couldn’t properly test the attraction. Although the term didn’t exist yet at the beginning of 2020, our procedures were already coronavirus-proof. Visitors buy their ticket online or at the counter via a card payment. We already worked with time slots. Everything in the attraction is controlled by RFID bracelets or touch pens. Everything is continuously cleaned and there are plenty of disinfection points.”
Silvia: “The setup here is so grand and spacious, so there’s no need for visitors to get too close to each other.”
What’s your favourite flower?
Jet: “I’ve always liked the gloriosa because of its beautiful shape.”
Silvia: “A lathyrus, because it smells so good. The biggest bunch possible, please.”