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The success recipe of the Vlaaivoorspeller

"One of the hardest things to predict was the purchase of flan for the different locations," he said.

Igor Stel, Entertrain

LIOF is helping this entrepreneur with:

a subsidy from the Innovation Project. This is part of the LimburgTourism program. Through our LimburgTourism program, we can help you take your innovative idea or process a step further and thus help your company grow. At LIOF we always do this with a view to a smarter, more sustainable and healthier Limburg. With this program we focus on entrepreneurs in the tourism & recreation sector.

About Entertrain

Igor Stel is a race entrepreneur in the entertainment industry: "I always want to make something out of nothing. So I used to really like building cabins. Was the hut finished? Then I had to build a wall around it. Or I wanted to add a tower." That urge to expand has not diminished over the years. Even now, Igor Stel is always working on the next project. In this case: the Vlaaivoorspeller. That's an algorithm that predicts how much flan is needed at different party locations. They fed the algorithm partly with the knowledge Igor gained over the past decades as an entrepreneur. 

In the photo: Mark Geurts van Kessel

Pictured: Monique Asma

LIOF and Entertrain

 

Creativity, hard work and a touch of whimsy 

The first "hut" Igor built as an entrepreneur was Entertrain. This company focuses on event organization, catering, attraction rental, party rental and the decoration of events and parties. But Igor has built quite a few towers in the meantime. Like Castle Limbricht, the Hompesche Molen, Allin-Echt and Valdeludo adventure park. Each sister establishment has a unique atmosphere. "Where Castle Limbricht is nostalgic, at Allin-Echt you'll find mostly action and adventure." Because at the end of the day, the entertainment industry is all about one thing: the experience. 

Stories make the experience

Nowhere is that experience more tangible than in Landgoed Kasteel Limbricht. In fact, in addition to being a great event venue, the castle is also a museum. "At 20 points you get to hear a story about the castle. You learn about the troops that were quartered here, about the weapons they used and about the witch hunt that raged." The banquet hall tells a very different story. For it is here that the beer for the site is brewed. 3,000 liters every 3 weeks; about 5,000 bottles a week.

The museum, like everything else Igor does, is slightly different. "We worked partly associatively. For example, we would see a hunting painting and wonder: how was prey caught in the past? That's how we came up with guns, stuffed birds and a falconer's bag." Many of the items Igor collected through Marketplace. And they still prepare the prey here according to old medieval recipes. Just last week, for example, they roasted a chicken on a spit over an open fire. "With our way of working, you get a very different museum than how a curator would put it together. You get more story, more atmosphere; more of an experience."

Pictured: Lynn Moureau

Creativity is first, hard work second. "You have to eat your potatoes first before you get pudding. That may be old-fashioned, but that's how we work. Resting only makes sense, too, if you've worked first." Igor has also been completely honest with his staff about this from day one: "It's hard work and you're certainly not going to earn the top prize in this industry either. But you are going to have a lot of fun, work in a great team and put on cool events." And the staff days are a nice bonus. Sometimes that's a helicopter ride, other times abseiling or fire breathing. 

Keep moving 

So the principle of "work hard, play hard" is not foreign to Igor's staff. So too in corona time. A time when a lot of employees in the entertainment industry sat at home dejectedly. But Igor didn't let that happen. "During the lockdown, we took exactly 2 days of rest. Then we all gathered in the estate together. There was enough space in the garden to keep our distance. On a whiteboard we wrote down what could not be done: financial returns. But also, above all, what could: make a return on social and cultural aspects on our employee satisfaction and with our marketing." How? For example, by buying up loads of flowers. People donated an amount and in the end tens of thousands of bunches reached people who could use some extra support. Think care workers, lonely elderly and disabled people. "That way we were able to make a lot of people happy. And an added benefit: more people started liking our Facebook page." 

And that was just the beginning. Through Entertrainment, they organized hikes, digital bingo, light events, concerts with dinner and après-ski huts with gourmet food. "So in the end we still achieved that financial return. AND our people stayed fit and stayed loyal to us. It was ultimately a valuable time from which we are still reaping the benefits." That combination of never sitting still, hard work, creativity, years of experience and a great team eventually yielded something else great: the Vlaaivoorspeller. 

Too much flan: does that exist?


Say Limburg, you say vlaai (flan). It is the symbol of Limburg's hospitality. And Stel naturally wanted plenty of that at his party venues. But that was something he regularly struggled with. "One of the hardest things to predict was the purchase of flan for the various venues. One minute there are big shortages, the next they are left over." With negative consequences. Like the waste of flan; a waste and not very sustainable. But also a significant cost item, missed opportunity for sales and disappointed customers. It also puts a lot of pressure on the chain. The emergency orders the baker receives must then also be delivered at short notice.

We can do better! This is how Igor came up with the idea for the dashboard: at which location do we expect how many customers, what is the flan forecast, and where is more or less staff needed? Through data inventory and analysis, it became possible to answer these questions. Available knowledge was collected and compiled. Algorithms were unleashed on this that looked for interesting connections. And so predicting flan sales and staffing levels became a piece of cake. Or at least: it became a lot easier. 

That tastes like more  

Igor, of course, is never done building. Even now, he sees opportunities to expand the dashboard further. "You can also collect other information. What type of guests are staying in our region? What kind of entertainment are they looking for in the area? How do they move in and to the region?" Answer these questions, can improve the cooperation between all the "turrets" of Entertrain, such as the B&B at Limbricht Castle, the hospitality industry and the entertainment in the adventure playground. "This way we can keep as many customers as possible within our group." 

In addition to data inventory within Entertrain's group, Igor is also toying with the idea of hooking up other parties in the industry. "The more people connect, the more interesting predictions we can make. Also, perhaps the data analysis can become a standalone product that we can use to offer other parties more insight. This way, we not only prevent the waste of flan, but it can provide a lot more for other companies."   

Photography: Ron Wiersma (www.ronwiersma.nl)

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A magazine full of inspiring stories

The LimburgTourism program has given a strong impulse to the growth and innovative power of this sector in Limburg over the past three years. In this magazine, the Morgen, you can read some of the many stories of entrepreneurs we have had the pleasure of supporting from this program.

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