How can guest houses add to a flourishing destination and, in turn, a flourishing community?

A Travelling to Tomorrow story is not complete without focussing on the locations where the residents, businesses and tourists stay and how they can be transformed into flourishing destinations. That is why VISITFLANDERS ensured that on 12 and 13 September 2019 as part of the Travelling to Tomorrow summit in Bruges, interested parties from the hotel and guest house sector were given the opportunity to offer their ideas about the best approaches.

The outlining of three interesting initiatives – Kamping Kontakt, Tabanaa and the innovative concepts from the Accor Group, which focuses on sustainability, the neighbourhood’s sense of community and the well-being of their employees – offered a starting point for an interesting afternoon, packed full of ‘flourishing’ ideas.

Kamping Kontakt: sustainable urban camping for all

Get them when they’re young! That’s precisely what Jasmien Beullens, Jannes Hellemans and Thomas Roosen, the Kamping Kontakt team thought. They came up with the idea of creating a campsite in the heart of Leuven which is, quite literally, accessible to all. The project squarely focused on the concept of ‘sustainability’ and used as many second-hand materials as possible, outlawed plastics and installed ecological, dry toilets and rainwater showers. To complete the story, Kamping Kontakt was accessible to residents, visitors and passers-by. Everyone was welcome and, with the central table and the daily camp fire, immediately felt at home. To say that this out-of-the-box idea was a success is an understatement. The entire neighbourhood was so enthusiastic that they unanimously decided that there should be another event to follow this initial trial. Moreover, they committed to supporting Kamping Kontakt 2.0.

“Holidays can also be experienced in an easy-access, budget-friendly and environmentally-friendly manner.”

kernteam Kamping Kontakt

Tabanaa: customised care, discretion guaranteed

Peter Geurden is one of the leading lights in the Limburg hotel sector. As the driving force behind Different Hotels, he knows precisely how to spoil his customers. With years of experience in hotels, he has noticed that guests increasingly require some form of care, whether it’s older people or the disabled. But they also love to get out and about and travel with friends and family both at home and abroad. In order to provide them with a top, carefree holiday, where their needs can be met, but without being offered a ‘hospital’ environment, Peter Geurden came up with ‘Tabanaa’ (Arabic for ‘embracing’, which symbolises the welcome offered to all guests). Tabanaa aims to be a travel experience, booking and inspiration platform where travellers can find accommodation in a city/village of their choice. On the platform, they can also stipulate what sort of care they need during their break. The accommodation can then call upon external care ‘butlers’, who will discretely provide the travellers with the care they need. This allows the accommodation operator and the guest or guest’s family to forget about this aspect of the holiday and everyone can enjoy themselves to the full.

“2,200,842 people in Belgium have minor daily care needs.”

How does Tabanaa work?

  1. Guests go to and select their preferred accommodation.
  2. They then indicate their care needs.
  3. The Care Butler (Zorgbutler) then contacts the guest.
  4. Both the guests and the hotel receive a tailor-made care plan.

Accor: where employees are central

The enthusiastic, creative and inquisitive Patrick Maes works for the Accor group and manages hotels including Ibis, Novotel and Sofitel. Given the fact that the tourism sector never stands still, he has seen, implemented and managed a wide range of developments and trends during his career. With the Travelling to Tomorrow concept at the back of his mind, he and his ‘Mama Shelter’ team, one of their latest, innovative concepts, set off in search of a location in a slightly underdeveloped area of the city which was ripe for turning into a flourishing district. The Accor group also prioritises sustainability. They breathe new life into existing, old infrastructure and transform it into bustling locations where both tourists and residents are more than welcome. With a lobby, which also serves as a huge co-working space, there is something for both parties. The Accor group also focuses on the well-being and engagement of their team members. Patrick’s message? It is only by thinking in an innovative manner, outside the box and out of your comfort zone, that you will discover successful future perspectives.

During this captivating session, the core team from Kamping Kontakt, the driving force behind Different Hotels, and the man behind the Accor group demonstrated how tourism can be shaped to become a force that supports a destination as a great place to live, work, do business and visit.

Featured image © AF-Fotografie