IAAPA Presents: Plopsa Station for Young Professionals

Event Type: Connections
Region: Europe, Middle East, Africa
Venue: In-Person
Member Price (under 35): €90 | Member Price (over 35): €105
Not-Yet-Member Price: €130
Location: Plopsa Station
Address: Mediaplein, 2018 Antwerpen, Belgium

Learn, Network, Play! IAAPA’s First In-person Event for Young Professionals

We’ve heard the news – young people are the future of our industry. That’s why we are inviting you for a day-long event specifically for young professionals. Whether you’re a young executive leading a company, a mid-level manager, or a student looking for a job in the leisure sector – make sure to register.

Attendees of IAAPA Presents: Plopsa Station for Young Professionals will get the chance to learn during four EDUSessions with industry leaders and fellow young professionals. Topics covered will include:

  • Plopsa Station History from Design to Operations
  • Guest Satisfaction and Investment
  • Marketing
  • League Industry Legends, and more.

The host venue, Plopsa Station, will offer an insightful behind-the-scenes tour revealing the in and outs of this unique attraction. There will also be plenty of opportunities to meet each other, broaden network, and have fun!

!This event is now sold out! 
Let us know if you wish to be added to the waiting list. Or consider attending the networking reception only. 


 Networking Reception

We invite established professionals interested in connecting with young talent to register for the networking reception starting at 17:00 CEST. Registration is required as capacity is limited. Networking registration ticket includes:

  • Entrance to Plopsa Station from 17:00 onwards
  • Bites & drinks
  • Rides on 'Smurfs Adventure', courtesy of our sponsor The Smurfs

Price: €30 for IAAPA members, €40 for not-yet-members.

Timing: Participants of the networking reception are welcome from 17:00 CEST through 18:30 CEST. Check-in at the entrance of Plopsa Station from 16:45 CEST.


Register For Networking Reception


 Full-Day Event Pricing

  Price (Incl. 21% Belgian VAT)
IAAPA Young Professional Member 90€
IAAPA Member not Young Professional 105€




Coen Bertens

Coen Bertens

Coen Bertens Consultancy

Coen Bertens worked at Efteling for 23 years, of which the last 7 years in Board of Directors.

As Director Themepark he was responsable for maintenance, operations and commerce. In total 2,300 employees.

Since 2014, the attendance has increased from 4.4 million to 5.2 million visitors a year. By increasing capacity, in new and excisting rides, the average waiting time decreased by 7%.

In addition, Efteling was voted the number 1 Customer-Friendly Company in the Netherlands by consumers in 2019.

Dr. Pieter Cornelis headshot

Dr. Pieter Cornelis

Senior Lecturer
Fontys Academny for Creative Industries

Dr. Pieter C.M. Cornelis is senior lecturer at Fontys Academy for Creative Industries and project strategy director at Jora Vision. He is a published author and consultant on theme park investments and -experiences. Pieter has held management and board positions at a number of major European theme parks including de Efteling and Toverland. He has always combined a perseverance in theory with a pragmatic approach in theme park practice, which has resulted in many accountable projects over the last years. The subject of his most recent scientific research is the causal relation between dark ride experiences and dark ride memories, and the impact of these memories on theme park (re)visits.

Elien Goethals headshot

Elien Goethals

University of Ghent

Elien Goethals is a jurist and has an M.A in communication sciences. She works as a content marketing associate at Hannibal Advertising. One aspect of her communication oriented thesis included research regarding influencer marketing components for theme parks and zoos. This focus on theme parks and zoos relates to her enthusiasm for entertainment and leisure. Many theme park visits added insights to her initial interest. This enthusiasm and subsequent professional commitment was sparked at the age of sixteen when Elien was given the opportunity to write and direct her own musical.Ever since, she has endeavored to channel her enthusiasm into further creativity and diverse contributions to the leisure and entertainment sector.

Glenn Homburg

Glenn Homburg, ICAP

Social Media Manager Hotel & Gastro

Glenn Homburg is currently a social media manager at Europa-Park. Before he he held a position of Marketing Manager at Phantasialand. During IAAPA Presents: Plopsa Station - Young Professionals Edition Glenn will act as a moderator and master of ceremony.

Alexander Mierzwa headshot

Alexander Mierzwa

Marketeer Deutschland

Alexander Mierzwa has studied Communications and Media Sciences at University of Bonn. Since 2017 he is working in the German Marketing & Sales-Team of Efteling, located in Euskirchen, Germany. Starting with an online marketing focus and working closely with a media agency at the beginning he soon took the chance to broaden his work field and became Marketing Manager. Since then he is responsible for all marketing activities on the German market, including budget supervisory and media buying. With the pandemic hitting the industry hard, Efteling took the chance to even more focus on close international teamwork. As a result, Efteling decided to bring the international Marketing & Sales colleagues together in one team with one clear focus: to realize the growth of the Efteling, above all in the foreign markets.

Steve Van den Kerkhof

Steve van den Kerkhof 

Plopsa Group

Steve van den Kerkhof has been the driving force behind the success of the Plopsa parks for 20 years. Under his leadership, the group has grown from a one-day destination at one location (Plopsaland De Panne) to a group that now has six enchanting theme parks and two decorated water parks. Thanks to the many plans already in development or on the table, this number will also grow to as many as 11 theme parks, 4 water parks and 4 accommodation facilities (hotels/campsites) in the near future. One of his main philosophies is that offering a quality product will become even more important, as leisure time is becoming more and more precious to most families. Moreover, Steve has also been one of the pushing forces behind Begloparks, the umbrella organisation in which the interests of the main Belgian theme parks are discussed, for many years. In 2014, Steve was a guest speaker at the Leadership Breakfast of the IAAPA Expo Europe in Amsterdam. In 2016, Steve was the first European to be a keynote speaker at the General Managers and Owners' Breakfast of the IAAPA Expo in Orlando, FL.


During the first seminar we will dive back in time to the origins of Plopsa Station. Discover how this unique attraction came about and what the decision-making process was behind the acquisition by the Plopsa Group. Finally, you will learn at first-hand how Plopsa has implemented its operational best practices in this new location and how operations have evolved so far.

During this seminar you will learn how European theme parks performed during the COVID-19 pandemic and what this means for their (near) future. The importance of investments will be explained with emphasis on the role of guest satisfaction as the corner stone for high Returns on Investments. What are the most important dimensions of guest satisfaction and how can you manage these? 

Being surrounded by endless web and social media content it seems there is never enough time to read and watch everything. How can brands stand out in this short attention span and communication noise environment? Learn from experienced marketing experts from well-known venues. Marketing EDUSession will be divided into two sections:

Session 1: Influencers

Was it paid influencer content or not? Can undisclosed influencer campaign get into legal trouble? Use of influencer marketing is increasing worldwide also amongst theme parks and zoos according to the recent research. But with more frequent influencer storytelling comes uncertainty about how to label sponsored content and legislation in this area. Join us to learn about importance and usefulness of influencer marketing, strategies behind this marketing tool, and legislation on the transparency of sponsored content

Session2: Efteling marketing strategy in Germany

With pandemic hitting the industry hard, Efteling took the chance to focus even more on close international teamwork. As a result, Efteling decided to bring the international Marketing & Sales colleagues together in one team with one clear focus: to realise the growth of the Efteling, above all in the foreign markets.

Throughout the last couple of years, leadership has taken on a new meaning. The two leaders you’ll meet during this seminar are ready to share how they have gained a competitive advantage during these dynamic times and answer the questions you have for them. Hear how you as a Young Professional can set yourself up for success as a future leader of the industry.


What is IAAPA Presents: Plopsa Station - Young Professionals Edition?

IAAPA Presents: Plopsa Station - Young Professionals Edition is a full-day event taking place at Plopsa Station in Antwerp in Belgium. It is aimed at Young Professional and Students interested in the attractions sector, and consists of education sessions, behind-the-scenes tour, and networking reception.

What is a networking reception?

Reception will take place as the closing part of a full-day event between 17:00 CEST through 18:30 CEST. It can be attended as part of the IAAPA Presents: Plopsa Station - Young Professionals Edition event or separately. If you decide to attend the reception only, a separate registration and ticket is required.

How do I get to Plopsa Station?

Plopsa Station is located in the south end of the Central Station building of Antwerp, Belgium. Venue address: Mediaplein, 2018 Antwerpen.

By Plane/Train
Antwerp Central Station is serviced by direct trains from Schiphol, Charles de Gaulle Airport and Brussels Airport. Travellers landing in Charleroi Airport can reach the station with only one transfer. Most major cities in Belgium have a good connection to the station, including Brussels, Ghent, Hasselt, Charleroi and Leuven.

If you are coming from the Netherlands, you can reach Antwerp Central Station through Breda, which has a direct connection. Decent connections With Lille (France) and Aachen (Germany) also exist.

By car
Cars can be parked at the venue, but parking can be pricey in the city centre of Antwerp, where the venue is located, has a low emission zone and your car might not be allowed in the city centre.

Advised is to park your car at a P&R and taking the tram for the final 15 to 25 minutes of your journey. These are widely available coming from:

  • The North: P&R Merksem, service to Plopsa Station with Tram 2 & Tram 3
  • The East: P&R Wommelgem, service to Plopsa Station with Tram 8
  • The South: P&R Olympiade, service to Plopsa Station with Tram 6
  • The West: P&R Linkeroever, service to Plopsa Station with trams 3, 5, 9 & 15

All these P&R locations fall outside the low emission zone. Parking at these P&R locations is free the first 12 hours. 

What is included in the full-day event price?

The welcoming coffee, lunch, reception, park entrance, event badge and all events listed on the schedule are covered by the full-day event ticket price. Parking, public transport tickets to get to the venue and overnight stays are not covered.

What if I have an annual pass/valid ticket for Plopsa Station?

You can let us know through the registration form. A €10 discount will be applied to your invoice.

Where can I stay overnight if I don't get home?

Antwerp has plenty of hotels and hostels. An Ibis Budget can be found on the Lange Kievitstraat, right next to Plopsa Station.

What if I want to extend my stay over the weekend and see more nearby attractions?

Antwerp has good public transport connections to Plopsaland de Panne, Walibi Belgium & Bobbejaanland. Efteling is close by as well. Please note that the big Belgian parks will have started their Halloween season by this weekend. Chances are that other attendees will have a similar interest in visiting a nearby attraction over the weekend: feel free to join our Slack Channel and arrange meet-ups. Connect with Ignace at [email protected] if you are not yet part of the Slack Channel.

Is there a registration and payment deadline?

Registration is open until Sept. 28. There is a set max capacity of attendees. Registrations are only valid if payment is received within two weeks of the registration date. If this is not the case, your place might be given away to someone on the waiting list. Cancellation is possible until Sept. 27. From Sept. 28 a partial refund can be given. Cancellation requests can be sent to [email protected].  

What should I wear?

Whatever you feel most comfortable in. Based on previous Young Professionals receptions, most attendees dress business casual. Keep in mind that weather can be unpredictable in Belgium in October: cold, hot, rainy, dark.

What language will the event be conducted in?

All presentations will be given in English.

Why is my question not listed here?

Connect with Ignace at [email protected] in case you have any additional questions.