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IAAPA Presents: Plopsa Station - Young Professionals Edition

Event Type: Connections
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:

  • Marketing
  • Operations
  • Leadership, 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!

Register Now


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




Coen Bertens

Coen Bertens

Founder, 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.

Steve Van den Kerkhof

Steve Van den Kerkhof 

CEO, 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.

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.


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.

We are surrounded by a world wide web of information and seemingly endless social media feed. And it seems like time is never enough to read and watch everything. How as a brand can you stand out in an environment that is ruled by short attention spans, communication noise, and distractions that do not feel like distractions. Gather around as a few experienced marketing experts from well-known venues reveal their secrets about digital marketing aimed at the younger generation.

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.


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 price?

The welcoming coffee, lunch, reception, park entrance, event badge and all events listed on the schedule are covered by the 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.