Preparing for the new reality
Column by Fred van Tol

One of Royal FloraHolland’s key investment targets for 2020 is the digitisation of all transactions by the end of 2020.

With Floriday, the growers will be able to make all kinds of deals with their customers using one single platform. We are on track to succeed. More and more growers and buyers are on board and start doing business online. Digitisation not only marks a change in the way people can do business, but it certainly gives many possibilities to improve current procedures. The information can be used multiple times, and will be available in one system. The availability of stock is always accurate, and it is much easier to get in contact with a large group of buyers. And buyers can quickly source products around the globe.

But being online also leads to the need to meet more frequently offline. Unfortunately, this year there were not many occasions to meet each other due to Covid-19.

At the IPM in Essen, January 2020, we looked at the situation in China and could not imagine what would be the worldwide impact of the pandemic. For an extended period it was impossible to travel, and although countries have opened, it is currently still difficult to move. This had is impact on the fairs that are normally held around the globe. Big events like the Iftex Nairobi was first postponed and later cancelled. Also, the Trade Fair Aalsmeer will not take place this year, for the first time in the more than 20 years of existence of this international trade fair for floriculture.

It demands a different approach to meet. As Royal FloraHolland we started looking for alternative ways. Regional meetings are currently organised via digital programmes such as MS Teams, Zoom, YouTube, or specialised broadcasting software. Sometimes in combination with an interactive broadcast on location for the participants.  Where we do organise physical meetings, hygiene protocols and distancing measures are strictly adhered to and a broadcast for the digital visitor is also offered.

We expect meetings and trade fairs to take place digitally at least until January 2021. With the experience that we gained over the past months we also created a new reality. Digital and hybrid events are an added value beside the purely physical trade fairs.

How do you prepare yourself for this new reality? Being online visible for your customers but also being able to meet them and show them the possibilities of your products. Interesting times for all of us but also big opportunities for the ones that can be adept to this situation the best. I wish you all a lot of inspirations and let’s meet on- or offline.

Fred van Tol is manager of International Development  at Royal FloraHolland.