“Let’s get back to business!” That is all Martin Kersbergen wants. The Steam Hall (De Stoomhal) operator in Wormer cannot wait until his event venue is up and running again. But for now he will have to make do with business groups of up to thirty people which he can, luckily, still receive on a daily basis. “I would rather have something than nothing”, says the optimistic entrepreneur who has recently purchased an AIR8 air purifier. “I don’t want to leave my guests wanting for anything”, the host says. “Especially not clean air.”
Located on the Zaan, in the heart of the Zaanstreek, you can find the most beautiful warehouses. One of these impressive buildings, dating back to 1900, is the monumental ‘Hollandia’. In this building, which currently houses offices, a gym, a casino and restaurants, we can also find event venue the Steam Hall.
Can you tell us something about the history of the Steam Hall?
“This hall once housed one of the biggest steam machines, which mechanically took the outside skin off rice grains. After the first World War, when the world was reset in a way – just as it is now actually – it turned out that the rice countries had started to peel their own rice. From then on, the steam machine slowly but surely became less needed.”
“During the 50’s, a local resident bought the building intending to take it down and own a piece of land on the Zaan. Luckily the notion of historical value grew in the years that followed and the buildings were not destroyed but rather renovated. The renovated buildings slowly but surely regained a function and in the 90’s, Stichting Hollandia (the Hollandia Foundation) decided to turn the Steam Hall into an event venue.”
So what are some of the activities that take place in the Steam Hall?
“Well, currently there are not many of course as we are dealing with corona. But usually this place is brimming with energy. We host corporate events, team building events, conferences, markets, association events, expositions, seminars, political gatherings, trainings, fashion shows, weddings, meetings and of course any kind of party.”
“We have four amazing areas. The Steam Hall is suitable for groups of 20 to 230 persons. The Boiler Room has a capacity of 15 to 150 people and has direct access to the terrace. The Coal Room has a more rough ‘industrial’ look and feel and can house up to 30 people. We can also place a stage turning it into a little theatre. And then we have the Machine Room, perfectly suitable for smaller committee meetings for 4 to 12 people or 40 seats when set up for a theatre show.”
When did you get involved with the Steam Hall?
“I am a caterer, having founded Kersbergen Catering in ‘t Gooi. That has brought me to venues all around the country.”
“When, about eleven years ago, I had my first job in the Steam Hall I fell in love immediately. This venue is such a gem. After a few more catering jobs and some proper talks with Stichting Hollandia, I decided to become the main operator of the Steam Hall in addition to my catering business. And honestly, I have not regretted it for one single moment.”
“Of course last year was difficult but I cannot wait until our areas are filled with excited people again.”
What are your expectations when it comes to events this year?
“I expect we are done with the ‘guideline’ governing after the summer. Up until then it will be quiet, but after the summer I hope we can start living the roaring twenties again.”
“The first events have been booked already. Of course it is wise to book in advance because I predict there will be big rush to find event venues soon.”
“Many people who have postponed their corporate or private events will want to celebrate them later. And if it turns out we cannot host the parties after all, we can always cancel or postpone them. But I actually would rather prefer not to think about that…”
You have bought a mobile air purifier. Why?
“Naturally we also have a central ventilation and air purifying system here that functions properly.”
“But still, I bought the AIR8 air purifier, the biggest there is. It is a plug and play unit, all you have to do is plug it in. It purifies and filters the air inside. It has a six-step filter system, including a HEPA filter, which is also used on planes. This filter takes 99.97 per cent of harmful substances such as pollen, fine dust, toxic dust and pathogens out of the air.”
“It is special, I have also purchased a CO2 meter, and as soon as I turn on the AIR8, I see the CO2 levels go down. This is all the evidence I need to see it actually works.”
“The reason I purchased the air cleaner, as I call it, is that I want the best for my customers. I want them to feel safe and able to do whatever they want without having to worry about the air quality. The ventilation was always good, but now it is great!”
Will you use the air purifier as a unique selling point?
“Oh yes. I think having an air purifier can definitely help people come in. We have a great number of regulars, they do not need convincing anymore.”
“But when things open up again, I want people to know that we are serious about our business. That is why we have put up on our website that we have a six-step air purifier, and I even list in when sending quotes. I will also send out some direct mailings to highlight the fact.”
“By the way, the machine is not all we have. It is only one of the measures we have taken in order to guarantee a healthy and sustainable business. We also make sure we buy efficiently, we have solar panels on the roof and offer organic catering.”
Which other corona-proof measures have you taken?
“We have complied with all the rules from the outset. We now have a walking route and a separate entrance and exit. When entering the building, everybody has to wear a facemask, there are soap dispensers scattered throughout the building, there is plenty of signing, all the setups entail the 1.5 metre distance rule and we deep clean the building multiple times per day. We also have a fever detection system.”
“Actually, it would be better to ask what we have not done. Because now we also have the air purifier and the CO2 meter which, in addition to the CO2 levels, also measures the humidity and temperature. So in short, we do everything in our power to make sure our guests are not left wanting for anything. And we do so with the greatest passion.”