“Balance and equality are the key words for more women at the top”

16 March 2020

In 2007 entrepreneurs Anouk Roohé and Judith Huisman started the company Meetingselect: the online platform for booking meeting locations and conference hotels all over the world. It turned out to be a gap in the market: Meetingselect has now outgrown its start-up phase and the company is seen as a supplier of one of the world’s largest booking platforms with which companies can book, manage and pay for all their external meetings & events directly online, wherever in the world. Meeting planners such as assistants, secretaries, managers and event managers can choose from over 245,000 conference hotels and unique meeting and event locations in more than 100 countries through 

One of the founders explains that the rapid growth of recent years has led to a turnaround in the company’s strategy. Anouk: “Three years ago, we started managing our departments more effectively based on data-driven choices. This allows us to see exactly where we are at any time; how the departments operate, what the margin is per customer type, where the opportunities lie and which markets suit us as a type of company.” The valuable data that is collected, the company reports for both itself and its customers, giving it its added value to customers and prospects. “Listening to the needs of the customer and moving along with it is our motto. This ensures that customers stay with us for a long time, they are very happy with our booking platform.”

Take risks and innovate 
Expanding the team to double in two years means that Meetingselect can realize its vision faster and more resources are available. At the same time, the management was expanded with a General Manager and CTO, which brought in additional expertise. A risk for Anouk and Judith, but this gives the entrepreneurs more space to lead the company strategically, to innovate and to be less active in the operation. “Exactly what we enjoy,” said Judith. 

Long-term growth
That this strategy has been a good move is evident from the fact that Meetingselect has qualified for the Top 250 Growth Companies for the third time. The rapid growth is part of a multi-year plan, Anouk says: “We have always set high ambitions for ourselves and the team. This means that you also have to use the resources to achieve these targets. This is one of the reasons for the growth of our staff. We have many more plans with which we can also scale even more, only there is not yet enough growth capital available to realize all these plans. “ 

Maintaining the spirit of growth stands or falls with the right personnel. Judith: “The staff who come to us now know that we are in a scale-up phase and consciously choose the dynamics. We work agile within Meetingselect and have project teams in which all departments are represented per project. As a result, each department is aware of the purpose of new projects, changes or initiatives and everyone involved contributes organization-wide ideas. Meetingselect employees are given the opportunity to prepare their own job description and present it to the MT. This has already created many new functions that the founders themselves had never thought of, from Quality Manager to an InfoSecurity Team Manager. 

More female entrepreneurs
Anouk & Judith are one of the few female founders in the list of 250 fastest-growing companies in the Netherlands. These female founders would like to see more women at the top of companies. “We don’t see ourselves as diehard feminists, but we also see that women are not treated equally. In our opinion, statements made by women that women are lazy because they want to work part-time cannot be accepted. We are an entrepreneur ourselves and at the same time both mothers of young children who should receive the right attention. Now we are lucky to have a flexible spouse at home. We believe it is important that there is good distribution at home. And yes, if that distribution is not equal financially, then the math is quickly made in every family household. This is an important precondition that is forgotten in many conversations.  

Anouk and Judith, therefore, strive for equal pay for men and women. ‘Imagine women getting paid 20% more than all men, so to speak, to compensate for the inequality of the past few years – then you will see that there will naturally be a switch and more women going for their careers with the result that men also want to be at home for a day (part) for the family. Balance and equality are keywords for more women at the top. “ 

Growth ambitions
Meetingselect has big plans for the future, the Meetingselect BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is: The Global Meeting Management Platform to book all-sized meetings real-time worldwide. As State Secretary Mona Keizer said earlier, “For every global challenge, there is a Dutch solution”. A cool statement and really something we can be proud of – the Dutch entrepreneurial mentality. 

The entrepreneurs therefore hope to ensure that this spirit can remain Dutch. “That means: banks that want to help build entrepreneurs and an economic climate in which the Dutch investment market knows how to value companies on factors and potential like the Americans do, so that more Unicorns and Zebras with Dutch DNA can graze in our beautiful landscape. 

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