As a cyclist in Flanders, even the policemen are smiling at you
Author, professor, educator, speaker, and cyclist Jamie Anderson is the driving force behind the Flandrien Hotel, a newly opened boutique hotel geared towards serving people passionate about cycling. Although perhaps the word “hotel” is a bit too narrow, because the Flandrien Hotel is also an art gallery and seminar centre, providing education and business training. Jamie explains where this diversity originates.
“There is an entire market out there for things related to cycling. We’re not just talking about bicycles and equipment, but also about new technological products like indoor trainers, software, and platforms. We’re also seeing the growth of e-sports and indoor cycling, of lifestyle brands, merchandising, and even bike art. And let’s not forget another key aspect of cycling, which is experience: cyclo tours and cycling holidays.
So, there’s a whole spectrum of cycling-related products and services. This market is increasing exponentially across countries, and the business will continue to grow and expand. But there are no real institutions or schools in the world addressing the needs of people who want to work in those businesses. We think that there’s a need to do something specifically for people in this field.
Take the hospitality industry, for example: there are world-renowned hotel management schools in Switzerland. Or if you want to work in economics, you go to the London School of Economics. If you want to be a great engineer, then you might go to one of the “grandes écoles” in France.
But there is no institute that is renowned for training people in the business of cycling. That’s what we want to do with our Flandrien Institute here at the Flandrien Hotel.
The Flandrien philosophy
“There are many parallels between business, entrepreneurship, and cycling, not least perseverance. Before I became a business school professor, I raced at the elite level in Australia. A big part of my success, in my studies and later in my career, was based on what I learned as an athlete. You must be very disciplined with your time and set goals for yourself. You need resilience, because you get knocked down and you have to pick yourself up again. And actually, if you look at the academic research, there’s a well-established understanding that many people who spend time as an athlete go on to be highly successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople. In fact, the first programme we launched is the Flandrien Leadership Programme. What we’re doing is explicitly related to the Flandrien philosophy. A Flandrien is someone who sees adversity as an opportunity and a challenge, just like an entrepreneur. You are acting in a very dynamic environment, so you have to think quickly, but you should also strategize and anticipate.”
And not only that, if we know that one of our visitors is, say, a Fabian Cancellara fan, the guest can take the bike out for a ride. Because what we want to have is not a museum that is sterile, but a collection of amazing objects that can be touched, ridden and experienced.”
Cycling is in the DNA
For Jamie Anderson, there is no better place for a conference on cycling than Flanders.
“The biggest joy I get as a foreigner racing in Belgium is passing through a small town. There, you experience what cycling means in Flanders. You have the old ladies, sitting on the street with a blanket on their legs, you have the old guys who are volunteering on every corner with the flags. Even the police officers are smiling at you. That’s really the ethos of cycling in Flanders. Everyone respects the sport, feels a connection and even an involvement with it. From a five-year-old child to an 80-year-old grandmother. Cycling is in the genes of the Flemish people. You just feel that. When you are out on the road people wave at you, they cheer you on when you’re on the Muur van Geraardsbergen… They encourage you, even if you’re just an amateur. That’s great.”
Contact Gemmeke De Jongh for more information about your conference in this domain in Flanders
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