Mr. Eric Van Piggelen

Travel and Tour world found the opportunity to interview Mr. Eric Van Piggelen, Chief Executive Officer BCCK. He has recently taken his responsibilities as CEO of BCCK from January 1, 2014. He joined BCCK in 2011 as Director of Operations. With an experience of over 20 years in the travel industry, Mr. Piggelen’s has made some interesting observation about the MICE industry, the BCCK and the global travel market.

TTW – BCCK is a modern convention centre, how do you plan to make BCCK more visible in the international MICE market

Mr. Piggelen : The number of international conventions in BCCK have been increasing on a yearly basis, with many referrals and repeat clients returning to BCCK. We have also successfully bid for, and secured the ICCA Conference in 2016. We are extremely pleased that this esteemed conference will be held in Kuching, and this in itself will increase the visibility of both BCCK and the state of Sarawak to the international MICE market.




TTW – With such a huge capacity and state of the art facilities what more modern and technological advances are you planning to add to BCCK.

Mr. Piggelen: We are diligently benchmarking and researching what we can do to consistently improve on our service delivery. The focus this fiscal, however, is on our staff. We need to ensure that the skill levels of our staff are comparable with the best Convention Centre’s in the world thus making your visit to BCCK a total package. Continuous skills training is needed to make specialists.



TTW: Why is the convention centre located at a distance from the main city?

Mr. Piggelen: BCCK is the visionary catalyst of the State Government of Sarawak to spur the meetings industry in Sarawak based on a green theme. Situated on the Kuching Isthmus, the green business district of Sarawak, it was designed to serve up a spacious and refreshing retreat away from the city’s hustle and bustle amid lush greenery. Being 8 km away from the city centre and close to the Kuching International Airport and with major tourist attractions located nearby, conference delegates enjoy both modernity and tranquility of a rainforest setting. The venue is now served by an extensive network of new roads and bridges, cutting down transfer time between the city centre and the Kuching International Airport to BCCK to less than twenty minutes.




TTW: What kinds of events does the convention centre normally host?

Mr. Piggelen: Conventions, plenary sessions, meetings, seminars, product launches, banquets, exhibitions, graduation ceremonies, concerts, wedding receptions, birthday parties.




TTW: How many events can be organized at the same time?

Mr. Piggelen: BCCK offers flexible functional spaces for events ranging from 5 to 5000 persons. Available space is more than 3,700 square metres. The pillarless Great Hall can accommodate up to 5,000 delegates.



TTW: Does the convention centre support its own dining facilities?

Mr. Piggelen: BCCK houses a five-star fine dining top quality restaurant managed in-house. The Raintree Restaurant offers a modern food concept of “Global Cuisine” – a combination of ethnic ingredients, the use of the classic basics of French cooking techniques and paired with Japanese food presentation skills. Our five-star cuisine encompasses International, Malay and Chinese fares.

The Great Hall can be transformed into a grand dining hall to cater to major festive celebrations. Our sheltered car park was constructed with the flexibility to transform it into an air-conditioned dining facility when required.




TTW: The shape of the convention centre is unique, what were the thoughts behind such a construction?

Mr. Piggelen: Dubbed “Jewel in the Rainforest”, the design of BCCK fulfills both function and form (Ririk leaf). BCCK is an echo of the rainforest, offering world class convention facilities and services and at the same time fulfilling a green mission. For example, rainwater can be saved as it flows from the roof’s centre to irrigate the centre’s tropical garden. The bright and airy concourse and foyer areas lend a refreshing atmosphere, thus providing a relaxing environment for guests and visitors to our Centre.



TTW: You have greater plans of expansion in the future, what will they be?

Mr. Piggelen: We are definitely exploring our options on expansion, and are also reviewing choices that are available. Focus will always be on enhancing and value adding the customer experience as a whole for our delegates. Any expansion plans need to make business sense.




TTW: How do you think BCCK compliments Kuching?

Mr. Piggelen: BCCK was built as a venue to compliment the international business in Kuching, with focus on creating employment opportunities for the local community, and to contribute to the general economic impact to the city. When we host large scale events, the entire city benefits because Hotels fill up, more air traffic comes into the city and the local restaurants and shops benefit from the knock on effect. We also see international business as a way to put both the venue and the destination on the map.




TTW: How popular is MICE tourism in Malaysia?

Mr. Piggelen: It is a segment of tourism that is slowly gaining in popularity and importance, as clearly seen by the support given by the state government, and the federal government of Malayisa. You only have to look at both the Sarawak Convention Bureau and MyCEB to see how much focus and support there is for this industry.




TTW: How do you think MICE events can be made more popular and attractive?

Mr. Piggelen: We need to focus on the total experience, for our delegates when they decide to venture to a destination. Our theme for BCCK is ‘Your Events the Borneo Way’ which depicts in my mind, a sense of adventure, deep in the Rainforest of Sarawak. We need to create that package that promises adventure and a journey into the unknown, and to actually deliver on what was promised.



TTW: Why should people hold convention in BCCK

Mr. Piggelen: The Borneo Convention Centre Kuching is a world class facility with outstanding food and service delivery but Sarawak and Kuching has so much more to offer. You will leave us with a piece of Borneo in your heart having fulfilled not only your business obligations but also experienced Borneo for what it is.



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