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Interview with Robert Stelling: “Interclean – the most anticipated cleaning  event ever!” 

Unique for Internewx, Robert Stelling, the Director of Interclean show says: “Reconnecting the industry, and show the world the developments that accelerated change in the cleaning industry, and the challenges that we have overcome. It is going to be the most anticipated event ever!” .

We will discuss innovation technologies and new ideas of Interclean team. We will tell about about new projects of the most anticipated Interclean show Amsterdam, which will be held in May 2022. Hackaton Challenge, Interclean Stage? From this interview with Robert you will find out about new events and many others like Facility Inspiration event, Robot Arena and more.

Robert, what were your first steps in the cleaning industry? Please tell us your story about your business acquaintance with Interclean and how you started to work at Interclean.

My first steps into the industry came about in 2012, in the old fashioned way: by responding to a job opening for an ”Exhibition Manager” at the website of RAI Amsterdam, the organizer of Interclean. Turns it out was for the Interclean show, so my entry into the cleaning industry was more by chance. However, I have grown quite fond of the industry, the important role it plays, and the wonderful people working in it. Can’t believe it’s been almost 10 years already!

What was your motivation at that period? What plans? What was your vision of expected growth at Interclean?

Interclean was in a good shape when I joined the team, the show was growing steadily in attendance and size. A true market leader in its field; innovative character and international focus made the show stand out from the other professional cleaning shows. It was a good atmosphere to get familiarized with the industry and the trade show specifics; the organiser’s side of the events industry. 

Since then a lot of time has gone by and since this year you are the Director of Professional Cleaning and Hygiene at Interclean. Our congratulations. That’s a great way. What has changed since that time personally for you in tasks, goals, perhaps in affairs in general?

The people and industry remains the same: the team and our stakeholders, our community and advisors. Our inspiration and information comes from the industry, and Rob was always very keen on making sure we were making connections with the industry wherever and whenever we can. That is something I want to pursue; for me personally as well as for the team. 

What did you manage to learn from the experience of Rob den Hertog? As we know Rob is now the Counsellor of Interclean, what issues does he focus on, what recommendations does he give?

Rob is still involved in the show. We have named him special advisor and is part of the team. Over these past 17 years, he has become a true industry expert. He likes to detect signs for new initiatives and  trends, and uses his network to connect these to existing developments and content. He gives directions and keeps us at the top of our game ;-). 

We would like to touch upon the map of the distribution and development of the Interclean Trade Show. The coverage of the Amsterdam Trade Show is amazing! What regions does the show cover and are you going to develop the same size of the Trade Show as in Amsterdam in other parts of the world?

The Interclean Amsterdam show is an international event that attracts exhibitors and visitors from around the globe. We have visitors from 150 countries, that is practically represents the whole world, it is really great to welcome all these nationalities under one roof and creating the best experience for each and every one that takes the efforts to come to Amsterdam. 

And, of course, we can not miss such an important issue, which has sent shockwaves across the whole world, that is the coronavirus pandemic. All our interviewers from the cleaning industry emphasize even the more crucial role of cleaning nowadays compared to the pre pandemic period since the spread of COVID-19 and a lot of people became aware of its importance in everyday life. How the pandemic influenced Interclean, trade shows schedule and how it transformed the cleaning industry, your team and personally you? What quick fixes and rapid decisions did you have to make? It is of particular interest for us because you became the director of the trade show at a difficult time and now you are close to various changes in the organizational processes of the trade show. 

In past period, the subject hygiene was one of the most discussed subjects in the world and cleaning finally received the appreciation it deserves. It became important to highlight the expertise of all the major cleaning and hygiene suppliers and connect them with those who are searching the best solutions to open up their facilities again. That is the reason why we introduced the Online concept. 

In 2020 due to the pandemic a physical attendance of the trade show was impossible that’s why you decided to organize an online trade show. It is an innovation! You go mainstream! Share your impressions with us. What benefits did you get from that experience?

The online learnings, importance of business relationships, innovation and need for knowledge transfer. 

We’d go as far as saying that a long-expected international cleaning event will finally be held on May, 10-13 2022 in Amsterdam RAI! What are your expectations?

Reconnecting the industry, and show the world the developments that accelerated change in the cleaning industry, and the challenges that we have overcome. It is going to be the most anticipated event ever! 

We would like to note that the show will be held not in a usual, but hybrid format. And, as Rob den Hertog said in an interview for internewx.com: “… the show echoed changes in the industry”. What trends do you observe in the cleaning industry now and therefore how will Interclean Amsterdam be transformed in 2022?

I am excited to say that we want to implement a number of digital tools, not to replace the show, but to enhace the experience of those at the show. By doing say, we create more value for your visit by using data, making sure you meet the right people, have your personal program and much more. And we want to attract more young people to the show, and to introduce them to cleaning industry. 

In 2018 the edition amazed everybody by the size, the quantity of visitors and exhibitors, innovations etc. What is the main concept of the coming up edition?

Interclean Amsterdam 2022 will focus on Efficiency, Health & Well-being , Technology and Sustainability.

Interclean Amsterdam 2018 impressed us by the variety of segments: Laundry, Waste Solutions, Healthcare, On-Premise Laundry, Eco friendliness, Zero Waste LAB, Healthcare Cleaning LAB, InnovationLAB. In our interview with Rob in 2018 he shared with us the dream of his team regarding 2020:  “I think, at this point, we do not want to become larger, but we do want to become more inclusive; show more diversity in the industry by adding more segments.That’s our dream”. Is the dream still the same? What segments are we going to see in 2022? Should we expect to see new LABs? 

These event will showcase familiar features such as the Healthcare Cleaning LAB and the InnovationLAB. The Healthcare Cleaning Forum will be organized in cooperation with Clean Hospitals. This High Level Forum will take place on Thursday 12 May and will attract specialists from the Hospital and Care Sector and address issues around environmental hygiene. 

The Interclean Stage is central to the knowledge sharing and networking opportunities available. A range of free sessions will explore innovation, new regulations and standards, and participation in the growing circular economy. 

The Facility Inspiration Event is a programme dedicated helping to improve companies performance; and the Robot Arena has live demonstrations of the latest robot cleaners taking on a series of challenges.

Internewx wants to emphasize that in 2018, for the first time in the history of Interclean Amsterdam, the whole territory of the RAI Amsterdam was used and a very exciting sport event Interclean Circle Run was held. Are you planning the trade shows of the same size in 2022? Robert, please,  share with us what sport events or other interesting events are going to be held next time?

A new event is the Hackathon that will challenge several teams from all over the world to come demonstrate their problem-solving skills. The challenge that the teams will take, revolves around the development of an application concept for cleaning personnel, based on a real daily issue.

There was a useful relaxation area called Auping Refresh Lounge at the last Amsterdam offline show. Everybody was able to visit and spend time there. Are you going to organize anything similar next year or other interesting area that will be a novelty for the visitors of the show?

Clean Connect includes an AI matchmaking system that will connect you to the most relevant persons at the show and propose to connect with eachother. Once connected you can plan a meeting and do business at the clean connect area at the showfloor. This is really something that will enhance the business character of the show. 

Please tell us about Interclean Online. What is the programm and main idea of the show?

Interclean Online is a series of webinars that addresses hot topics around the future of the industry. These topics will have a follow up at the event in May. For months after Amsterdam and prior to the China event, the topics will have a connection with future developments and are relevant for China and the Chinese market. The main idea is to offer knowledge and connect professionals with similar interests throughout the year.

Would you consider a hybrid show ( the combination of online and offline format) to be a temporary or a permanent reality? 

Definitely a permanent reality. This was already in development and the pandemic was simply the accelerator in this process. Online will be synchronized in our offline events and will become part of the community platform before, during and after the events.  

Robert, you have been engaged in the world of trade shows for many years, and we are sure that you still  have a lot of intentions and ideas to implement. What does the world of trade shows mean for you personally?

Even before I worked at RAI, I had a background in marketing and events, so I already visited many trade shows and conferences. For me a trade shows really shows just how powerful the personal connection is: meeting like-minded people in a comfortable business enviroment.  Since September, the first shows have started taking place again at the RAI, where we have our offices, and it gives me so much energy and inspiration to see all those visitors and exhibitors engage with each other in-person again!

We wish you success and new achievements. Let your intensity and energy help you to implement all your ideas! What inspire you? We know that you like to travel, what else cheers you up and gives you an incentive to develop?

Yes, you are right, I do love to travel to see new places – it gives me a lot of energy and new inspiration when I am in a different enviroment. Besides that, I am also an avid runner, and try to run a half marathon each weekend, it really clears my mind to be in the outdoors like that. And in the summer, you will also find me on the water on my SUP board. 

Let’s dream. What will  Interclean Amsterdam look like in 10 years? What do you want to see in it and what is the background for now?

Interclean 2030 is the place where you will be inspired by the industry. Where you will meet other professionals, off- and online, where you can see the trends in the industry, find all the people and products that the industry offers and inspires outside the industry to become part of the cleaning community. 

We have such a tradition to pass a torch to another person. What other person from the cleaning industry would you be interested in hearing interviewed? Who would you like to hear from?

I think we can learn something from everyone, experienced people that are in the industry for a long time and also people that are new to the industry. From my experience I know that young people or professionals new to the industry; bring new perspectives, new questions, new insights and new ideas. That is why I would like to pass the torch to a young newcomer that has already proven his place in our industry. Recently, at Pulire Verona, my colleague Nello met the founder of Golden Filter, an entrepeneur of only 25 years old now already a striving business in the industry. That’s the kind of new people we would like to attract to Interclean and the event!

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