Interview with Dim Hemeltjen, Entrepreneur
- 6 min read
I come from a family where hospitality is kind of the norm. So when I was looking around at universities, after secondary school, I of course, looked into Hotelschool The Hague; I was immediately interested and felt at home there. I was very young when I started; I had just turned 18, and I think I was even the second youngest in my year. I remember thinking that those 20-year-olds were very old. I truly enjoyed my time at Hotelschool The Hague, especially living in Skotel and my time with La Confrérie. One of the many positive and vivid memories I have from school is the close friends I made. I still see them often. One event that stands out is the student cabaret.
Thinking back to my time there, I definitely don’t regret it. I am proud to have gone to Hotelschool The Hague. The Hotelschool helped me so much in my development. You learn things they don’t teach you anywhere else. I notice it often, it’s the little things; but it’s those little things that help you so much in daily business and life.
In working life, I never really had to apply for a job. I sent out CVs but I never really had to go through the whole application process. I was lucky. When I did my final internship I worked for Center Parcs. Their head office is in Rotterdam, so when I was doing my Master there at the Erasmus University, I occasionally stopped by to say hi to some people. One time I ran into Mark Haak Wegmann. He told me to send him my CV, which I did: two months later I was working there. I worked for Center Parks from mid-2004 until about 2011, mainly working on the coordination of development projects in France. Following this, I started my current company M2Leisure together with, amongst others, Mark - my former boss and now one of my partners. M2Leisure is a consultancy and development company for the leisure industry.
Starting a new company is exhilarating. Because of the field we’re in, we couldn’t stop our day-jobs straight away s we worked on some projects to start with just to keep our heads above water. Each project needs large investments. The field we work in is a niche business; we mainly develop water parks and holiday recreational centres. One thing I had to get used to is working for myself; I had always worked in teams before this, at school, my internships, and in my former job. Now I have to make all the decisions myself, which is very exciting of course. The business is always a gamble but we have been very lucky, especially in the locations. We get to work all over the world in countries like the Netherlands, Germany, France, Romania, India, Canada, China, Morocco, as well as countries in South-America.
For my work I speak a lot of French. I happened to learn how to speak French because of the Hotelschool and the first internship I did, which was in France at Hotel Chateau Des Alpilles, in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. I also have to speak a lot of English and German for business, but French has become a very large part of it; we wouldn’t even be able to communicate with some clients if we didn’t have French speakers.
In the future we intend to stay active in the countries where tourism is developing or where it has great potential to develop. This can be either inside or outside Europe. From experience we tend to look from a resort business model´s perspective, this means looking at short stays, family oriented, local, sustainable and the environment; we also have a focus on (indoor tropical) water parks.
My advice to students is: work hard, play hard. It sounds corny but it’s true. Open up the books and get your work done. Before you know it, you won’t have time to learn and study anymore. I see that a lot of students often forget to study; they forget that they actually have to learn something. But also: don’t forget to enjoy your time at school!