Despite living in a digital world, the demise of print has been greatly exaggerated. Belgium’s

leading serviced apartments specialist BBF has been successfully using an in-flight magazine format

to connect with, entertain and inform its expat client-base about all that Brussels has to offer –

and much more.

by Paul Sillers, London Business Correspondent

 

As a species, humans have quickly evolved – within a generation we’ve become multi-channel

consumers of data which we use to make efficient use of our time – both in and out of office hours.

With many executives often glued to their laptop, tablet and smartphone screens throughout the

working day, the traditional format of the printed page can be a sight for sore eyes when BBF

tenants get back to their apartment after a hard day’s work.

So, back in 2003, BBF had a “Eureka moment” and decided that when it came to providing tenants

with practical information covering the day-to-day servicing needs of the property, intel on local

retailers and amenities – as well as details of Brussels cultural sites, eateries and trending social

venues, a format that might unify lots of diverse information into a digestible and user-friendly

oracle is that of in-flight magazines. Follow Up’s format, offering bite-sized nuggets of local insight,

really chimes with tenants across the 1600 properties in BBF’s Brussels portfolio, informing readers

about products and services focused around the needs of Brussels’ expat community.

Keeping Follow Up’s content relevant for a wide spectrum of readers means listening to tenants and

carefully incorporating the valuable input of BBF’s partners who offer pertinent services and

products. BBF’s Marketing Manager Bernard Kerkhof explains that these partners “have a fresh view

on what’s going on in this niche. But with such a broad range of tenants it’s not always easy to

please everyone with relevant information.” He says that BBF therefore “encourages our customers

and readers to give us feedback and tips in order to present the best objective picture of what is

going on in the Brussels expat community.”

So how does Follow Up balance its coverage of local facilities, trending venues and must-see locales

in the city? Kerkhof points out that “one of the main reasons why we created Follow Up was to

inform new tenants at BBF about the area in which they were residing. Information was given about

local retailers, amenities and the areas were explained to newcomers.” However, as information

relevant to the expat community came to light about new hotspots and events in Brussels, this

augmented the content of Follow Up, evolving it into a magazine that extends the relevancy and

scope of its content: “Today we want to create a balance in giving information about what’s trendy

and appealing in Brussels for expats – events, services, hotspots, cultural events, sports events – but

also practical information such as tips on public transport, health care, financial, insurance,

immigration and tips to integrate in the expat community and having a hassle-free stay in Brussels.”

As it publishes its tenth edition, BBF highlights the magazine’s central role in its ongoing brand

communications: “We think that Follow Up will take a more prominent position in what we offer as a

marketing tool for our partners, to enable them to advertise their services, as we not only want to

reach our residents but also the people who arranged their stay with BBF: HR, Global Mobility

Buyers, Relocators, international companies and organisations. Follow Up will keep on being printed

every year but will also be digitised and presented in a personalised way to each of BBF’s customers

via the MyBBF login on the website.”

To get in touch with Follow Up’s editorial team, contact BBF’s Marketing Department at

marketing@bbf.be or call +32 2 705 05 21, then select ‘marketing’.

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