Programme partner interview - The Social Hub Maastricht
Marlou Stijnen - Partnership Manager14 March 2023
Each month we’re going to give one of our Programme Partners the floor and introduce themselves and their services so you can ensure you’re getting the most out of life in the Maastricht Region. This month we interviewed Marlou Stijnen, Partnership Manager of the Social Hub in Maastricht.
How has your organisation been involved with Expat Centre Maastricht Region?
‘’The Social Hub welcomes numerous international guests. These are hotel guests, (international) students and expats. Of course we also have hotel facilities, that is for guests who are with us for a shorter period of time, a weekend for example. With our longer stays (those of more than 30 nights), we still often see that these are new employees of companies who are offered a temporary stay with us and are planning to move to the Maastricht Region.
That's kind of where we come from. We are very much community-based which means we try to mix students with expats, internationals, local businesses. We really do want to make everyone feel at home here in the Maastricht Region. It is with this in mind that we came into contact with the Expat Centre Maastricht Region. We share the same mission: providing internationals with a soft landing – and through cooperation, that can only improve.’’
What is the best thing about living in the Maastricht Region?
‘’The Maastricht Region is becoming very international. The people here are hospitable and becoming internationally minded, but with respect for their own roots, just look at Carnaval, André Rieu's concerts. Of course you want to preserve that individuality and pass it on to the new international residents. I think Maastricht is handling this very well compared to other cities in the Netherlands. Where in some places you see that nowadays the international almost has the upper hand, Maastricht retains something authentic.’’
Have you noticed that your international visitors are also interested in those traditional Maastricht events? Do they want to be involved in them?
‘’Yes, they are really very interested. We also organise community events at The Social Hub where we connect to the local happenings in the city, so that people also get the complete Maastricht experience. We have taken some guests to Carnaval. I can imagine that when you arrive in Maastricht for the first time around Carnaval and you see the flags and people in fancy dress or with feathers on their hats that you think to yourself: What is this now?
We even laid out Carnaval clothes in certain rooms with the message: ‘Maybe you don't know, but we celebrate Carnaval here. Here’s a costume for you. Try it on, celebrate with us.' We want them to be able to say 'Carnaval, they celebrate that in the Maastricht Region. I experienced that, I was there.'
You often talk about mixing communities.
‘’Yes, we too see that there is a scarcity of employees in the Maastricht Region. A lot of young professionals already reside in The Social Hub here and we have a large network of companies that also know how to find us. This is an opportunity for our region. That's why we try to connect these groups. We try to draw students' attention to the companies here in Zuid-Limburg. We also offer the companies a stage by inviting them as guest speakers at our events. This gives them the opportunity to make contact with up-and-coming talent.
For example, we also have the co-working piece for startups.
From student to startup to professional, you can go through that whole evolution here. Cool, right?’’
The Social Hub is a new name. Many people still know it as The Student Hotel? Why the name change?
‘’During our tenth anniversary, we announced we were changing names. We thought this was a great moment because of those symbolic ten years but also because we feel we have matured. We started as a hotel for students and weekend guests. That has fully expanded to include extended stay for people who need longer-term accommodation. We now organise meetings and events, we have started to focus more on the community, we are much more now than just a hotel. By bringing all these different communities together, beautiful new things can be created. That is our goal now. Hence The Social Hub.’’
Where can we find you?
‘’At the beautiful building at Sphinxcour 9A in Maastricht. Further to that, I would like to offer an invitation to everyone to come and pop by if only for a cup of coffee. We are open to everyone. Our events are also open to everyone.’’