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Marjon van Strien (Landal GreenParks): “Don’t think too hard. Make sure your case is manageable”

14 March 2022

The registration for the DDMA AI Hackathon is open! Ambitious companies can now register their teams to compete and show the world they are an authority in the field on AI. How do you prepare yourself and your team? And what can it ultimately bring you? To give a glimpse of the experience of (winning) the AI Hackathon we talk with Marjon van Strien, Digital Guest Experience Specialist from last years’ winning team, Landal GreenParks.

How did you and your team from Landal GreenParks prepare for participation?

We participated in the AI ​​Hackathon with not one but two Landal GreenParks teams, each consisting of employees from different departments from our organisation. Some team members had never heard of AI while others already knew a lot about it. This was a fun mix! In preparation, we held a few sessions at our office in The Hague to catch everyone up on the subject and to brainstorm about fun cases. Also, YouTube offered a lot of inspiration…😉

How did you experience the AI Hackathon and what was it like to ultimately win and take home the trophy? Personally, as well as for your whole team?

The day itself was very special! Normally, at regular business events like conferences, you often sit in a chair and listen all day, but that was definitely not the case here. From the moment we arrived, we started working with our team. First altogether, later we split into pairs with the techies and commerce together, to meet again after lunch and further shape our idea. We worked until late (good thing: there were pizzas on location!). Some team members even continued in the hotel room until late at night. I was asked to give the presentation together with another team member. I like to present, but we were given a very short time so it was actually a pitch. This was nerve-wrecking because you want to show and tell everything you’ve worked out previously. Ultimately we won, which we never expected! Compared to other participating companies, we had only little experience with AI. When our name was called, we were very surprised and super happy to end the day with the trophy in our hands and receiving a lot of congratulations. Very cool! Also internally at Landal GreenParks, we received a lot of attention, which made us feel like we really achieved something.

How did the collaboration go between team members with different backgrounds?

This went very well. It was nice to have technical people in our team who can actually build an AI concept. But it was also nice to have the creative and commercial view represented. We complemented each other well, some moments we worked altogether at one table while others we splitted up.. We also looked closely at how everyone could get the most out of their day and learn something.

What has winning the award brought you, in the field of AI within your organization, but also with regard to personal goals?

It was great to see that Landal GreenParks paid a lot of attention to our win, but it was not entirely unexpected. The set-up of the DDMA AI Hackathon fits in well within Landal GreenParks’ culture, in which employees are encouraged to build, test and adapt something within a short period of time. Winning the DDMA AI Hackathon has shown that you can create something very interesting within 2 days. Internally, the subject of AI has also been put back on the map. Its importance is certainly recognised. For me personally, the event confirmed that I find commercial projects at the cutting edge of IT very interesting, especially when it comes to topics that I don’t know much about in advance. That gives me a real challenge.

Do you have any tips and tricks you would like to share with the participants of this edition?

Don’t think too hard. Grab a case that is manageable and for which you can really work something out within 2 days. Make sure that you convey your case well to the audience and that you clearly highlight the value for customers, employees, or in our case guests.