Every year, The Hague plays host to a growing number of international events and conventions. According to The Hague Convention Bureau, the city of peace and justice has outgrown its status as the hidden gem of Europe. These days, The Hague offers its partners the opportunity to learn all about event design for their meetings.
Bas Schot is the head of The Hague Convention Bureau, which handles the marketing and acquisition of business events. “We serve our partners in the city, such as hotels, museums and convention centres. We help connect potential clients with local partners. In fact, we show event organisers the way to The Hague’s knowledge and event infrastructure,” explains Schot.
The Hague Convention Bureau introduces foreign companies to what The Hague and its partners have to offer. “It’s quite a lot. The Hague has an impressive infrastructure with many world-class event locations. The Hague is a city of peace and justice, making an impact. It attracts international organisations, knowledge centres, companies and students, collaborating on ideas to solve global problems. In The Hague, we’re working towards creating a better, safer and more just world. Conventions with these themes are actually a very good fit for The Hague. And then, add the attractiveness of the city itself. Not everyone knows that The Hague has a beach, which appeals to the imagination. And it’s also a convenient, accessible and affordable city with optimal accessibility,” confirms Schot.
A nice summary, but that is not enough for The Hague Convention Bureau. Since diving deep is a hot topic these days, the bureau’s advisory role is taken seriously. Their partnership with Canada’s Ottawa Tourism is a perfect example of this. “Together, we wanted to make a difference and share our knowledge of hybrid events with each other, as we quickly noticed that they are here to stay. The initiative was immediately successful and led to an alliance with 24 cities around the world in the field of hybrid events. Within three months, the Hybrid City Alliance was a reality. Its mission is to connect the world with a global network of partners that foster collaboration in order to give meeting professionals access to knowledge, innovation and tools for planning hybrid events. It’s a mouthful, but it works. As one of the initiators, it put The Hague in a leadership position, which fuelled interest in The Hague as an event city.”
Event Design Lab
Another innovative topic on the agenda is event design. The Hague wants to become a global leader, as reported by the media in the summer of 2022. The Hague Convention Bureau is working on this theme together with Event Design Collective and Postillion Hotel & Convention Centre Den Haag. “During corona, many organisers were at their wit’s end. We noticed that things were going to change structurally and that new trends were going to emerge. Event design is an interactive study, which may not help you organise a convention, but it will help you take a good look at participants’ behaviour during one. Many organisers still plan conventions from the top down, but they should be doing that from their participants’ perspective. Event design is a short course that helps organisers better understand their visitors. Organisers help clients plan and think differently about the results of their events. We think with clients about how conventions can best be designed in The Hague. We come up with out-of-the-box proposals and respond to clients’ specific wishes. In 2022, we trained 40 partners to receive a ‘Level 1 Event Design Canvas’ training certificate, as we call it. Thanks to event design, people can create valuable and innovative events, which also benefits The Hague. We create added value in the acquisition of conventions as compared to competitors, which gives us a better chance of hosting conventions that provide economic spin-off for The Hague,” explains Schot.
“The Hague is a city of peace and justice, making an impact”
The city now also has an in-house Event Design Lab at the Postillion Hotel & Convention Centre Den Haag, the first meeting location in Europe with its own event design studio. “Here, under the guidance of the Event Design Collective, organisers can further design their convention based on the international Event Canvas method in a special lab,” says Schot.
Building a legacy
The Hague Convention Bureau has acquired a taste and wants to go a step further on all fronts, emphasises Schot. Legacy is also such a theme. “We’ve also developed a programme for this, in which we join the client in a round table discussion and then produce a white paper. It’s about the legacy, what’s left of an event. We make specific agreements together, look at what’s going on in the market and share this in a document, benefitting both the organiser and the city. This can only be done by formulating goals well in advance. If you organise a convention on the theme of sustainability and, thanks to your convention, an ecosystem is created where companies want to establish themselves here, then your event helps ensure a nice legacy. That’s what we’re going for. Together, we will put The Hague as a convention and event city on the international event map.”
Interview: Sjoerd Geurts
Scheveningen is a special feature of the city of The Hague.