The Hague Convention Bureau: Challenge Accepted
20 October 2020
The following was originally published in Dutch by Meetings magazine. This translation contains a few minor changes but is otherwise a fair representation of the article published by Erik van der Does de Bye at https://www.meetingsplatform.nl/interview/the-hague-partners/?utm_sourc…
Photo credits: Holland Park Media, HortiHeroes, Partners Venues.
The year 2020 has become a year of great challenges for the events sector. The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic can be felt across all parts of the industry. However, the Dutch market is leading the world when it comes to adaptation and innovation. The Hague & Partners in particular has made the transition from the traditional sales and acquisition model of DMO to marketing and consultancy in a very short time frame. MEETINGS spoke with Bas Schot, Head of The Hague Convention Bureau at The Hague & Partners and Olga Golubova, Marketing Communications Advisor about the steps that they have been taking.
The Hague is known worldwide as the City of Peace and Justice. It is home to countless world leading organisations focused on international law, these include the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Arbitration. In addition, The Hague has been the beating heart of Dutch democracy for centuries: the government, parliament and its highest legal institutions all reside here.
The Hague has a vibrant culture that never stops, including history, theatre, nightlife and cuisine. The Hague is increasingly putting itself on the map and tourism has traditionally been an important economic foundation for the city. This is no surprise with highlights including its beautiful architecture, friendly people and the seaside resort of Scheveningen famous far beyond the Netherlands. As an event city, The Hague is a major power in the Netherlands, not just because of the city's international and political status but also its wide range of venues – from the very large to the small and intimate, each with its own atmosphere and allure.
The Hague as a conference city
“The Hague Convention Bureau has used the past several months to fully adapt to today's requirements,” says Schot. "We are still in the middle of the process, in which we are implementing many measures related to the impact of COVID0-19."
However, whilst much of the international business market was almost at a standstill, The Hague Convention Bureau strongly anticipated the growth in hybrid events and reacted accordingly. “Hybrid has now definitely become part of the sector. In the future, meetings will be more hybrid even though the need for live meetings will remain high. That requires a change in thinking.” To support this, THCB has made the conference options across the city, including capacity data, transparent for everyone.
What has also seen a definitive breakthrough, that sets THCB apart from its competitors, is the 2020 webinar program. THCB put together a complete program of in-depth panel discussions, debates and learning in just a few short weeks. These were publicised over the course of several months with great interest worldwide. The webinars allowed a great deal of public interaction, allowing many people to participate. “Interactivity has been the greatest learning from these webinars,” says Schot. "Three people and a moderator discuss and debate a key issue together and the whole world can, as it were, watch." We modelled it on how other sectors successfully work. Especially the gaming industry and to a lesser extent the TV world, which are at the forefront of interactive working.
After the restart of the events industry on 1 July during LIVE AGAIN in the Fokker Terminal, a subsequent hybrid event, “How viable are the new ways of meeting” was organised in the World Forum The Hague based on the previously successful webinar initiatives. It closely examined the role of hybrid and digital events and their future usage. Vital contributions were made by the panel members present, including Carin Smand, executive director of the European Haematology Association and much was discussed about the importance of partnerships.
“In recent months, many conference regions have joined forces and all kinds of cooperation has emerged,” says Golubova. "In this way, the Netherlands has maintained its position on the international meetings map through partnership agreements across well-cooperating regions."
We see this development in The Hague itself, “many colleagues are looking at what they can do together, especially in view of reduced capabilities and capacities. In this way, events can still take place using key technology to bring together people from many destinations.”