The Hague: Association Events Can Bring About Global Change

The Hague & Partners Convention Bureau has released a white paper exploring the meaning of legacy in the context of global association and not-for-profit events. The key finding of the research is that legacy must be driven by the organizers, rather than by the destination. The research was conducted in two stages—quantitative research via a workshop with 11 international association conference professionals and quantitative survey data gathered from 70 event professionals from around the world.

The research found that for event legacy to be achieved, it must lie at the heart of an association or not-for-profit’s mission and strategy, rather than be limited to a specific event. It also revealed that although destinations facilitate conferences and events, providing relevant local support, they cannot drive the achievement of legacy. Instead, it is up to the associations and not-for-profits coming to a destination to define their own goals, needs and desires.

“Associations and not-for-profits are legacy organizations. They exist to provide long-term value to their members and the communities they serve. As such, legacy activities must relate back to the goals of the association, rather than being focused on the destination itself,” said Bas Schot, head of convention bureau.

“These organizations exist to drive the cure for diseases, resolve global social issues, improve education for millions and far, far more. The achievement of those goals and incremental progress towards them are how associations and not-for-profits measure their legacy. Delegates taking part in activities such as painting walls in a local scout hut or tidying a city are admirable and positive ways to help an event achieve its corporate social responsibility goals; however, despite how often it is suggested that such activities are a legacy, it simply is not the case.”

The research goes on to highlight the fact that The Hague & Partners Convention Bureau believes that association events are powerful tools that can bring people together and bring about global change. Destinations facilitate this by creating the perfect physical place for people to gather. However, the creation and success of an event legacy program must start with the organizer’s goals and aspirations.

Schot continued: “Legacy is a term that is often discussed in the context of trade shows, conferences, and other events. However, it means different things to different people and organizations. We wanted to explore the meaning of legacy and how we can support clients in achieving their long-term impact.  It was clear from the outset that legacy driven by a destination risks being selfish. If we are to support our association and not-for-profit clients, we must instead see legacy from their point of view and support their goals—not our own.”

The research concludes by demonstrating that the destination’s role is to facilitate the event legacy process by providing the necessary tools, resources, and even financial support.

“Ultimately, our industry should be focused on supporting legacy discussions within associations and providing them with the tools to make their own decisions. It is up to the organizers to define their own goals and aspirations and to create a legacy program that aligns with their mission and strategy. And we look forward to helping them achieve that,” concluded Schot.


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