(Pictured above: Lesley Mackay, right, vice president of Ottawa Tourism, announces a tourism and meetings partnership with The Hague Convention Bureau, represented by Manuel Wrobel, at IMEX America in Las Vegas.)
By Ray Smith
Exhibit City News
Citing a 75-year history of friendship between Canada and The Netherlands, Lesley Mackay of Ottawa Tourism and Manuel Wrobel of The Hague Convention Bureau announced a memorandum of understanding Wednesday at IMEX America in Las Vegas for cross-marketing their cities’ offerings to the global meetings and event industry.
The partnership is the culmination of a bond created and developed over the last five years by the two convention bureaus. It reflects more than 75 years of collaboration and friendship between the two cities, which was particularly strengthened during World War II when the Dutch Royal family sheltered in Ottawa.
“That special relationship is still visible today,” says Mackay, vice president of meetings and events for Ottawa Tourism. “Our destinations have very similar DNA—similar thinking, similar offerings, similar specialization.”
Between the two political capitals and international cities, there are many synergies and opportunities for collaboration. Ottawa and The Hague have a like-minded approach on a broad spectrum of issues, including a common commitment to multilateralism and rules-based international order.
They both have a younger demographic and both are headquarters for peace and justice departments, Mackay adds. Ottawa is home to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, comparable to the FBI in the United States, we well as Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization.
The collaboration between Ottawa Tourism and The Hague Convention Bureau will open doors for both cities to meet new clients through knowledge sharing and exchange. Just one example is support given by Ottawa Tourism in the run-up to The Hague hosting One Young World in 2018. As one of the world’s largest and most complex events, the Canadian capital was able to share its experiences from hosting in 2016.
“Together, we can leverage our local ecosystems and strengths of each destination. We basically connect events and meetings with local ecosystems and from there they can source speakers and subject matter experts,” Mackay explains.
During an Ottawa Mayoral Mission to the Netherlands Sept. 16-20, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson will meet with his counterpart Pauline Krikke, Mayor of The Hague, to sign the marketing agreement.
Key objectives from the first year of the partnership include:
- Creation of joint sales activity, the first part of which took place Sept. 10 at IMEX America when a group of association buyers joined Ottawa Tourism and The Hague Convention Bureau for an evening of education and relationship development.
- Creation of research and intelligence documents focused on the security, governance and defense sectors. This will include identifying opportunities for both cities based on current leads and existing partnerships.
- Identification of clients where both cities would be of interest followed by the creation of a joint proposal/bid highlighting synergies between the two destinations as well as legacy benefits of working together.
- Identification of historic Hague clients that would be interested in Ottawa and vice-versa.
Wrobel says he moved to The Netherlands by choice about three years ago because it’s a forward-thinking, open-minded country. Both Ottawa and The Hague are known as cities of peace and justice.
“We have the same values,” says Wrobel, international sales manager for The Hague Convention Bureau. “We have comparable local industries, and not only because of our history, but we have an understanding of each other’s interests. There are lots of international congresses around the world, and every year they have them at different continents. This is much more efficient for clients to organize events.”
While it’s too early to predict the potential economic impact this collaboration will deliver, both cities expect it to be a significant success and potentially act as a model for other like-minded destinations around the world.
“Obviously, the positive economic benefits that meetings and destinations bring,” Mackay says of the impetus behind the partnership.
It will strengthen the value proposition of both cities and provide a platform to explore a host of new opportunities, particularly in the sectors where the two destinations already achieve significant success, she adds.
“It’s great to see destinations coming together creatively to find solutions for association events around the world,” comments Thomas Atkinson, future host manager from Routes. “In particular, as an organizer, I appreciate and will undoubtedly benefit from the effort these destinations are putting in to learn from each other, as they develop their individual offerings based on their differing experiences. Ottawa and The Hague have clearly identified key similarities that allow them to work together and identify opportunities that will be of benefit for all.”