Blog | Congresses

Nov 15th, 2017

We are with Yvonne Kret, manager of Leiden Convention Bureau and Carmen Alvarez Perez, director or Sales & Marketing of Holiday Inn Leiden and ECC Leiden. Two women who both have earned their spurs in the association and hospitality industry. What do they have in common? Leiden of course, the City of Discoveries. They are happy to explain how they joined forces to promote this city as a destination for conferences and events.

Benefited from each other’s expertise

“With 200 rooms, Holiday Inn is the largest hotel of Leiden. It is very important to work well with the person representing the city,” says Carmen. “Three years ago, we converted our former sports hall to an Event & Convention Center. Here we can accommodate 2000 people and we have access to several sub-halls. It is an asset for the city. The ECC was given its own corporate identity apart from Holiday Inn. So, we really had to make a name for ourselves in a reasonably new MICE market. By working together with Leiden Convention Bureau, we gained a wider reach. Also, with the arrival of the new ECC, Leiden Convention Bureau was able to promote the city better in that industry.” Yvonne agrees. ‘We have expertise in the association market. Holiday Inn and ECC, but also our other partners, know exactly what is possible at their location. You can combine this knowledge to bring conferences to Leiden together.”

Selling each other to become a better city

“The strength of Leiden Convention Bureau is to bring the conference to the city first. Next, the venue must do its best to get the organisation excited and welcome them with open arms. In addition, it is important that you can make concessions if necessary in the interests of the city,” Carmen ads. “You know, of course, that if there is a big convention coming up, you are in competition with each other. But thanks to this cooperation, the number of contracts has increased.” Since they see and speak to each other more, Yvonne believes that there is a greater feeling of solidarity to one another. “At trade fairs, the venues are next to Leiden Convention Bureau in order to promote Leiden together,” says Carmen. “You also need each other. If we want to organise a congress for 1000 people, we have enough space, but not enough rooms. So, you have to work together with other hotels and sell each other. And if you don’t get it yourself, you want the congress to remain in Leiden.”

Leiden as European City of Science

Thanks to the close cooperation in the city, Leiden won the bid for the Euro Science Open Forum congress in 2022. “As a result, in 2022 Leiden will also be for one year a European City of Science, which fully matches with our positioning as an international knowledge city. We will organise activities in line with this congress and this title in that year, but also in the run-up to it. This will help us in our acquisition of scientific conferences,” Yvonne explains.

Quality improvement beneficial impact on the city

Carmen sees many opportunities for Leiden thanks to the new Chinese investors of Holiday Inn and ECC: “The hotel celebrates it’s 50 years anniversary next year and is a stable name in Leiden. Our investors want to make it attractive to stay ahead of the competition. This offers a lot of perspective for the future in order to attract distinguished congresses. The same applies to the ECC, which we have provided this summer with a new, modern floor. We are really going through a quality improvement and Leiden can also benefit from that. In addition, with the help of our Chinese investors, we’re not only placing the Netherlands on the map in China, but also Leiden as a destination for the growing Chinese market.”