Cities 'selfish' to pursue own event legacy agenda, white paper

Legacy /  / 
The Hague The Hague Photo Credit: Michael Fousert,

Associations must decide what they want an event to achieve in terms of legacy and host cities should act as nothing more than facilitating partners, according to a new white paper by Hague & Partners Convention Bureau.

Further, cities who actively push a legacy agenda, to reap long-term local benefits, risked being seen as ‘selfish’ and ought instead to ‘see legacy from the point of view of their association clients’. 

The white paper was based on a roundtable discussion with 11 international associations and a survey of 70 meeting professionals from around the world.

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

Bas Schot, head of Hague Convention Bureau, said: "Associations and not-for-profits are legacy organisations. 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. These organisations exist to drive the cure for diseases, resolve global social issues, improve education for millions and 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.”

While the research found that 56 per cent of association meeting professional were working on event legacy, 31 per cent were only ‘considering it’, and 13 per cent didn’t consider it at all. 

A lack of budget and ‘not knowing where to start’ were cited as typical barriers to associations pursuing event legacy programmes.  

Schot added: “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 organisations. 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 risk 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 concluded 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 organisers 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,” said Bas Schot.

The full white paper and research results can be downloaded here. 

James Lancaster
Written By
James Lancaster

AMI editor James Lancaster is a familiar face in the meetings industry and international association community. Since joining AMI in 2010, he has gained a reputation for asking difficult questions and getting lost in convention centres. Proofer, podcaster, and panellist - in his spare time, James likes to walk, read, listen to music, and drink beer.


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