Marketing Apeldoorn to the International World
If we mention the word ‘Netherlands’ or ‘Holland’ to any foreigners, the first city that comes to their minds is ‘Amsterdam’ or ‘Rotterdam’ as these cities are widely known all around the world. Apeldoorn is basically unknown to many people as it does not have the same international vibe as Amsterdam, Rotterdam or The Hague. That is why Wittenborg’s 1st Project Week of the new Academic Year 2021-2022 starts off with the task for the students to do some ‘City Marketing’ of Apeldoorn. It was a week packed with activities including kick-off session, elevator pitching of their ideas, discussions, creation of websites, presentation and finally compilation of their reports.
City marketing, sometimes called city branding, is the term used to promote a city in order to make the city more appealing and to attract more tourists, businesses and organisations to come to the city and set up base, for business or residential purposes. The main aim is to make it known nationally and internationally and to stimulate the local economy as well as for job creation. In this Project Week, all bachelor Phase 1 and 2 students were grouped into 4s or 5s, led by student mentors, and had to come up with a Marketing Plan and website to promote the city of Apeldoorn to any of the focus groups, namely potential students, potential residents, professionals, companies, multinationals or tourists.
Apeldoorn is a city in the province of Gelderland, and the largest city in the Veluwe, which is the finest area of scenic beauty in the Netherlands. It has a splendid landscape where Paleis Het Loo (Het Loo Palace), the favourite country seat of the Dutch Royal family, De Hoge Veluwe National Park, and the second largest collection of Van Gogh’s artworks assembled by Helene Kröller-Müller can be found.
When asked why there is a need to city market Apeldoorn, Project Week Leader Lucy Omwoha commented, "There are a lot of reasons why we need to city market Apeldoorn. City marketing is a tool used to enhance economic and socio-cultural development. First of all this city has much potential that needs to be communicated to everyone out there. The perception of Apeldoorn not being vibrant must be changed to avoid many young adults moving out of the city once they graduate, in search of more attractive grounds for their careers and family life. They are more attracted to bigger and more cosmopolitan cities like The Hague, Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Utrecht. Because of this, many businesses close due to lack of young professionals and business entrepreneurs.” Omwoha added that the main aim of this project is to strengthen the Apeldoorn brand for loyal residents, as a tribute to them, and for tourists and business investors.
Gementee Apeldoorn (Apeldoorn Municipality) is also actively promoting Apeldoorn, as shown in the 'Werken voor de toekomst!' or 'Working for the future!' poster. The message they sent encompasses everything from work, study, family to tourism and sustainability (translation: Enterprising City, Comfortable family city, Touristy top landscape, Durability, Inclusion - Social Policy and Citizen Participation and Revitalisation).
According to Omwoha, Apeldoorn is aspiring to be a sustainable city. In December 2020, Keolis introduced its fleet of all-electric, zero-emission buses in the provinces of Gelderland serving four medium-size cities, including Apeldoorn. This move is forecast to cut around 16,000 tonnes of CO2 from the country’s environmental footprint per year. In addition, the municipalities of Apeldoorn has partnered with six other municipalities to form a Cleantech Region in an effort to move towards a clean, sustainable economy and society. With more of such efforts underway, promoting Apeldoorn is vital in order to make such vision a reality.
One group comprising Phase 1 students Luke Lightfoot, Atena, Tran Do and Zilan Abdollahi said that there is a need to focus the city marketing to the young adults and their families rather than tourists. According to the group, depending too much on visitors is not wise as they spend relatively little in Apeldoorn, have a relatively large ecological footprint and contribute little to sustainability. The group deduced that the migration of young adults and their families out of the city is because of lack of entertainment or lack of better job opportunities. Hence, there is a need to create more entertainment centres at reasonable prices and to invite more multinationals or large companies to set up bases in Apeldoorn.
Another group made up of Phase 2/3 students, Kia Ces Yvonne Contado, Linh Dang (Victoria), Phuc Tam Nguyen, Blessing Dibie and Heba Sabra decided that the target group for the city marketing of Apeldoorn should the expatriates, i.e. international students, businessmen and professionals. To do that, they believe making Apeldoorn more intercultural and diverse would be necessary so as to enable the easy integration of foreigners with local citizens. This group opined that to attract foreigners or international students to stay in Apeldoorn more information should be provided to them in the English language about living, studying, working and entertainment in the Netherlands, focusing on Apeldoorn especially. They also hope that the website they had created can be an essential bridge to connect foreigners with the local people, who are more experienced and accustomed to life in Apeldoorn.
It was a very educational and illuminating Project Week, according to Project Week’s Coordinator Samantha Birdsall. She said, “Besides all the lessons and skills that are given and practised during this project week - making a website, doing research, working as a team and presenting - students really get to know their study environment. It is one of the main reasons to kick off the academic year with a project week that hits so close to their (temporary) home." Commenting on the return to live lessons, Birdsall added, "It has been amazing to have real live discussions, feedback moments and presentations again. I have missed this interaction for the past 20 months, as my last live Project Week was in December 2019!"
by Hanna Abdelwahab