Trade show stand becomes recruitment machine

DOOR - World Horti Center

DOOR, one of the largest growers’ cooperatives in the Westland region, is used to showing fresh produce at trade shows in the Netherlands and abroad. But how does that translate to the challenge of organizing a permanent presentation at the World Horti Center? A trade show usually lasts no longer than a week: fruit and veg stay good that long, but bringing in a fresh weekly supply to stock a permanent stand is simply not an option.

As usual, we started with a strategic kick-off, involving all stakeholders: management, marketing and communication, HR and business development. Less conventional on our part was the decision to involve our partner and youth communication specialists DST. That quickly proved to be a smart move and before long the inspired idea of a long-term recruitment campaign was born.

The growers’ proposition in terms of challenging jobs, internships and graduation assignments has consistently failed to make enough impact on the employment market. Younger people in particular, who are studying or looking for work, often remain unaware of the opportunities on offer or only have a limited idea of what they entail. Job vacancies often discourage them unintentionally by listing requirements that seem too far removed from job seekers’ own experience. DST’s input proved to be of enormous value in this respect. Drawing on their daily experience with young people, they were not only able to make incisive contributions in terms of content and game development, but could also test ideas in relation to real-life expectations with the help of a youth panel.

This led us to select a low-threshold question and answer game, which tells players which competencies suit them. Once a player has found their competency – as a ‘connector’ for example – they can then watch an interview with someone who earns their living in that area. The professions have been carefully selected and steer clear of stereotypes. Everyone knows you can earn money picking tomatoes in Westland, but very few people know how those same tomatoes find their way to the supermarket and consumer. That process calls for individuals with exciting professions, who are gifted at ‘connecting people’, for example.

The World Horti Center in Naaldwijk is a household name in the world of greenhouse horticulture, both in the Netherlands and beyond. It is a lively place where education, research, entrepreneurs, companies and buyers come together. It is home to a Regional Training Centre (ROC), a greenhouse full of innovative demos (e.g. robotics), two floors of trade show stands and excellent meeting and presentation facilities. Visitor programming is also designed to reflect DOOR’s presentation, with school supervisors playing a prominent role. 

The entire development process was also an outstanding example of co-creation, in which DOOR and Beewan collaborated not only with each other but also with external parties for film content, graphic design and online platform development (Boerenjongens). WHC’s management gave the stand a much better location than planned, which significantly improved traffic. In the construction phase too, our suppliers Provision, JMT Floorcoverings and Jac van der Veen proved their worth as creative contributors to the overall concept.