Every six years the Netherlands Quality Agency (NQA) reviews research departments to see if it meets all criteria. This is an external, international evaluation panel which meets with the Executive Board, management teams, lectures and students, among other groups. In this way the panel gets a clear view of the research departments' operation. An excellent rating is achieved when your research is highly relevant to the industry and of a high scientific quality.
The Academy for Leisure & Events (ALE)'s students, lecturers and researchers develop academic and applied knowledge and devise new concepts for the comparatively novel leisure industry, focusing on two main themes: Experiences & Storytelling and Placemaking & Events. ALE has a so-called Experience Lab which uses innovative behavioural and neuroscientific tools to measure, evaluate and optimise experiences.
Brain research to measure emotions
During an experience (a vacation, a visit to an amusement park or museum) various emotions are experienced. The flow of these emotions (from strong to weak) is a factor which contributes to the way in which people will remember this experience. When there is no emotional connection to an experience, it will most likely be quickly forgotten. In order to measure emotions, the Experience Lab's state of the art research methods are used, such as EEG brain scans and measuring heart rate and skin conductivity. In doctoral research it is investigated how emotions exactly contribute to retaining experiences. This is demonstrated in the following projects, among others.
One of the research projects carried out by ALE was for three Van Gogh Brabant visitor centres. Videos were created about Vincent van Gogh's life in Brabant. Two videos state simple factual information and two videos were targeting emotions using storytelling techniques. Research on how the experience of the two kinds of video differed was carried out using brain research, questionnaires and recollection interviews. The videos using storytelling lead to more recollections and were stored in people’s memory in greater detail then the videos not using storytelling. This provides the visitor centres with important information which they can use to adapt their product.
The Marquise's secret
For the renovation of The Markiezenhof in Bergen op Zoom tree style rooms were refurbished based on Marquise Marie Anne van Arenberg's authentic story. This Marquise's life was full of secrets, among which a secret marriage far below her social standing, which even led to her being ousted from her family. By researching the various ways of storytelling and the visitors' experience based on the measurement of their emotions, a clearer understanding of their 'total experience' was gained. As the visitors now pass through The Markiezenhof's style rooms, they interact with the storylines which really makes them feel a part of the history.
Furthermore ALE is currently researching carnival's role in modern society. This research started a few years ago in Brazil and now continues in The Netherlands. 2021 is an interesting year for this research project, because the festivities could not take place in the traditional sense due to Covid-19. Next to that a research project about the city of Den Bosch and its relation to the painter Jeroen Bosch, who was born and passed away in this city recently concluded.