All room for growth (and flowering)

Keukenhof is the international and independent showcase of Dutch ornamental plant cultivation, with an emphasis on bulbous flowers. In eight weeks time Keukenhof shows what Dutch ornamental plant cultivation has to offer. In the park, the emphasis is on the 7 million spring-flowering bulbs, with 100 entrants showing their living catalogue. In more than 20 flower shows, 500 flower growers present cut flowers and pot plants in all their variety.

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The question

Keukenhof is working on a digital presence. This includes a modern website that can grow as easily as the bulbs in the park. Or it can be trimmed as desired. And which digital solutions and possibilities are actually even more interesting for the spring park?

The challenge

Approximately ten weeks a year, the online platform has to cope with enormous crowds. This requires a flexible website with customizable functions. Moreover, it had to be completed within four months, in time for the annual opening. But Keukenhof wants a lot more in the future. What does it recommendRedkiwi?

#worldofcolours #jardins #thisisholland

If you say Holland, you say tulips. And if you say tulips, Keukenhof will come right behind you. The Lissen Spring Park is open about eight weeks a year, when the seven million tulip bulbs come into bloom. That's when it has to happen. And it happens: the sea of flowers is hugely popular internationally, eighty percent of visitors come from abroad and Keukenhof is the number one Dutch attraction mentioned on Instagram. In 2019, the park attracted a record number of one and a half million visitors. It is striking that young Dutch people know the park less well. So there are good opportunities there.

Talk about great opportunities: the previous website of Keukenhof existed for 20 years and was mainly informative. Kiwiconsultant Catherina Bostantzis says: "It turned out fine, but as developers we know better than anyone that in 20 years a lot will change in the digital playing field. When Redkiwi asked to do a pitch for a new website, we went all out in exploring the options. Inspiring and stimulating, that's what we wanted. With the budget in mind, we drew up all kinds of options to develop a website that Keukenhof could develop in phases.

"For the applicants, it was extremely important that the website could be arranged flexibly, with functions that could be switched on or off during the opening or closing season. This means that when the park is closed there is only history and park information to be seen. Note: without suddenly having empty areas in the design or the site being completely out of balance in terms of design. At the end of January, the button may be turned around and you should be able to find ticket sales, a map, a pressure gauge, an agenda, news items and a dynamic map. The strict requirement was that no changes would be made to the site from the go live and that the site would not be out of the air for a second. Mid-March to mid-May is a sacred period and the 60,000 daily website visitors should not be bothered by the crowds. Not even in the middle of the night, because in Australia they have other hours".

Virtual Visits

The assignment was given Redkiwi in September, and, as account manager Edwin Plag explains: "In January, Keukenhof's new website was completed. We added the option of running the website eight months a year on a light server load and scaling up capacity the four months before, during and after the opening. This ensures that the website can easily handle the explosive growth in visitor numbers, but Keukenhof doesn't pay for it all year round. The intuitive design speaks for itself, visitors do not have to search. Not even the language button: prominent at the top is the choice of four languages that are easy to find".

"The Keukenhof website is built in user-friendly WordPress. It allowed Keukenhof employees, after a training courseRedkiwi, to fill in content and manage functions themselves.

We helped think along with visitor-centric content and SEO optimisation". After the festive go live, the first results were very promising. The performance was better than previous years and ticket sales were also ahead of the curve. However, the attentive reader already felt the mood hanging in the air. Just before the grand opening, the corona pandemic struck and the Keukenhof was not allowed to open. From one and a half million to zero visitors. An enormous blow to the park, not least in budgetary terms. The employees had to make another switch: functions out, important information about regulations in it, and options to return the ticket they had purchased. Depending on the circumstances, Keukenhof makes the best of it, with virtual visits, drone videos, a digital magazine and regular updates. With 23 million website visits in 8 weeks, those are not bad results after all.

Edwin: "Many plans for the future are now on the shelf. But with a view to the future, we had already built a headless CMS parallel to the WordPress site by the end of 2019. This is ready to function as a progressive web app (PWA) in the future. With this, future visitors to Keukenhof will not have to download a special Keukenhof app from the app store, but will still be able to enjoy all the conveniences and user-friendliness of an app via a link to the website on their homescreen. For example: locations on the dynamic map so that the nearest disabled toilet can be found immediately. Or a notification when the boat or bus leaves. Push notifications are also possible if a child is lost, with descriptions and all. Especially for day trippers and foreign tourists, a PWA is an ideal option. And especially in the light of the pandemic, a PWA offers interesting possibilities. For example, with timers for the time slots, extra safety information and local pressure gauges". These digital spheres are ready to blossom in full splendour for the visitors of 2021.

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