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Interview with the Vienna Convention Bureau

January 9, 2017

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Overlooking the Danube

IMAGE: WienTourismus/Christian Stemper

Vienna has just been named the world’s best city to live in; according the the Mercer Quality of Living Index. But what is it like to hold a meeting there?
Sustain Europe caught up with the Vienna Convention Bureau to try and find out.

 

2015 was another record year for Vienna as a meeting destination. In your opinion, what differentiates Vienna as a meetings destination and makes it attractive to the MICE industry?

 

There are various elements contributing to the success of Vienna. First and foremost it is the infrastructure we can offer, Vienna is easily accessible, well connected, providing an excellent public transport system for participants (which also supports our green meeting initiatives). A large variety of hotel rooms in the city (33.730 hotel rooms within the city limits) - most of them excellently connected to the public transport system. And hotels also understand the specifics of the meeting participants and understand the long term planning circle for international association meetings. An excellent meeting infrastructure with three conference centres and more than 100 other venues like meeting hotels, palaces, museums, modern venues and also very special venues.

 

And last but not least the Convention Bureau, one of the key assets is the long standing continuity of staff, on average the team of the Vienna Convention Bureau is now together for more than 11 years, which builds confidence, credibility and trust between our clients and our team.

 

The Vienna Convention Bureau is a licensee of the Austrian Eco-label “Green Meetings and Green Events”. Do you see an increasing trend towards the adoption of sustainable meeting practices by conference organisers?

 

In general, the number of licensees and the certified products and services increases by 10 % annually. The Austrian Eco-label covers with 61 policies a large variety of ecologically relevant areas, which also includes the eco-label Guidelines 62 for “Green Meetings and Green Events”.*

 

The amount of certified “Green Meetings and Green Events” in Vienna is definitely increasing as it can be seen on the graphic below. When the Eco-label Guidelines for “Green Meeting and Green Events” were first established in 2010 only national meeting planners engaged with them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However it is becoming internationally more recognised and even conference organisers who are planning events with more than 1000 delegates are considering implementing sustainable meeting practices when they hold a congress in Vienna. Vienna has the perfect infrastructure for Green Meeting and Events – we have many hotels certified with the Austrian Eco-label, the city is easily accessible by public transportation, bike or on foot, regional and seasonal food has a high status and waste separation happens automatically. We definitely believe that this trend will continue to grow and hope that one day every meeting that takes place in Vienna will be organised according to the Eco-label guidelines.

 

What are your top tips for those looking to organise a green meeting?

 

We have created a checklist for conference organisers to easily implement sustainable measurements. This checklist gives a good overview for organisers, who are considering planning a green meeting:

 

Fast and easy to the meeting venue/safe (green) travels:

 

  • Can you and your participants imagine offsetting carbon emissions when flying to the destination?

  • Is the meeting venue easily accessible by public transport and are your participants ready to use a city bike to get there?

  • Are the participants sufficiently informed about the above mentioned possibilities?

 

Sleep green/well:

 

  • Are there any hotels in walking distance to your meeting venue that are certified with the Austrian Eco-label?

  • Are the hotels you’re working with well-informed about environmental strategies?

 

Meet green/Let’s meet up:

 

  • Is the meeting venue a certified green venue according to the Austrian Eco-label guidelines?

  • Do they have an environmental strategy?

 

No waste more fun:

 

  • Do you avoid waste by using glasses and cutlery rather than plastic cups and plates?

  • Are you trying to reduce printed conference materials or do you print on recycling paper?

  • Do you use reusable name badges?

  • Are your give-aways made out of recyclable materials?

 

Healthy brain food:

 

  • Is your catering partner certified with the Austrian Eco-label?

  • Does the caterer offer Viennese tab water that is coming directly from the Alps?

  • Do they prepare regional food and drinks as well as typical Viennese dishes?

  • Do they avoid waste and tableware?

 

Be green be social:

 

  • Is there a balanced ratio of male and female speakers?

  • Do you have specific offers for students?

  • Does the social programme include a regional cultural offer?

  • How do you support participants with disabilities?

 

The Vienna Convention Bureau recently became Europe’s most decorated convention bureau, with no less than eight of your employees receiving Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) status. Can you please tell us a bit more about how you intend to build on this success in the coming years?

 

The Meetings Industry is changing permanently, things are not stable but dynamic and it is key that our team of the Vienna Convention Bureau also develops further and remains up to date with the market changes. CMP qualification is one key element to help prove to our clients that we are investing in knowledge and know-how of our staff, which goes even beyond CMP certification but also includes attending specialized conferences where you can learn and educate.

 

How do you see the future of business tourism in Vienna?

 

If we relate to the Meetings Industry, that’s where a Convention Bureau can be active (individual business tourism is not our target) and the more focused on client’s needs and client expectations we are, the better it will be for the destination. With the infrastructure we have and the ongoing investments also in the city we are confident that Vienna will remain a top player in the global Meetings Industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*The Eco-label Guideline 62 “Green Meetings and Green Events“ sets environmental and social standards for the event-organising enterprise as well as for all individual aspects of a meeting. Each organizer needs a licensee for the certification of the meeting. This licensee is accountable for the compliance with the criteria and the pertinent documentation. The Vienna Convention Bureau is one of them. A green meeting is characterized by increased power efficiency, waste reduction and environmentally friendly arrival and departure of the delegates.

 

 

To find out more about the Vienna Convention Bureau, please visit

 

www.vienna.convention.at

 

 

 

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