From 29 June until 2 July 2017 I was in Switzerland for the Meeting Trophy event organised by the Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau. In its 13th edition now, the yearly Meeting Trophy brings together international event professionals to compete in a series of tasks. These include both knowledge questions and sports activities with the aim of getting to know the different MICE destinations, as well as Switzerland’s history, traditions and culture.
This year, the event focused on the Eastern part of Switzerland, including Schaffhausen, St. Gallen, Flims – Laax – Falera and Zurich. Total of 8 teams and around 90 participants took part to compete for the coveted trophy. The teams were from North America, Belgium, Netherlands, Great Britain, France, Nordic Countries, Russia and my team, Germany.
Looking at the programme I knew some of the destinations because I lived in Switzerland for five years. And some locations I even visited myself. But I didn’t let it destruct my excitement and was open to new experiences. Luckily the organisers didn’t reveal the entire programme upfront and there were several surprises to expect!
Day 1 – Zurich and Schaffhausen
I chose to travel to Switzerland by train and my journey from Heidelberg to Zurich took me only 3.5 hours. Our first Team Germany meeting took place at the 25Hours Hotel in Zurich Langstrasse. This hotel is one of the latest openings in Zurich and opened only three months ago. It has 170 guest rooms and meetings spaces for up to 60 people theatre style and 50 for conference.
The hotel offers its own distinctive and artistic universe. It blends the notorious history of the Langstrasse as the red light district with the now entrepreneurial, multi – cultural and business clientele who likes its unconventional and trendy design.
We had lunch at the hotel’s restaurant, Neni. They offer the concept of sharing dishes and blend Persian, Arabic, Moroccan, Israeli and Turkish cuisines.
After lunch we took our train connection to Schaffhausen, our first official stop on the trip. Switzerland has a very efficient transport system, so most of our trip we commuted between the destinations by public transport. Furthermore, we used many different means of transport.
In less than an hour we were in Schaffhausen and checked into our hotel Arcona Living, located just 5 minutes’ walk from the train station. It opened in 2014 and has 112 rooms, 12 services apartments and six Grand Suits. Furthermore, its seven conference rooms can accommodate up to 220 people.
Our welcome night, where we were about to meet all the teams took place at a beautiful waterfront location Güterhof. The versatile venue is a restaurant, sushi bar, cocktail & lounge, has a terrace and suitable for banquets from 80 – 400 people.
The introductory evening included team presentations by all the countries. Each team had to choose a theme or an animal and we, Team Germany, choose the Fish as the symbol of the Rhine River. With the motto “with our collective intelligence we’ll blow the other teams out of the water” we were very determined to win the Trophy!
It was an informal evening for everyone to get to know each other and relax from the journey. The next day we were to begin with the activities.
Day 2 – Schaffhausen, St. Gallen and Flims
Schaffhausen is famous for the Rhine Falls so to get the full experience, we kicked off the second day with a breakfast at Schloss Laufen, offering beautiful views of the waterfalls. After the breakfast we stayed on the castle premises and took part in the different activities, before descending closer to the waterfalls to admire their beauty, until our train arrived to take us to St. Gallen.
But it wasn’t just a train, it was The Red Arrow Churchill train. It got its name because the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill travelled through Switzerland on this train in 1946.
The Red Arrow Churchill was privately hired for us and perfectly fitted our group size. The train has 27 tables for four and one table for three, overall able to fit 110 guests. With big panoramic windows to admire the beautiful landscape and light refreshments we enjoyed our trip to St. Gallen.
We arrived in St. Gallen for lunch time and had a warm and traditional welcome at the Schlössli restaurant. The long table outside was certainly a WOW factor when we arrived. When we were seated we were greeted by Thomas Scheitlin, Mayor of St. Gallen. I was greatly impressed by his gesture to welcome international event planners visiting his city. It showcased how important the MICE industry is for the city and how the local stakeholders are supporting it.
After this power lunch we were off to continue our team activities across the city in teams.
We visited Hotel Einstein St. Gallen. This hotel is the most central with 113 rooms and 14 seminar rooms and its biggest room Einstein Event Hall is for up to 400 guests (or 240 for banquet).
We also visited the Abbey Library of St. Gallen, the oldest library in Switzerland with 170,000 books and 2,000 manuscripts from the middle ages. It’s not an event location but perfect for group tours, lasting from 30 – 50 minutes.
Our next stop was the famous St. Gallen Textile Museum. Famous public figures ordered their fabrics and dresses there and held exclusivity for the patterns and designs. The Museum is also an event venue, suitable for receptions or conferences. The Lounge can accommodate up to 100 guests, concert hall seating, and the Textile Library up to 50 guests for a standing reception. Due to conservation reasons only cold food may be served at the venue. Additionally, it will be recommended to book a guided tour to learn more about the textile industry, so important for St. Gallen.
The diversification of our modes of transport continued with another surprise – rented cars from Europcar to send us on the Grand Tour of Switzerland on the way to Flims. This journey with scenic views was a unique experience I won’t be able to describe in words. One has to experience it! It can be a perfect activity for a car launch event, but also for an incentive of almost every size. Cars are suitable for 3-4 passengers and the process of getting the key and setting off on the road is quick and seamless.
And so we arrived in style in Flims and checked into our hotel, Waldhaus Flims Apline Grand Hotel & Spa. The three mountain destinations Flims Laax Falera are grouped under one marketing umbrella to strengthen the regional MICE offering with accommodation and activities. The mountain destination is suitable for both winter and summer activities.
The hotel has 143 rooms and 12 meeting and conference rooms, with the biggest Belle Epoque Pavilion for up to 330 people for a banquet.
After short downtime we headed for our special traditional Swiss dinner in the mountains. This time the mode of transport was a ski lift that took us up to Restaurant Berghaus Foppa. We were greeted by the Swiss Alphorn musicians and fondue on the panoramic terrace before having a three course traditional dinner. The venue can accommodate up to 140 people inside and 240 outside.
Day 3 – Flims and Zurich
We had an early start the following day with individual breakfast at the hotel before a guided tour of the conference facilities.
Afterwards we started with team activities organised by the local Outdoor Training Academy. We started with activities at the hotel before taking a short hike to the beautiful Lake Cauma. It will be hard to describe in words, you need to see by yourself its beauty and experience its magic!
By 9am we were already en route to the bus station to take the PostBus to Chur train station and from there to take the train to Thalwil. The PostBus is a leading public bus company in Switzerland with national network and another great example how we took advantage of the efficient Swiss public transport system.
Arriving in Thalwil on Lake Zurich we took the boat to Zurich and once again enjoyed the beautiful Swiss scenery of this region. We had refreshments on board, cakes and coffee, and used this time to relax or network with peers.
Zurich was our last stop on the Meeting Trophy competition, and last set of activities awaited us in the Old Town. When completed, we took the tram to our hotel to get ready for the farewell evening at a surprise location.
We stayed at the Renaissance Zurich Tower Hotel in the West quarter, about 15 minutes from the city centre by tram. The hotel has 300 rooms and the largest event space, Ballroom Helvetia AB, has capacity for up to 230 guests for a banquet.
Never stop surprising, the organisers had one more way to showcase how to transport delegates in a sustainable way. We had an exclusive hire of a public tram to take us to the venue. On the way we picked up all the delegates staying in the different hotels.
We arrived to the Seerestaurant Quai 61, a stunning location on the lakeside. We had an aperitif on the panoramic terrace before moving to the indoor restaurant for a three course dinner. The total capacity is up to 200 guests.
You are probably eager to know who won the coveted trophy! Congratulations to Team France, winners of Meeting Trophy 2017!
After the announcement the big party started, with a saxophonist and DJ doing a live mix. They ensured to get everyone on the dance floor and provided a great atmosphere to celebrate our team efforts. What a great way to finish three busy but exciting and fulfilling days in Switzerland.
Day 4 – Zurich
But before heading home, we had one last stop, the FIFA World Football Museum. For football fans and non-fans alike, it’s a modern, state of the art venue for events. The museum has event capacity for up to 120 delegates theatre style and 65 banquet.
We had a Sunday Brunch there, last opportunity to enjoy the company of our team members and share the many experiences we had over the last few days.
Then it was the bitter sweet moment of saying goodbye to everyone and heading home. Even though I lived in Switzerland for five years, I was again amazed by its natural treasures, high level of professionalism and efficiency.
All countries demonstrated an excellent team spirit and team work and we all came back home with new friends, unique experiences and memories, knowledge and expertise of Switzerland we can share with our clients. Thank you everyone for the fantastic time and Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau for this opportunity.
This trip was sponsored by Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau. You can contact Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau in the following ways: