Small but mighty: incentive destination Interlaken, Switzerland   

The Swiss resort Interlaken is a prime destination for congresses, exhibitions, meetings and of course, incentive travel. Incentives are a unique aspect of MICE (Meeting, Incentive Travel, Conferences and Exhibitions) travel because they can be customised to the tastes of the client and are highly exclusive. On a visit to Interlaken in April, I had the pleasure of interviewing Camilla Struben, Team Leader MICE at Congress Kursaal Interlaken, about why Interlaken is the perfect destination for incentive travel. Camilla shared the variety of possibilities for incentives in Interlaken and how the Congress Kursaal Interlaken can support event planners for organisations.

Interlaken caters for different group sizes and requirements and offers a variety of programmes for incentives, ranging from adventures to luxurious activities. The destination provides access to privatise hotels and venues, surrounded by beautiful lakes and mountains. The availability of customisable programmes and the natural environment makes it an extraordinary experience.  

Even though Interlaken is small, it has many possibilities. There are more than 30 hotels and a variety of venues, including the Kursaal Interlaken. There are rooms for more than 1,000 people. As the adventure capital of Switzerland, it is centrally located with easy access by train.

This interview will showcase the destination and what activities can be organised for corporate groups.  

Participant experience design — moving from the old to new event world

One of the presentations that highly inspired me to think differently about event design took place in 2019 at the MICE Forum at ITB Berlin (Organised by VDVO). Even after all these years, and a pandemic in between, these principles remain extremely important when we want to create a seamless attendee experience at events, be it live, virtual or hybrid, and put the human in the centre. I want to re-share this article that I wrote back in 2019 and was initially published on VDVO website, because the principles of event design remain the same, the human is in the centre of every experience that we want to design for our events and technology should enhance this experience, and not replace it.

In 2019 the ITB MICE Forum theme was ‘The Human Factor’. The conference programme was designed to highlight the importance of the individual who is the centre of every live event. In the connected world we live in today, the personal needs of each attendee have become even more important, and technology should enhance this experience, and not replace it. One of the talks that impressed me the most was ‘Participant experience design – how do we create meetings which move people more deeply?’ given by Felix Rundel, Co-founder, futurehain (at the time of the presentation Executive Director of Falling Walls).

SwissSkills Bern 2022 – Shaping the future for young people 

Over 60 percent of young adults in Switzerland choose vocational training or apprenticeship over an academic path. This is an important economic factor that affects a country’s competitiveness in terms of the labour market and low unemployment rate, which in Switzerland is at about 4 percent.  

SwissSkills is an agency focused on promoting the vocational education system in Switzerland. Its goal is to demonstrate the benefits of apprenticeship in Switzerland and to showcase a wide range of professions to young people who are interested in pursuing a career path that enables on-the-job learning. 

SwissSkills organises a biannual event which will take place this year from 7 to 11 September at the Bern Expo in Bern. The experiential event format will showcase 150 professions and will allow attendees to engage directly with the employers and ask questions of current apprentices in the programmes. 

Vocational training is common in many countries around the world. The EuroSkills and WorldSkills events are two global events in which young people compete to showcase their skills and win gold medals for their countries. These events are important to promote the variety of career paths available to young adults and also to support them in identifying and integrating the new skills required by the job market today, such as digital skills. 

I interviewed André Burri, General Manager of SwissSkills, about the event this year and the uniqueness of the vocational training and apprenticeship system in Switzerland. We also discussed why Bern is the perfect destination to host an event of such scale and importance. 

Confident planning strategies for the return of incentive travel 

Incentives are the most exciting part of the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibition) business. The most vivid pre-COVID memories that I have of incentive trips are from experiencing destinations where I got to know their hidden gems, interact with locals and learn about their craft or their culture, and network with other participants. Memories and experiences that are created at a destination outlive any other type or event and experience; for me at least. 

The return of incentive travel has given clients the opportunity to book these trips with confidence. I had the pleasure of interviewing an industry leader who specialises in incentive travel and has a wide portfolio of national and international customers – Silvia Ganser, Director of Frankfurt-based 42 Incentives (which is part of the VOK DAMS Group). The past two years haven’t been easy for 42 Incentives and for many other companies in the events business. And now with live events returning and many companies rescheduling events which had been postponed in 2020, 2021 and 2022, and planning for 2023, this timely interview focuses on providing tips on how to plan an incentive trip with confidence, and with safety protocols built into it. The interview took place in Bern at Hotel Kreuz, and Silvia joined remotely from Frankfurt. 

Back to LIVE and the road ahead

Good news for the events industry – live events are back, as most countries no longer have strict COVID-19 restrictions. Event planners who have been out of work for two years can now be back on the road doing what they love and taking their creativity to the next level.

Two years of pandemic restrictions have taught the events industry that it’s resilient. Returning to live events in 2022 requires rethinking and adjusting old practices, and in this interview with Colja Dams, CEO and owner at VOK DAMS and Natasha Russell, Event Director at NR Events, I asked what’s different now and what companies should know and consider when returning to in person events, and whether there’s still room for virtual and hybrid event formats. 

Natasha and Colja are based in the UK and Germany respectively, and it was important to hear the different perspectives on how ready the markets are for live events.