Business travel differentiates itself from leisure travel because it offers the delegates a unique experience they won’t get elsewhere. The delegates will have the opportunity to visit exclusive venues, meet local key figures in economy, sports or entertainment and have VIP experiences at the destination. Many travellers might not not even consider travelling to a certain destination for leisure, but after they visit for business and have this exclusive experience they are likely to come back for leisure.
The recent Meeting Trophy event organised by the Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau demonstrated how Switzerland can help planners achieve their event objectives and what Switzerland has to offer for MICE. The Meeting Trophy event now was in its 13th year and is a well tested and established concept that encompasses all the elements of a successful event: planners visit multiple Swiss MICE destinations and discover unique opportunities for corporate events, learn about key economic sectors, get insights into Swiss history, culture and traditions.
During the four days in Switzerland we visited four MICE destinations, including Schaffhausen, Flims Laax Falera, St. Gallen and Zurich. I learned and discovered new things about this wonderful country and its business tourism sector, let me tell you more about it in this post.
Authenticity and local culture
The savvy business travellers are familiar with major cities, so to make your event stand out it’s recommended to add a local and authentic element to the event. This can be a traditional dinner, learning a local craft or meeting with the locals. During the Meeting Trophy we had several such encounters. Firstly in St. Gallen, famous for the textile industry, we visited the St. Gallen Textile Museum to learn about the history of this important economic sector for the city and saw how the patterns are produced by hand.
Secondly, in Flims, we were taken by ski lifts to the local mountain to experience a Swiss traditional dinner at Restaurant Berghaus Foppa. We were greeted by Swiss Alphorn musicians on arrival and enjoyed Swiss specialties from the region in a traditional Alpine Hut restaurant.
Ease of using public transport
In Switzerland it’s easy and reliable to use the public transport. Trains will get you into the city centre and two major airports, Zurich and Geneva are within less than 30 minutes by public transport from the city centre. If your event will require your delegates to travel throughout Switzerland during entire event duration, then consider getting them The Swiss Travel Pass. It’s a single ticket available for 3, 4, 8 or 15 days and is valid for train, bus and boat. Furthermore, the ticket provides free admission to over 500 museums and 50% discount on mountain railways. If you want to save your delegates the hustle of transporting luggage, from this year an express luggage service is available for groups from 10 – 50 people travelling throughout Switzerland by public transport.
Throughout our trip we used multiple means of transport, these included train, bus, boat, tram, car and a ski lift! Each journey was an experience in itself as we travelled between destinations and enjoyed seeing the mountainous and green scenery and the crystal clear lakes.
Want to use your time efficiently? There are also options to exclusively hire a train, boat or tram and use it for the purpose of your event, be it a business presentation, aperitif or a networking exercise.
Want to surprise your delegates? Then why not hire The Red Arrow Churchill train. For up to 110 delegates it can meet you at one of the train stations and transport to the end destination while your delegates have refreshments on board or visit driver’s cab and watch him at work.
Public transport brings us to the next point – sustainability, and by travelling to and from the event and making public transport part of the event, planners can make their events more sustainable and save costs.
Keep a surprise element
Even though event planners are always organised and want to ensure smooth communication with the delegates by providing as much information as possible up front, it can be a good idea to keep a small surprise element. The Red Arrow Churchill train, for example, was a surprise when we first saw it, because we were told that we’re waiting for a train. But this wasn’t just a train! Another surprise was when our private tram in Zurich arrived to take us to the evening location. These are small details but add a surprise element because of their exclusivity and therefore increase the memorability of the event.
Support from local stakeholders
Back when I was a student, I remember our Destination Management Class. Our teacher brought us two destination proposals. Both destinations pitched for a big congress and we had to analyze them. Both were very detailed with the usual key information regarding accessibility, venue capacity, social programmes etc. But one stood out more than the other because it had a welcome message from The City Mayor. I always remembered this lecture and the importance of having the support of local stakeholders when they want to win a major event.
This time, I had the chance to see it myself. World class destinations understand the importance of involving all the local stakeholders in winning a congress and ensuring that the delegates feel welcome. On our stop in St. Gallen we were greeted by Thomas Scheitlin, Mayor of St. Gallen and he shared with us interesting insights about its history and economy. A small gestures from local politicians or key economic figures can make a big difference in the way outsiders view and perceive the event destination.
Switzerland is a country that can offer an added value to your event because it has the lowest VAT rates in Europe. Furthermore, some hotels at certain destinations, such as in Bern for example, offer free public transport as part of your stay. Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau also offers a free of charge impartial advice for your event, by assisting with providing partner contacts, making introductions and advising on best solution.
Last but not least, we are not only in the business of events, but also of creating emotions and experiences. To deliver a lifetime experience that lives long after the event is over we need to bring in a mix of elements that make a successful event formula. In Switzerland you can incorporate the local culture and authentic experience, show that taking a public transport can be easy, fun and more sustainable, don’t reveal all event programme up front and keep a little surprise element, show that local stakeholders support the event, know where and how you can get added value when hosting your event in Switzerland and let the professionalism stand out at all interaction points with the customer.
The Meeting Trophy trip was sponsored by Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau. You can contact Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau in the following ways:
Contact person: Helena Videtic
Tel.: +49 (0)69 25 60 01 43