St. Gallen: Your Complete Guide to a Top Business Event Destination

St. Gallen, located in the heart of Eastern Switzerland, is rapidly emerging as a leader of innovation and entrepreneurship. 

The city has a strategic location with direct transportation links to Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein. It blends its rich historical background with its emerging status as a leading global destination for business events.

Traditional industries like precision engineering and textiles continue to anchor its economic stability. At the same time, St. Gallen is embracing a new identity. This is shaped by cutting-edge research and the fresh dynamism of startups.

This transformation is largely fueled by the collaborative efforts of local institutions. These include: University of St. Gallen, Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences (OST) and the Cantonal Hospital of St. Gallen. These collaboration is bridging the old with the new.

During my visits to St. Gallen in September 2023 and March 2024, the city’s innovative spirit was unmistakable.

St. Gallen is now making significant advancements in sectors such as IT, healthcare, and agriculture. This progress is further fuelled by proactive government initiatives supporting startups.

With an investment strategy aimed at empowering entrepreneurs, the local government is enhancing St. Gallen’s economic landscape. This approach helps the city raise its global standing. It puts St. Gallen on par with top-tier destinations like London and Berlin in attracting global talents and events.

Key industries in the St. Gallen region:

Precision Engineering

St. Gallen and Eastern Switzerland host industries including automotive, machine construction, photonics, plastics and textiles, with significant contributions from the precision engineering sector. Notably, 50% of all Swiss photonics and precision instruments are produced in the region, supported by 2,080 companies employing around 53,000 skilled workers.

Healthcare

Over 20 local institutions have formed the St. Gallen Health network, aiming to make St. Gallen a prime location for healthcare companies. This collaboration also includes conferences and professional events, integrating economy, research, and education.

Agriculture and Food Industry

Driven by SMEs, educational institutions, associations and research facilities, this sector employs over 48,000 skilled workers. The food industry cluster covers the entire supply chain and significantly contributes to Eastern Switzerland’s export growth. Two major events in the sector, OLMA and Tier & Technik are some of the most important on a national scale. 

Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

The ICT sector in St. Gallen is robust, supported by SMEs and academic institutions, employing around 20,000 workers across nearly 2,000 companies. 

St. Gallen excels in application development, cloud computing, IT security, decision intelligence, B2B software, and big data solutions, supported by a network of associations and development facilities with access to a pool of young talent and professionals.

Emergence as a startup hub

In recent years, St. Gallen has notably elevated its status as a startup hub, an achievement typically associated with major cities like London, Lisbon, Berlin, or San Francisco. 

This city demonstrates that even second tier destinations can compete globally through strategic collaborations between academia and industry.

The success of St. Gallen is rooted in the contributions of local institutions such as the University of St. Gallen, Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences (OST), Empa, and the Cantonal Hospital of St. Gallen. These institutions, alongside initiatives in IT education and skilled professionals who are based in the region, drive the city’s innovation.

Recognising the advantages of a robust startup ecosystem, the government of St. Gallen is taking steps to attract new companies and retain startups within the canton. This includes supporting the Startfeld Foundation with financial support to foster growth and innovation.

In line with the ‘Strengthening the Resource Power of the Canton of St. Gallen’ report, the cantonal council has approved the creation of a programme to promote startups and spin-offs, setting the governmental priorities through 2031. For these initiatives, the government is seeking a special loan of approximately 10 million Swiss francs from the cantonal council.

With St. Gallen’s rising profile in multiple industries and its growing popularity as a startup hub, it attracts major events. 

Here are the venues available for hosting events in St. Gallen city and region and that also facilitate innovative events formats and deliver on creating unique experiences for attendees. 

Olma Messen St.Gallen

The largest venue in Eastern Switzerland. 

Its spaces are suitable for exhibitions, parties and ceremonies, congresses and corporate events. The versatile halls offer plenty of options from 500 to 12,000 people. 

The Olma Messen St.Gallen has recently opened a new hall, the St. Galler Kantonalbank Hall, Hall 1, which is one of the most modern exhibition halls in Switzerland and increases its capacity to 12,000 attendees. 

It was officially opened on 2 March 2024. 

The foyer of the new Hall 1. Truck access is possible
Foyer Hall 1 event design example
Hall 1 is the largest column-free event space in Eastern Switzerland, for up to 12,000 people. It can be divided into several rooms and allows for truck access. Parking spaces and public transport are conveniently located nearby

The Mero system on the roof of the St. Galler Kantonalbank Hall makes it unique in the world.

Mero system on the roof of the St. Galler Kantonalbank Hall, taken during START Summit

This innovative and complex system makes the large hall pillar-free, offering exhibitors and organisers great flexibility. This is thanks to the honeycomb-like framework that supports the structure. 

When I first visited in September 2023, the hall was still under construction. When I returned at the end of March 2024, it was hosting one of the biggest events for entrepreneurs in Europe, the START Summit. 

Olma Congress Hall 9. During the START Summit, St. Galler Kantonalbank Hall and Hall 9 were used. The event welcomed 7,000 people. Copyright: Regina Kühne

START Summit was one of the first events to be held in the new St. Galler Kantonalbank Hall

In the absence of any role models, START Summit organisers have set a new standard for the effective use of the space. 

In the next post, I’ll share more examples of their innovative formats. 

For medium size events and conferences, where the Olma Messen might be too big, the Würth Haus Rorschach is a suitable alternative. 

Würth Haus Rorschach

Würth Haus Rorschach stands out as a venue that seamlessly blends business and leisure. 

Located just 15 minutes from St. Gallen in the lakeside city of Rorschach, it offers an alternative to a city center venues thanks to its prime position on Lake Constance. 

View from Würth Haus Rorschach

More than just a place for events, it doubles as an art gallery with about 800 square meters of exhibition space, where regularly changing exhibitions infuse corporate meetings with unique layers of art and culture.

Lobby at Würth Haus Rorschach

You can start your event by arriving at the venue by boat, or add a leisure element to your event with a stand-up paddle boarding session. 

The biggest event hall at the venue, Carmen Würth Hall, for up to 630 people is perfectly sized for mid-sized events, and fills the niche between the capacities of standard hotels and large exhibition halls.

Carmen Würth Hall offers multiple benefits designed to enhance any event:

  • Natural daylight: An expansive window fronts provide the spaces with natural light to enhance attendee focus.
  • Flexible seating: Retractable tiered seating allows for a transformation of the space to suit various types of events, from gala dinners to conferences and concerts. This adaptability ensures flexibility in setup and use.
  • Built-in translation booths: cater to international and regional events.
Carmen Würth Hall. Copyright: Weissengruber & Partner

The venue also has 16 meeting rooms with natural daylight, capable of accommodating groups ranging from 10 to 150 people. With options to use the terrace or host a cocktail reception outdoors, the venue capitalises on its lakeside location, especially when the weather is favourable. 

16 meeting and seminar rooms suitable for events with 10 to 150 participants

Einstein St.Gallen

The third largest conference space in St. Gallen is Einstein St.Gallen with meeting space for up to 400 people. 

Einstein St.Gallen exterior. Copyright: Steve Hadorn

Einstein St.Gallen uniqueness stands with its cultural richness in textile heritage that goes back to 1830.

Originally built in 1830 by the widow of a textile supplier, the building has evolved from a finishing atelier and soup kitchen to an embroidery factory, and finally, in 1983, into a four-star superior hotel.

Expanded in 2003 and further enhanced by the addition of the Einstein Congress in 2009, the hotel now has 113 rooms, two restaurants: Bistro St.Gallen with 14 GaultMillau points and St.Gallen Gourmet with 2 Michelin stars and 18 GaultMillau points and a wine cellar.

Junior Suite at Einstein St.Gallen

Einstein Congress

  • The congress center is the nearest to the train station, within just few walking minutes.  
  • Tower Room on the 5th floor has views of the historic center of St. Gallen, plenty of daylight, and is ideal for business events and social functions.
  • Einstein Congress is connected to the hotel part of Einstein St.Gallen with 113 rooms across various categories so you have the venue, accommodation and catering under one roof. 

The venue has further 14 seminar rooms for smaller events and meetings. 

 Einstein St.Gallen Singenberg/Boardroom for up to 14 people. Copyright: Corinne Kunz
Einstein St.Gallen Buchegg. This seminar room can be used independently or in combination with adjacent rooms. By opening the double doors at the front, it can also connect with the main foyer, creating a space for exhibitions, networking or dining. Max. capacity for 50 people. Copyright: Steve Hadorn
The Tower Room on the 5th floor of Einstein St. Gallen offers stunning views of St. Gallen’s historic center. It is ideal for aperitifs, private dining, meetings, and group work. The room has a capacity of up to 30 people standing and 32 for a banquet. Copyright: Steve Hadorn
Einstein Hall is suitable for concerts, seminars, standing receptions, and gala dinners. It has a maximum capacity of 330 people standing and 240 for a banquet. Copyright: Steve Hadorn

Tailormade Hotel LEO St.Gallen 

Tailormade Hotel LEO St.Gallen is the newest hotel in St. Gallen opened at the end of 2023 with 101 rooms, located right next to the train station. I stayed there during my visit to St. Gallen in March 2024. 

The room has a modern, industrial vibe with plenty of natural daylight. During my visit for the START Summit, despite the long days, I still made sure to fully enjoy the excellent breakfast with barista coffee and also used the co-working space in the lobby after the conference. 

LEO Deluxe King room category at Tailormade Hotel LEO St.Gallen

The hotel also has a small spa area with a hotpot, gym, and sauna.

Relaxation Area at Tailormade Hotel LEO St.Gallen

The hotel also has a 70 sqm event space suitable for workshops, conferences, and meetings.

Event space at Tailormade Hotel LEO St.Gallen for seminars and workshops

Sorell Hotel City Weissenstein

A recent opening since Juli 2020, Sorell Hotel City Weissenstein has 32 spacious rooms and a small 68 sqm event space.

Sorell Hotel City Weissenstein has a nod to local culture and aesthetics. You’ll see it in the lobby and room design with high-quality furniture from Swiss designers. The linen and curtains are from St. Gallen designers. This local flair introduces guests to the destination and its history of the textile industry.

Lobby at Sorell Hotel City Weissenstein incorporating elements of the local textile industry
Superior Double Room at Sorell Hotel City Weissenstein.

It has two rooms with unique textile designs. All rooms are equipped with a backpack for city excursions and a yoga mat for guests to use during their stay.

Hotel Säntispark

With 136 rooms, this is the largest hotel in the region, located in Abtwil, just 20 minutes by bus from St. Gallen train station

Zoo Family Room at Hotel Säntispark: Adventurous jungle and savannah-themed rooms created in collaboration with the nearby Walter Zoo. The rooms can be connected by a door.
Lifestyle Double Room at Hotel Säntispark. Spacious room with a large balcony and Alpine view

The hotel has 640 sqm of event space, with opportunities to take breaks outdoors. It’s an ideal location for combining accommodation and events under one roof, enhanced by the on-site leisure center for wellness.

Guests can choose between Italian cuisine at Ristorante Uliveto or Swiss cuisine at Restaurant Schnabelweid, incorporating regional products from Eastern Switzerland.

A trip to St. Gallen wouldn’t be complete without experiencing a blend of business and leisure, known as bleisure. 

The walkable city allows you to easily explore the old town. You can see landmarks such as the Abbey Cathedral of St. Gallen and the red square.

To explore even more of the region, all hotel guests receive a Mobility Ticket, allowing free use of public transportation in St. Gallen and up to Rorschach on Lake Constance during their stay.

Here are few tips:

  • Walk through the city lounge called red square.
  • Visit the Abbey Cathedral of St Gallen and the Abbey Library. The library is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Go to the Drei Weieren for views of the city all the way to the Bodensee.
Grand Tour of Switzerland stop at Drei Weieren. Enjoy stunning views over the city and the Bodensee from there.

But that’s not all. You can elevate your experience in the region even further with Säntis Mountain and Hotel. 

Säntis Mountain and «Säntis – the Hotel» 

A change of scenery can transform a standard business meeting into an extraordinary experience that leaves a lasting impression on your team and makes them more productive and creative.

Short distance from St. Gallen, Säntis Mountain and «Säntis – the Hotel» is the perfect getaway for a day activity or a conference. 

View from the top, 2,502 meters above sea level in just 10 minutes with the cable car. The trip from the Schwägalp pass to the Säntis is an experience in itself.

Activities

Option 1: Bleisure 

Kick start or conclude your business conference by taking your delegates for a day to Säntis Mountain. This short day trip will allow your delegates to unwind from their busy day-to-day professional lives and make space for new ideas and experiences. 

Grand Tour of Switzerland stop at the Schwägalp pass

There’s a diversity of activities to choose from that can meet different attendee interests.

The Säntis is full of unique stories about its formation and depending on the time of year you can opt for hiking or snow activities, enjoy the view and have lunch at the top of the mountain. 

The culinary experiences are local and you get a full Swiss experience and in summer you can also visit the Schwägalp alpine cheese dairy and try the local Schwägalp cheese.  

Option 2: Business event at the Säntis

For those who prefer to focus strictly on business, «Säntis – the Hotel» provides a setting that fosters creativity and productivity. The tranquil environment of the mountain and the modern facilities of the hotel create a perfect setting and comfort for your business event. 

Facilities & benefits:

Conference spaces: 

«Säntis – the Hotel» offers modern conference rooms with a capacity of up to 72 participants in seminar and 172 in concert. The room is equipped with the latest technology and natural daylight to keep your team energised and engaged.

Seminar Rooms with Alpine Views at «Säntis – the Hotel»

You have the convenience of having 68 rooms at the hotel at the valley station, overlooking the mountains or the forest. 

Standard Double Room at at «Säntis – the Hotel». They are oriented towards Weidwald or the mountain side. This room is oriented towards the forest Weidwald
Room is oriented towards the mountain

The event location on top of Säntis Mountain provides stunning views across six countries: Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, France, and Italy, offering a constant visual reminder of the heights your team can achieve. 

Seminar space Churfirstenblick on the Säntis mountain at 2502 meters above sea level has the capacity for up to 72 people, and the Panorama Restaurant has 180 seats.  

Event rooms at the summit of Säntis, Churfirstenblick room

Very unique experiences 

You can organise exclusive and very unique experiences, for example, booking a private cable car ride for an Apéro, to watch the sunset over the Alps—an unforgettable way to conclude an event and celebrate your team. 

Services of the St. Gallen Convention Bureau

This itinerary was designed by the St. Gallen Convention Bureau to showcase the wide range of venues and event possibilities available in the region.

By working with the St. Gallen Convention Bureau, event planners benefit from having a single point of contact for all venue needs, saving time and effort.

Their local network extends beyond locations to include service providers, administrative offices, and educational institutions. 

Additionally, the St. Gallen Convention Bureau offers personalised consultation and recommendations for venues and hotels tailored to specific event requirements. 

Best of all, this valuable support is provided free of charge.

Conclusions 

Recent developments in St. Gallen, including the city’s investment in the startup ecosystem and the opening of the new St. Galler Kantonalbank Hall, have elevated its status to attract bigger and global events. 

The city offers modern venues and hotels, unique leisure opportunities, and the convenience of a free Mobility Ticket for public transportation.

The St. Gallen Convention Bureau supports event planners with a single point of contact, an extensive local network, and free, personalised consultation services.

St. Gallen’s commitment to fostering a dynamic and supportive environment for industries and startups ensures it remains a competitive and attractive choice for global business events. 

Header photo: Stiftsbezirk St.Gallen, Copyright Switzerland Tourism / Jan Geerk

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