Browsing Tag

Switzerland

Buyer and supplier relationship – the decision making process (part 1)

There is a lot of confusion about what the role of a Convention Bureau is, how to best approach them and work with them. In this month’s #EventPlannersTalk live event we were joined by Livio Goetz, Manager UK & Ireland at Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau (SCIB) to give an overview about his role representing Switzerland oversees, their challenges and opportunities for event planners. The presentation followed by a panel discussion about the evolving relationship between buyers and suppliers and the decision making process.

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Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau is a marketing organisation and part of Switzerland Tourism Board. They help buyers to find destinations and venues in Switzerland or assist with finalising details of booked events, providing contact details or additional ideas. Planners who are pitching the destination to clients can request texts and images for free. Other services include site-inspections, arranging itineraries for site visits and travel bookings (through close collaboration with the national airline and national rail). Providing this range of services, the CVB is an intermediary rather than a DMC or an agency.

But there are few challenges SCIB is facing.

Exchange rates

Over the last two years the exchange rate to pound has been volatile and therefore it’s unknown how the pound will be at the time of the event. While it’s not a major challenge, it’s recommended bringing it to clients’ attention.

Relationship with local partners

As an intermediary, CVB is the first point of contact for clients who want to plan an event in Switzerland. The challenge is that the response time might be longer because there are many parties involved (Venues, hotels, restaurants etc.).

Positioning

Destinations within a destination (E.g. – in Switzerland there are 21 partner destinations) have different positioning and some prefer targeting association business and large congresses, while smaller destination will prefer to target small meetings and incentive. In such case, it can be a challenge to sell small-medium size events in certain destinations whose focus is on large scale events.

Short lead times

Lead times can be as short as 24h, putting enormous pressure on agencies and CVBs. CVBs who have representatives oversees usually have small teams of 2-3 representatives and don’t have the capacity to assist within 24h. Therefore it’s recommended to provide reasonable time frame to get back with all required information.

Brexit

The approaching referendum on 23rd June poses a question mark for future outbound MICE business from the UK. Hope is that in the long term the currency will recover and existing contracts will remain.

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Switzerland has an image of an expensive destination, but the good news is that there are ways to save money.

Firstly, high service quality can save planners money on the overall event because of reliable service and responsiveness throughout the event management process. Secondly, when hosting an event in Switzerland public transport is included in most destinations when there’s a booking confirmation from a hotel. Thirdly, Switzerland has the lowest VAT in Europe of 7.6%. Lastly, knowing when the peak season for MICE business is can save planners also money. In Switzerland, for example, strongest months for meetings are the lowers for leisure tourism and include March, May, June and November.

The advantage of working with a CVB is that they can offer their local knowledge and insider tips. For example, according to Livio most requests come from clients who want to go to big cities such as Geneva or Zurich but there are other destinations which are cheaper and also less than one hour away from major transport hubs.

To conclude, CVB can provide planners with enormous resources for free that can save time and money. The CVB is a neutral body that provides information free of charge and doesn’t get a commission on bookings, they don’t have preferred partners and offer a non-biased advice. But keep in mind, to get the most out of it and meet expectations it’s recommended to get in touch as soon as possible.

This is the first part of #EventPlannersTalk event, second part is coming soon.

Big thank you to Switzerland Convention and Incentive Bureau for sponsoring and supporting this event!

Photos by Sandeep Rai

Expert Interview with Manfred Ritschard: Exhibition Trainings

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When I visited the World Travel Market in the beginning of the month I approached various destinations and had conversations with the representatives. Some of them gave me their business cards and asked for mine, as well as were interested to know more about my business field, while others let me go without providing me with contact details. Even worse, some were on their phones and computers instead of talking to potential customers. It is very expensive to present at exhibitions, therefore you would like to have a considerable ROI of leads as well.

I am a big supporter of trainings and think that exhibition trainings are as important as other trainings employees receive, such as communication, leadership, sales etc.

I decided to have a chat with a good colleague of mine who is a leading sales and communication trainer in Switzerland, Manfred Ritschard, the managing director of Manfred Ritschard & Partner LLC about the topic and ask for his tips and opinion.

1) What tips would you give to someone who represents his company on an

exhibition?

Invest in a workshop led by an exhibition professional and followed by a

training on-process – means right on the spot at the exhibition. In the

workshop you develop the wording of your main message and elaborate

effective interactions and formulations to involve possible new customers as

well as to keep conversations with “old” clients as short as possible.

2) How exhibition training is different from sales training?

In a regular sales training the intention is to sell something or to get the

deal right away. In an exhibition training your first intention is to

contact new customers, to present yourself and to establish the beginning of

a longterm relation. An exhibition is the right spot to present your company

and your products and to make potential customers fall in love with the idea

to stay in touch with you after the event. In addition to all that you

learn a lot about their needs by asking questions. By the way this is a

perfect small talk topic with customers who are visiting you at your booth:

What could we do better?

3) You are a leading trainer in Switzerland and to your clients count

Reiter, Precitrame, Schaffner and others. Could you give us some tips on how

to approach Swiss companies on an exhibition?

Sure! Swiss are rather distinctive but very open to get involved in a

business talk when YOU start a conversation. They like a friendly smile (as

most Europeans, too). In business English or French are besides German

common languages – Swiss professionals master these languages. As soon as

you know that their origin is in the German speaking part of Switzerland

(i.g. Berne, Basel, Zurich) you could say “Gruezi” – they will like that and

smile about your try… Swiss are used to firm handshakes and eye contact

in communication. This might be different for people of other cultures.

Swiss are used to an international surrounding because among eight million

inhabitants we count two million foreigners in Switzerland. We adapt to any

culture quite easily. But the use of a friendly voice and of the words

“please” and “thank you” are most welcome.

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St. Moritz Art Masters – World Class Event at Top Destination

During the event private bank Julius Bär opens for public as an art gallery

From 23.08- 01.09.2013 the St. Moritz Art Masters, partly an outdoor public event will take place in St. Moritz and surrounding villages. During the event period art pieces are spread around St. Moritz and you can enter exclusive locations, including the private bank Julius Bär and Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains to see the exhibitions.

Most of the exhibitions are free of charge, some may include small fee and some are exclusive for members, sponsors and their clients.

I visited this event in 2010 and can definitely recommend it and would be more than happy to visit it again. It is great to see how the small town transfers itself for the art lovers, with interesting art pieces spread around and you just want to walk around and discover more of it.

Here I gathered for you some of my impressions:

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Photos: The MICE Blog

Memories from St. Moritz and White Turf

Going through my pictures I bumped into this one memorable event I attended in 2010. The White Turf St. Moritz is a horse race, but what makes it unique is the fact that it takes place on the frozen lake.

St. Moritz is a luxury Swiss resort and during the winter it hosts other prestigious sporting events such as the Polo World Cup on Snow and the Cresta Run. In addition it hosted the Winter Olympics in1928 and 1948.

Even though the temperatures were below 0 degrees it was an outdoor event with all the catering facilities, races and sponsor exhibits outdoor. The weather didn’t stop event attendees and the atmosphere was great.