Congress Messe Innsbruck
Among stunning, testing and winding trails right in the heart of the Alps, we find a leading winter destination that has simultaneously provided excellent models for the conceptual transition that the meetings industry has been facing.
In Tirol, there are endless possibilities to capture the imagination of your delegates - unusual venues carefully carved out of Alpine landscapes, high safety and living standards, and a unique sense of “regionality” which is revealed in their traditions and culture. Now, after two years in which people have been deprived of travel, the historic austrian region − far from the hustle and bustle of large metropolises – has drawn between its high mountain peaks and steep valleys, a sustainable, innovative and sui generis destination for business events and association conferences. Socio-economic development is also quite cemented here with 7 start-up companies springing up daily, 60 scientific research facilities, and the experience of major undertakings with 3 Winter Olympics in the portfolio. As an encouraging sign for the industry, in October 2021 the Convention Bureau Tirol (CBT) designed “Tirol Connect”, a hybrid customer event, which served as a case-study for both Tirol convention partners and meeting planners in the DACH region. Together with stakeholders and meeting experts, they tried to shed light on the question of how to integrate nature into healthy and regenerative events.
“As if under a magnifying glass, what was already noticeable before has clearly emerged during this time. Now we are all “hybrid professionals” and “COVID-19 commissioners”. The “soul” of the events – enthusiasm, emotion, encounter – will remain, but the “body” – format, size, concept – will have to be rethought,” Veronika Schumann (on the right), CBT team leader, told us. This wisdom has encouraged both her team and partners to see the crisis as an opportunity and an accelerator. “In the meetings industry, the issue of sustainability in the form of “green meetings” has long played an important role and here too, Corona has favoured demand.” For Tirol, this is much more than just a theoretical approach and resource-saving action, but mostly about social responsibility, inclusion and regional decisions. Tirolean companies also see this as an opportunity to act as role models in terms of ecological, economic and social sustainability. “We see ourselves as a destination that unites several regions and a successful combination of alpine and urban. To exaggerate, our concept is that of ‘renting a region’, where people work together,” she adds.
The Global Destination Sustainability Benchmark 2021 clearly demonstrated this strong performance in the environmental dimension – Tirol leads the ranking in first place. As a transit valley, the challenges lie especially in preserving intact natural places through an increased focus on alternative mobility solutions. In a collaborative process involving public consultation and experts from the tourism and meeting industry together with external stakeholders, CBT has developed a sustainability strategy entitled “ReGeneration NOW”. “It includes a comprehensive action plan with 46 concrete goals based on the UN SDGs and, in the four defined fields of action, it also commits to a strong model effect, through a significant increase in certifications, sustainable mobility, social engagement and green meetings,” says Schumann.
This regenerative transformation is addressed by the bureau in these three commandments: first, building trust and authenticity as an example to follow; second, spreading this conviction in different networks (national and international); and third, empowering partners for sustainable ways of doing business. This will help pave the way for Tirol to assume a social, economic and ecological pioneering role in the congress and conference sector.
On the other hand, we are now returning to a VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) world having to deal directly with such complex problems as the pandemic or the war in Ukraine. This shows how important it is to have a strong vision and strategy in place to ensure a certain stability. “I would say the word of the moment is flexicurity − providing security, but being flexible and agile in different situations.” In order to stay in touch with its partners and to further promote networking, the CBT organised various meetings, including live and remote, under the crystal clouds at the Swarovski Crystal Worlds, in the Innsbruck Hofgarten or in the form of a hybrid advisory board meeting at the Wattens workshop. “We also created the virtual meeting series Tea(m) Time’, where our experts informed about current measures, alternative marketing activities and innovative event possibilities offering the platform for an active exchange of experiences,” Schumann reported. The Incentiveland Tirol offers a diverse range of activities and the ideal framework programme, clustering various experiences based on the requirements different target audiences. A strong focus will be put on the so-called soft incentives with educational, regenerative or charitable character.
"For Tirol, sustainability is much more than just a theoretical approach and resource-saving action, but mostly about social responsibility, inclusion and regional decisions."
Not lagging behind the race, Conventionland Tirol’s partners have used the last two years to equip their companies for hybrid events, adapting this format for various meetings, such as the European Forum Alpbach. “One of the most notable examples is probably our sustainable hybrid event ‘Tirol Connect’. It was run as a “green event”, verified and certified by the Austrian Ecolabel, with the content focusing heavily on health and sustainability. The biggest learning was that by running it sustainably, it did not really increase any costs, but the quality of the event.” Furthermore, as part of ‘Lebensraum Tirol Holding’, it is highly commended that meetings and events in the Tirolean living space leave a respectful and sustainable mark, where participants and residents can interact eye to eye. “This is also why we focus on positive and empowering messages in our communications – such as talking about green, good practices, real personal stories, showing events that generate positive impact, not only economically, but also socially and ecologically,” concludes Schumann.
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