HQ Report: Wir Sind Berlin

11th Nov, 2020

Multiculti, ecstatic and overwhelming, Berlin was one of the most requested destinations for events of all kinds last year and has not rested on its laurels since then. Here's what the convention office of visit.berlin did to secure its reputation.

The German capital gained a fantastic third place in the latest ICCA ranking for international meetings destinations. As a creative and vibrant metropolis at the heart of Europe, the reasons are plain sight and combine with great equipment and venues.

Over 150,000 hotel beds at an average cost of €100 per night, in addition to more than 361 exhibition spaces with direct transport from over 188 destinations, are all impressive figures. However, the attractiveness of the city inevitably suffered this year.

“Indeed, 2019 was possibly Berlin’s best year for meetings, conventions and incentives, however COVID-19 has changed the game here. We look ahead to embrace that change,” Marco Oelschlegel, conventions director of visit.berlin, tells us. Germany's international reputation during the pandemic also contributed to maintaining this image of relentless efficiency. The Berlin Senate, for example, approved a new congress fund that will help the city attract new events focusing on the areas of digitisation, mobility and health.

“We have consequently developed a dedicated hygiene and safety framework which serves meeting planners as a guideline. Our goal is to convince as many attendees as possible that it is safe to come to meetings here,” Oelschlegel adds. Local authorities decided to soften the regulations for meetings, conventions, events and trade fair shows, progressively, for indoor and open air events, reducing the anxiety of meeting planners and the ponderosity of virtual events.

“We have supported the German Convention Bureau's Future Meeting Space project, as well as jointly organising Bocom.online on the 3rd of September, a conference that discusses new conference formats, since we believe the meetings industry will keep the hybrid option,” Oelschlegel says. A great tool for this purpose is the virtual and exclusive event format ‘made in Berlin’, a platform that favours the presentation of news and insight tips with partners.

But how long can Berlin sustain this working frame? Are we ready to move forward? Marco Oelschlegel is cautious: “We will continue to live with the virus within the next months and I think all of us got accustomed to new habits and behaviors. Meetings have been possible under these conditions in Berlin since June and people need and want to meet, too. If there is a second wave, we will be much better prepared than in the spring.” Proof of this are the constant openings this autumn, with cultural shows, art exhibitions, festivals and restaurants.

Finally, the city's commitment to environmental sustainability has been a strong pull factor. Sustainable Meetings Berlin was launched at IMEX in 2019, as an initiative with all the partners to make the city one of the most innovative and sustainable meeting destinations in the world. “COVID-19 has even been an accelerator for us in this way: the meeting of the future will be hybrid, flexible and sustainable in all its dimensions,” Oelschlegel concludes.

Cover Photo: Brandenburger Tor (Berlin).
Caption Photo: Marco Oelschlegel, conventions director of visit.berlin.

Other Articles

About Us

Supported by the Union of International Associations (UIA), the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) and the Interel Group, the global public affairs and association management consultancy, Headquarters Magazines serve the needs of international associations organising worldwide congresses.