The city of Vienna is at its best when congresses or major city events are organised. In fact, Vienna is a European leader in terms of city marketing. In 1999, a dedicated department was set up called 'Stadt Wien Marketing' which employs 17 staff. So it's time to focus on CEO Michael Draxler who can tell us how important events are for the Austrian capital.
Report Marcel A.M. Vissers
“Events bring a city to life and attract foreign guests. In Vienna, events have become part of the city scene and they are enjoyed enormously by the Viennese.”
Two major attractions in Vienna
We've all heard about the traditional Viennese Balls, but the lesser-known Life Ball is the largest annual Aids charity event in the world. And it's held at the Vienna City Hall. I was lucky enough to attend the Life Ball in 2013 together with some of the world's most famous stars and celebrities. Bill Clinton, for example, is a regular guest. I was really impressed by the way Vienna was able to organise such a splendid spectacle. I was convinced that it was the work of an intelligent team.
This year I was invited to the Eurovision Song Contest (23 May), also in Vienna, which was held immediately after the Life Ball (16 May). That was another perfect example of Viennese organisational talents. How do you manage to successfully organise two major events like that, back to back? And believe me, they were really major and successful events.
Michael Draxler, CEO of Stadt Wien Marketing (www.wien-event.at), revealed some of their tricks: "Our department organises about 50 events every year for the city of Vienna. We also co-ordinate and contribute to events organised by third parties, such as the Life Ball and Eurovision. Over the years we have developed skills to execute complicated assignments. Events bring a city to life and attract foreign guests. In Vienna, events have become part of the city scene and they are enjoyed enormously by the Viennese. All I can say is: come and visit!”
Other Viennese congress treasures
It doesn't always take the prestigious names of palaces to attract organisers of events or congresses. Vienna has several lesser-known venues and programmes that are just as interesting. For example, the new campus for the University of Economics, Vienna’s brand-new business university, has stylish white buildings and it's is a showcase of modern architecture (www.wu.ac.at).
Another great venue is the Leopold Museum in Vienna's Museum Quarter that belongs to the artistic and cultural main attractions in the historic centre of the city. You could attend a special exhibition here during the Eurovision Song Contest: ‘The Null-Pointers’ or singers who had scored zero points throughout the history of the contest. However, one real palace which is in fact worth mentioning is the Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna which was originally built as a hotel for the World Exhibition in Vienna in 1873. It's very well located on the famous Ring Boulevard (www.kempinsky.com/de/Wien).
Unusual locations for large events
Thanks to Michael Müllnner of Büro Wien (www.buerowien.com), I discovered several other unknown gems. Art for Art, Europe’s largest artist’s workshop, was the first. The paintings and stage designs for Vienna’s State Opera, the Volksopera, the Burgtheater and other internationally important theatres are created in this workshop. They are spaces where extravagant events can be held. Marx Halle, the former slaughterhouse, with its stunning architecture, endless amount of space and a number of possibilities, is another top venue. (www.marxhalle.at).
Dating back to the 17th century, Aula der Wissenschaften, with its beautiful lecture halls, was originally used by the university. On the top floor, the early baroque building has accommodated the impressive hall of the Jesuit theatre from the very beginning (www.srs.at). The Spanische Hofreitschule - Spanish Riding School- is a well-known venue where you always find something new. It houses the Winterreitschule, a magnificent baroque building intended for horse-riding, which can be transformed into a unique location for events, including the Stallburg which is equipped with a mobile roof construction.
Unfortunately, I don't have time to tell you about all the events that were ever organised at these exciting buildings. But Elisabeth Millington of the Vienna Convention Bureau (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the ideal person to contact, or visit the website: www.vienna.convention.at.
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.