The underlying principle of the visitor economy goes far beyond the standard definition of tourism: it opens up perspectives on the diversity of guests and the countless “temporary Viennese” who make the city the center of their lives for the duration of their stay. The term “visitors” applies to all guests who live, work or study here, go shopping or stroll the streets, make use of its cultural and leisure facilities, or come to the city on business or to attend meetings. They bring economic benefits, an outside perspective on the capital, and a wealth of influences, ideas and skills with them. The strategy was developed under the aegis of the Vienna Tourist Board with the support of numerous stakeholder groups. In addition to involving partners from the tourism sector and meetings industry, drawing up the strategy involved a broad cross-section of representatives of the visitor economy including municipal district leaders, urban and property developers, retailers, mobility providers and universities. An international expert committee made up of Ben Goedegebuure from Maritz Global Events, Katja Schechtner from the OECD and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as city development and urbanism expert Greg Clark, provided insights into the broader picture.
Adding value for the city, its residents and businesses
“The guiding principle of our strategy is: the visitor economy needs to add value. For the companies in the ecosystem, this is a question of business added value; for the city and its residents, it means city added value,” explained Vienna’s Director of Tourism Norbert Kettner. By 2025 (compared with 2018 as the baseline) the contribution of the visitor economy to GDP in Vienna shall increase from EUR 4bn to EUR 6bn, while revenue from the city’s accommodation providers shall advance from EUR 900m to EUR 1.5bn. And the aim is also to ensure that residents’ positive attitudes to tourism remain the same: at present, nine out of ten Viennese view tourism favourably. Meeting Destination Vienna is one of three core action areas (alongside Place Making & Place Marketing and Smart Solutions), in which Vienna wishes to take specific steps towards achieving its goals. All of the measures implemented under the strategy are aligned with the core values of Premium, Cosmopolitan and Digital. Norbert Kettner: “This means that Vienna is committed to delivering premium quality across the board while standing for openness, diversity and tolerance as a global capital. The city sees digitalization as a cultural tool, which people should take advantage of in line with the tenets of ‘digital humanism’ rather than using it as an end in itself.”
Meetings as a driver for location development
Vienna has an international reputation as a centre for political dialogue and a hub where the latest scientific findings are shared. As a location for meetings, the city is one of the most sought-after destinations worldwide. And Vienna’s meetings industry is a flagship sector of the visitor economy. Today it already accounts for one in eight overnight stays recorded in the city. And at around EUR 540 per day, congress participants spend almost twice as much in the destination as the average visitor to the capital. “In future, meetings will be increasingly used to drive Vienna’s development as a business and research location, to increase its international visibility and to enhance its competitiveness,” explained Christian Woronka, head of the Vienna Convention Bureau (VCB) and Market Management at the Vienna Tourist Board. Under an alliance between location policymakers and business development agencies, the strategic ties between Vienna’s meetings industry and specific key industries with a presence in Vienna were defined for the first time in the new Vienna 2030 – Business and Innovation location strategy. Going forward, the aim is to identify and acquire key events in the target industries, as well as to establish new high-visibility proprietary events in Vienna. “International congresses will continue to be the backbone of the city’s activities as a destination for meetings, and, in addition to that, we will sharpen the focus on the corporate event segment,” Christian Woronka confirmed.
New Meeting Destination Vienna brand
One of the main measures of the Visitor Economy Strategy is establishing and strategically positioning the brand for Vienna as a destination for meetings by 2025. The first steps have already been taken in this direction: the Vienna Tourist Board, working with its Vienna Convention Bureau and Vienna-based agency seite zwei, drew up a communications concept for the new Meeting Destination Vienna brand which harmonizes with the brand strategy for the destination as a whole. In terms of content, the brand draws on the high quality of service and expertise offered by Vienna’s meetings industry. The central communicative idea runs through all of the elements of the brands: “Vienna makes it easy for you” – to plan, organize and enjoy an event. Presented in a personal and emotional way, the meeting itself is in the foreground of each individual communications element. This sense of “meeting” is explored from various sides, both in terms of content and the images used. The different executions show that Vienna is not only a place to meet other people, but a place of contrasts and surprising moments encounters with great thinkers, or charm and Viennese humour. The target audience is addressed directly – one of the messages from Vienna is “Meet exceptional perspectives through local eyes”. The feeling of people meeting and interacting with one another is encapsulated in the claim, which, in turn, is a smart extension of the umbrella brand for Vienna. “Vienna. Now. Forever” has been extrapolated to “Meeting Destination Vienna. Now. Together.” In the new brand’s implementation phase, a toolbox will be created to coordinate storytelling which will be used by the various stakeholders in the Viennese meetings industry to add to the appeal of all aspects of Meeting Destination Vienna.
Close cooperation in the capital’s meetings segment
The Meeting Destination Vienna. Now. Together slogan stands both for cooperation with customers who plan their meetings in Vienna and the close ties between the capital’s meetings industry stakeholders. “We see ourselves as bridge builders and in future, we want to intensify the dialogue between the different players in the wider visitor economy still further. Our goal is to continuously optimize the destination’s offerings and the services that we offer organizers and to work together as we respond to future trends and the challenges to come,” Woronka reported.
Premium quality offering and service
To help Vienna build on its pioneering role as a destination for meetings, the city is constantly investing in the quality of the locations, with the Austria Center Vienna and Messe Wien a particularly important focus in this respect. A new event venue for around 20,000 people will provide additional impetus when it is completed in the Neu-Marx area of the third district in 2024. In future, Vienna will offer new services and support for international corporate organizers and associations when it comes to dealing with red-tape, by simplifying the processes behind public outreach activities.
Sustainability in action
Taking environmental responsibility should be made visible as a benchmark, for example under the Global Destination Sustainability Index (www.gds-index.com). Certification of Viennese operators with the Austrian Umweltzeichen ecolabel, classification of hotels according to sustainability criteria and green meetings are among the other core action areas. The Vienna Tourist Board is also sending out a signal: in future, CO2 emissions attributable to business trips taken by air will be offset through Climate Austria.