Photo Credit: ©WienTourismus/Martina Siebenhandl

Kongres Magazine talked to Christian Woronka, Director of B2B Management at the Vienna Tourist Board, who discussed what role conferences and corporate events play in Vienna’s future tourism strategy. Mr. Woronka discussed the benefits of the meetings industry and the future of Vienna as a world-renowned destination. 

INTRO 1: How would you describe your destination if you could only use two to three words?

Livable, timeless, and convenient.

INTRO 2: Which destination do you believe is your biggest competition?

Each destination has its assets and areas of strength. At the end of the day, our competitors are also friends with whom we exchange ideas – after all, we all face similar challenges. In the end, it’s the customer’s wishes that count because they decide.

Which destination is an inspiring role model to you?

For me, there is not one role model. Every destination and every Convention Bureau has its own background, individual approaches and strategies – by learning from each other, we continue to develop.

Q1: How do you see the recognition among the top ten meeting destinations evaluated according to the Meeting Experience Index?

Each destination ranked in this index offers individual assets and strengths. We are very pleased to be listed here as well and to even lead the ranking.

Q2: What sets your destination apart from your competition, and what will ensure you have a competitive edge in the future?

Congresses and corporate events are of central importance for Vienna. We are very proud that, in Vienna, meetings are not seen separately but are thought of in a cross-sectoral way. The meeting destination as a “city of international encounters” is firmly anchored in the city’s Economic and Innovation Strategy 2030 – and part of the Vienna Tourist Board’s Visitor Economy Strategy 2025. Through defined infrastructure projects and other investments, for example, in locations and hotels, the city is constantly developing and will remain an interesting destination for event organisers in the future.

Photo Credit: Vienna Tourist Board, Paul Bauer

“The tourism industry is volatile and always the first to feel the effects of international crises.”

Q3: We live in uncertain times; in the past two years, we have learned how to battle the crisis caused by the corona crisis and face the economic crisis caused by the war. How does your destination cope in such challenging times?

The tourism industry is volatile and always the first to feel the effects of international crises. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we have learned to reschedule at short notice and with little lead time. We will continue to do so in the future. Furthermore, we have been continuously in touch with our clients and partners to support them with information and expertise. One particular measure made possible for event organisers and the Viennese meeting industry by the City of Vienna was the Vienna Meeting Fund (more information at: https://www.vienna.convention.at/en/event-planning/funding-for-events/vienna-meeting-fund-2022-2024).

Q4: How do you foresee the future of the meetings industry in the next decade? What topics must the industry address immediately?

Face-to-face meetings are more important than ever, especially after these challenging times. Fundamentally, change is inevitable – and has been a constant companion in the meetings industry as well, not just since the pandemic. However, the industry has proven its strength in adapting to new circumstances and needs. Specifically, I think we need to immediately look at living and implementing a way of life that ensures our planet is still livable for generations to come. That includes promoting dialogue between young and old in order to live mutual understanding between generations.

Photo Credit: WienTourismus, Gregor Hofbauer

“In every case, and as in every industry and life situation, communication is the key.”

Q5: How does your destination stay up-to-date with the turbulent changes sweeping the meetings industry? What is your advice for our readers?

One of the great things about the meetings industry is that we are constantly in contact with clients and partners from many different sectors. We learn from each other and thus benefit from each other. in general, I feel it is important to be open-minded and to observe trends and changes in other business fields as well. Many trends turn out to be cross-industry, and it is never a mistake to look beyond your own horizons.

Q6: What should the meetings industry do to attract talented individuals? What is your advice for young talents starting their careers?

On the one hand, it is important to present the benefits of this industry, its diversity and the development opportunities it offers. On the other hand, however, I believe it is also essential to provide security. Especially after the pandemic, during which many employees left the industry, companies have become aware of how important it is to retain employees.

Q7: Where are you positioning your marketing efforts this year and the next?

For the meeting sector, we have defined five key markets: Belgium, Germany, UK, US and Switzerland. In those countries, we actively communicate via the press, social media and cooperation. In addition, the team of the Vienna Convention Bureau is taking part in selected international industry meetings and workshops.

Q8: Your partners are possibly the most demanding meeting planners. What is it like to work with them and meet their needs?

As a neutral Convention Bureau without members, we act on behalf of the entire industry. We are, therefore, in constant dialogue with the Viennese industry and thus support each other. From my point of view, it is important to be clear about our role – where we can provide direct support and for which topics or requests it is our task to establish connections and networks. In every case, and as in every industry and life situation, communication is the key. It’s a matter of listening to each other to understand needs.

About Christian Woronka

Christian Woronka is the director of the B2B Management at the Vienna Tourist Board comprising the teams International B2B Relations, B2B Marketing Communications and the Vienna Convention Bureau. It is his concern to develop the destination in a holistic and sustainable way and to continuously optimize the destination’s offerings.

Learn more about Vienna Convention Bureau here.

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