Kongres Magazine talked to Vanessa Reis, Head of Convention Bureau at Zürich Tourismus, who talked about Zurich’s sustainable tourism strategy. She also explained why collaboration with stakeholders is key for achieving common goals and fostering the development of the meetings industry.

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

Premium quality, diverse, and surrounded by nature.

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


INTRO 3: Which destination is an inspiring role model to you?

Copenhagen, particularly in relation to sustainability.

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

That is no coincidence. Zurich is a major congress destination. Thanks to ACE Zurich (Arena Convention Expo), we have the infrastructure for conventions, corporate events and exhibitions on an international scale right here in the city. Another major advantage is the city’s global connections – the airport, which is one of the largest in Europe, is located 10 minutes from the city centre by public transport. And as the Zurich area is home to over 15,000 hotel rooms, the city can handle large events very well.

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

We invest a great deal to maintain our leading role as a sustainable destination. We also advocate for premium quality, and that makes Zurich an attractive location for international companies such as Google, IBM and Disney Research. Consequently, as well as being home to two prestigious international universities, Zurich is an important global innovation hub.

Photo Credit: © Zürich Tourism

“Sustainability is increasingly becoming a deal-breaker when organizing business events.”

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?

Like every other destination, we suffered during the pandemic. Some hotels even had to close. However, we were well prepared for the post-pandemic period, we maintained our good relationships with our customers, and we were able to recover more quickly than expected. Last year, we had just 9 per cent fewer overnight stays than in 2019, our record-breaking year. That is pretty remarkable.

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

Sustainability is definitely a hot topic – every aspect of it. The question is: how can we promote sustainable travel and gatherings, and which levers can we use in which areas to bring about decisive change? After all, one thing is clear: sustainability is increasingly becoming a deal-breaker when organizing business events. So, we have to adapt to evolving needs. How can we reach Gen Z, and how can we hold business events that resonate with members of this generation and galvanize them to participate? Going forward, we will need a lot more interaction and participation – presentations and panels featuring a group of individuals are a thing of the past.

Photo Credit: © Zürich Tourism

“Zurich’s manageable size means you can discover everything the city has to offer using the incredible public transport links.”

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

We are in continual dialogue with all our stakeholders. These include conference organizers and hotels, as well as other convention bureaus and destinations. This is the only way we can keep up with the latest trends.

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

We have to remain an attractive employer. The key word here is New Work: fair, flexible working conditions. After all, we also expect employees to be flexible. Progression is an important topic. Our people want to keep developing their skills, and that is more than worthy of support.

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

Zurich is a premium destination that conveys vacation quality. Its manageable size means you can discover everything the city has to offer using the incredible public transport links. The city also offers top-quality overnight stays, cuisine, shopping and cultural attractions. So, Zurich has everything it takes to be an attractive destination for business trips, as well as so much more. It’s, therefore, not surprising that more and more of our guests are extending their business trips in order to explore the city and region themselves.

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

Our partners are clearly our most important stakeholders. Ongoing dialogue is vital, and we have a common goal: to position Zurich as a sustainable, premium destination for business events.

Learn more about Zurich Convention Bureau here.