A marriage made in Switzerland

A marriage made in Switzerland

Ramy Salameh finds a sustainably strategic union at Lausanne Montreux Congress.


The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently inaugurated a new HQ in its home city, the Olympic Capital Lausanne, in Switzerland.

The new building reflects a municipality defined by sport, and comes on stream in the IOC’s 125th anniversary year. Home to 50 sporting federations and the IOC’s busy events calendar, Lausanne is also busy evolving into an active MICE destination. 

The IOC’s new HQ is all about ‘Sustainability and transparency’, said IOC President Thomas Bach in his speech at the venue opening.

Lausanne Montreux Congress’ (LMC) is the two-centre CVB set up two years ago and has helped drive the destination into the top 20 list of the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index). Sustainability is a big part of the over-arching strategy and LMC’s Montreux Representative, Martina Fuhrer, believes that, long term, many sustainable initiatives drive savings and rationalise costs for planners. “Part of our remit is to help clients locate smart destinations and venues, through our close engagement with partners,” she says.

The idea behind the formation of LMC was to combine efforts to attract more congresses to both cities. “Combining skills, knowledge and assets to boost congress promotion is a very useful initiative,” says LMC’s Lausanne Representative Gerald Howard.

Lausanne’s Beaulieu Convention Center is a multi-functional building offering modular and unique spaces to meet almost every event – congres-lausanne.ch

Indeed, there have been eight congress wins already for 2020, up from six in 2019, as well as new bookings for 2021/22.

Lausanne’s soon to open ‘Vortex’ building will house athletes of the Youth Olympics in January 2020’, before becoming part of the University of Lausanne-Swiss Federal Institute of Technology eco-friendly student campus. It is expected to provide a flow of scientific, health and technology related conferences for the on-site Swiss Tech Convention Centre (STCC).

STCC is a new member of the Energy Cities marketing alliance  and has photovoltaic window panels, underground geothermal pillars and an auditorium with automated walls and seating which folds under the floor in minutes. It recently hosted the Swiss NanoConvention 2019.

“STCC is ideal for our plenary sessions, because of quick changes of setup, spacious foyer for lunch with highly visible digital advertising boards,” says Sina Bartosch, Event Manager at the European Huntington’s Disease Network.

Another new sporting and event complex, The Vaudoise Arena opening in the autumn, will have 2,000 solar panels on its rooftop and will complement The Olympic Museum, one of LMC’s big four conference centres and which overlooks Lake Geneva.

Montreux and Lausanne are separated by a 15-minute train ride and share knowledge clusters of sport, culture, health and life sciences, tech, energy and social sciences.

Switzerland’s most visited historic site – Chillon Castle is a breath-taking venue for events – chillon.ch

The International Conference on Document Analysis and Recognition (IDCAR) 2021 is playing on the duality, with its main business plenaries taking place at Lausanne’s Beaulieu Congress Centre while social activities will be held in and around Montreux.

IDCAR delegates will visit Chaplin’s World in Montreux-Vevey. Le Manoir, Charlie Chaplin’s former home, which has meeting space overlooking the 10-acre estate, and its studio can host cocktails and gala dinners.

The UNESCO-listed ‘Chillon Castle’, Switzerland’s most visited historical site, will also be on the IDCAR itinerary.

While Lausanne has been defined by sport, Montreux has been defined by Music and entertainment, home to the world renowned Montreux Jazz Festival and Comedy Festival and has UNESCO listed sites offering incentive options.

UNESCO Lavaux Vineyards between Montreux & Lausanne

The terraced vineyards of the Lavaux winegrowing area, (UNESCO World Heritage since 2007) offer event planners the opportunity to take-over an entire wine producing village for a delegate wine tasting event.

The Montreux Music & Convention Centre (2m2c.ch) has 18,000sqm of space and is the beating heart of the Jazz Festival.

The Belle-Époque Montreux Palace offers 15 rooms and can host 1,200 people. And the eight steamboats traversing Lake Geneva are all available to hire for private functions.

Two may soon become three: The LMC initiative seems to be working well enough for Geneva CVB to consider being part of this strategic union, and could spice up a marriage that is proving more than a convenience for conferencing.

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