Conference checkpoint: Meeting Place Berlin

Attendance at conventions and meetings held in Berlin continued to rise over the first half of 2017, according to the city’s convention office.

Nearly 5m delegates attended 64,000 conferences in the German capital and business travellers spent 3.9m nights in the city over these first six months. The figures represent a 1.8% uptick in numbers from the comparable period in 2017.

A quarter of all hotel bookings were made by conference delegates, according to the new statistical report.

“As a venue for congresses, Berlin continues to play in the top league,” says Burkhard Kieker, CEO of visitBerlin, the agency overseeing the convention office.

The United States and Canada are providing increasing numbers of international delegates and the bureau reports that 20% of the events held in the German capital now have an international character (up 1%).

Berlin, despite losing its ICCA city ranking topspot last year, has been developing innovative formats for its international customers: with its sustainable event concept Meet+Change and the Berlin Speakers Pool among new services launched this year.

Medicine, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare account for 20% of all events held in the city, politics and public institutions account for 14% and IT and the digital economy 13%.

Organisers in town

visitBerlin attracted 130 industry meeting and event organisers to its Meeting Place Berlin event, 13-17 July, the biggest ever interest from international clients, who represented 80% of the group. This year they came from 29 countries and six continents.

visitBerlin put on the event as an opportunity for organisers to get a first-hand look at the city, said Heike Mahmoud, director conventions at the Berlin Convention Office.

“We developed a special programme with more than 50 partners from Berlin’s meetings industry. Planners of international conventions are showing more interest in Berlin than ever before. The US and the UK are our top foreign markets,” Mahmoud added.

The programme included a workshop day as a business platform with Berlin partners.

There was also a Meet Berlin Day with site tours and active incentive offerings for guests to try. There were visits to Classic Remise Berlin, the Bolle Festsäle, the Gasometer, Axica, the Zoological Anatomy Theatrer, bcc, Fabrik 23, Tangoloft and Spreespeicher Berlin.

Hotels on the itinerary included Hotel Provocateur, Hotel Oderberger, Estrel, and the Vienna House Andel’s Berlin.

This year’s edition of the familiarisation trip marked the ninth Meeting Place Berlin since 2005.

The last year added up to Berlin’s conference market generating sales of €2.41bn in 2016 (+4.7% over the previous year).

Messe Berlin Site Experience

The Meeting Place Berlin event followed quickly on the recent Messe Berlin Site Experience for international association congress organisers, 17 of whom were at the Messe, 10-11 July, for an exclusive behind the scenes tour during the World Congress of the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH).

The group also was also able to explore the CityCube Berlin, where they were able to question the ISTH organising team, and also the Messe Berlin team and get an inside line on staging such a giant convention.

Many of those attending the Site Experience were from medical organisations, and there was representation from education and financial organisations, too.

Participants represented congresses which involve over 150,000 attendees and some 600,000 overnights at the respective locations.

“The Site Visit is the old thinking. We wanted to offer a genuine site experience. By talking to our customers ISTH, our customers of the future were able to gain a direct impression of the venue and what makes Messe Berlin and this city so attractive“, said Dr Ralf Kleinhenz, senior vice-president at Messe Berlin.

“We are delighted with the positive response and hope we have inspired them to return with their congresses,” Kleinhenz said.

Mahmoud added: “Berlin is known around the world as a centre for innovation and has a first-class network of universities and research centres. This is particularly beneficial for meetings related to science and medicine.

“In addition, the city offers affordable accommodation compared to other cities and a wide range of cultural offerings. This unique blend is convincing an increasingly number of convention and event organisers.”

Indeed, the city has a heady brew of good value, space and event experience allied to a dyanamic knowledge economy: a recipe for future meetings success.


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Paul Colston

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