Many countries have been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. How is Vienna currently dealing with this crisis?
After starting the year 2020 with a record forecast of international association meetings, the pandemic and its consequences have severely affected Vienna’s meeting industry. Due to the cancellation of events, we are currently losing a monthly added value of about 80 million euro, and about 22 million euro in tax revenues. Vienna's hotel industry is losing about 120,000 overnight stays per month.
Then again, we have seen continued innovation pushed for by our industry partners. In addition to the aforementioned, we have seen the introduction of WIFI6 at Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Centre as well as the re-opening of an all renewed Hilton Vienna Park, Austria’s biggest congress hotel. Austria Center Vienna’s latest addition comes with an added 4,000 sqm of event space and additional investments in hybrid event facilities.
The MICE industry is struggling during these difficult times. How do you think this will change our industry, and what measures can be taken, in your opinion?
For the time being, hybrid meetings and digital communication channels are essential tools in order to keep up our work and we expect them to play a vital role throughout 2021. Exciting technologies are being developed and implemented in Vienna that help to connect the physical and virtual space. The Convention Bureau Vienna offers its customers a digital platform that helps them to experience the destination virtually.
The Viennese meeting industry will also receive more planning security: under the approved EUR 300 million protective shield, the Austrian government will cover financial damage resulting from events being canceled or restricted due to COVID-19. Since January 18, 2021, applications can be submitted via the Austrian Hotel and Tourism Bank (ÖHT). The first eligible event date is March 1, 2021. Applications can be submitted through June 15, 2021. They will be processed by the Austrian Hotel and Tourism Bank (ÖHT). Organisers from outside Austria can also apply for a grant.
As soon as Vienna is able to welcome international association congresses in the future…
Where to meet?
More than 200 impressive venues and conference hotels in Vienna provide the ideal setting for unique events. Many of them are located in the city center, meaning they are within easy reach – particularly using public transportation.
Vienna has three convention centers providing outstanding infrastructure, state-of-the-art technology, highly professional partners, direct connections to the public transport system as well as numerous hotels within walking distance. Hofburg Vienna, the former imperial residence, is the international Congress and Event Center in the heart of the city. Austria Center Vienna is unrivalled in Europe with its wide range of halls, rooms and outdoor spaces. Since 2020 an attractive canopy – the danubeSAIL with more than 4000sqm additional event space – has been added to the square outside the building. From 2022 a new access building with skywalk and modernized entrance will make it more convenient to use the different levels for separate events held in parallel. Whether hosting a conference, corporate event or trade fair – the Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Center supports highly flexible solutions, with 55,000sqm of exhibition space in the main building.
Furthermore Vienna is getting a new, smart event location in autumn 2021: “Ariana” is located in the up and coming Seestadt Aspern quarter, one of the largest urban development projects in Europe. The event spaces occupy a total of 1,300sqm and are suitable for functions ranging from 100 to 500 visitors.
Where to stay?
Vienna offers a wide range of overnight accommodation, from palaces and international hotel chains to family-run establishments. The international chains include familiar names such as The Ritz-Carlton, Park Hyatt, Hilton and many others. The former Radisson Blu Palais Hotel on Parkring will reopen in 2021 as the Almanac Vienna. The luxury hotel chain "Mandarin Oriental" is moving to Vienna: in 2023, the five-star hotel is scheduled to open in the first district.
Of the around 425 hotels and pensions 22 are 5-star hotels, 166 belong to the 4-star category and another 166 to the 3-star category.
How to get there?
Vienna's central position in Europe makes it a hub offering optimal flight connections to the whole world. The new Main Station has turned Vienna into an international railway hub. Recently, night train connections have been greatly expanded, and a new connection with Paris is planned for the end of 2021.
The public transportation system always gets one quickly from one place to the other. In the city center everything is within walking distance. Just some of the reasons why Vienna is famous for being the world’s most liveable city.
Do you offer any special services/assistance for associations?
Our dedicated Associations team is available to provide up-to-date, comprehensive and precise information on the situation in the city and acts as a competent point of contact who understands associations’ needs and concerns. Our specialists work closely with our partners and stakeholders in Vienna, making sure we curate and pass on information and enable fluid conversations.
Furthermore, we are able to advise on options regarding financial support granted by the Vienna Convention Bureau for congresses hosted by associations which had been limited to specific months and is now available for all of 2021.
Personal recommendation/insider tips?
A lot has happened recently in the area of museum openings. With the Albertina modern, Vienna got a new museum for modern and contemporary art last year. Moreover the Sigmund Freud Museum has been reopened after months of refurbishment and we can now rediscover many aspects of the life and work of the father of psychoanalysis.
Vienna is an incredibly green city and the only metropolis that grows enough wine within its city limits to make it worth mentioning. And Vienna’s heurigers – the homely taverns serving fine wine and buffet food – are legendary. Some of the heurigers and vintners run tours, allowing a first-hand glance at vineyards and wine cellars.
Big name architects including Adolf Loos, Matteo Thun, Sir Terence Conran and others have created bars and restaurants in Vienna that are well worth a visit just for their design alone. The Loos Bar in the city center is a classic example. A century ago Viennese architect and modernist pioneer Adolf Loos created a timeless atmosphere with his compact American Bar.
Whom to contact?
For further information on safe meetings in Vienna, please contact the Vienna Convention Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.vienna.convention.at