A culture of innovation and progress distinguishes Austria as being the most important destination for meetings and events. Austria looks back on a long tradition as being the place for wellbeing and events and sits alongside the top players in the world league for hosting conventions today. With a wide-ranging variety of locations on offer, Austria is the ideal place for meetings, conferences and congresses with a wow-factor. When one considers the increasing number of event participants – above all international guests – the meaning of the meeting sector to the tourism industry becomes increasingly clear. Austria has also established itself at the very forefront of the digital and technical world, setting new standards with its “green meetings” format. Every region has something different to offer for meetings, so different target groups will also find a broad and wide-ranging set of offers.
Austria looks back on a long history of being an important destination for conferences. It hosted landmark events such as the Congress of Vienna and a number of significant conferences during the post-war era. The country was also home to a number of international authorities, and this consolidated Austria’s reputation as a meeting place of world standing. To this day, Austria remains an established name on the international events stage. The statistics displayed by renowned global meeting associations show our country to be in a leading position in this field when compared to others internationally. It’s recently been confirmed once again by both the UIA (Union of International Associations) and the ICCA (International Congress & Convention Association) that Austria is one of the most in-demand destinations on the global meeting stage. Its ideal location at the heart of Europe and above all the innovative strength of the individual tourism companies, hospitality and excellent infrastructure, all contribute to the global appeal of Austria as a place to hold meetings.
Alongside international events, the conference business is developing more and more in the direction of individual experiences – whether in a hut, brewery, castle or in the middle of the mountains, seminar guests are searching for creative space and experiences around their workshops and talks. The choice of conference venues in Austria range from picturesque natural landscapes and stately palaces to futuristic convention centres. The wide-ranging offer appeals to both national and international large congresses, and small seminars. In 2017, international events brought in approximately 22.7% of annual revenue, almost a quarter of the total.
Conferences and meetings are important to the economy and, above all during spring and autumn, can cover the lull during the off-peak time in the leisure industry. The conclusions drawn in the Meeting Industry Report Austria (mira), jointly published annually in May by the Austrian Convention Bureau (ACB) and Österreich Werbung (The Austrian National Tourist Office/ANTO), underpin the importance of the sector. In 2017 the conference industry recorded a total number of 21,641 conferences with around 1.69 million participants. This corresponds to a rise of 11.9% in the number of conferences and 5.2% in the number of participants. International guests stayed overnight for an average of 4 nights in the region the conference is held, whilst national guests booked to stay for one night. In 2017 the conference industry generated around 3.5 million overnight stays, thereby contributing to 2.4% of all tourist overnight stays.
Interactive meeting formats which involve and activate the participant are rapidly gaining importance. The current trend is towards open, large-scale meeting areas, which have flexible uses. The modern event design also brings changes with it, with its host of technical requirements. Integrated systems unite messaging, telephone services and video conferencing together on a single platform and in doing so change the meeting formats of the future. Meetings can increasingly be held online, and events can be followed from the office via live streams.
The Austrian environmental guidelines 62 “Green Meetings and Events” have been established as a recognised and credible marker for sustainable events. Since their creation in 2010, a total of 973 green meetings and 247 green events with over a million participants have taken place. In 2017, 130 meetings and 65 events were certified, with around 250,000 visitors. At present in Austria there are around 72 certified green events licence holders. They are characterised by increased energy efficiency, waste prevention and environmentally friendly methods of departure and arrival for the guests. Regional added value and social responsibility are also integral to the licence.