When I graduated from college in 1998 and ended up in the MICE sector by chance, one of my first contacts was Myriam Winnepenninckx from the Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau. Even then, the convention bureau was known for its high-quality inspection trips and advice.. Some things hardly change. Now, nearly twenty years later, I am still enrolled in the MICE business as editor-in-chief of this conference platform. In front of me sits – yes, indeed! – Myriam Winnepenninckx, and Switzerland is still the same beacon of quality, if not with an even stronger reputation.
- By: Ludo Verhaege (editor-in-chief www.associationplanner.eu)
AP | The image that I had of Switzerland at the time was one of style, prestige, class, and luxury. Those qualities are still there, but it is striking that a lot of new venues and facilities seem to be firmly rooted in the knowledge economy. Is my observation correct?
Myriam Winnepenninckx: "For meetings and conferences, one of the great assets is the concentration of expertise within Switzerland that meeting planners can draw on. Switzerland is a pioneer in many fields, from the life sciences and IT to nuclear research and clean technology. It is also home to a dense concentration of international organisations, including the headquarters of many UN agencies."
AP | Are there other sectors that are thriving?
Myriam Winnepenninckx: "Switzerland is a world leader in other fields as well, from biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medical technology to commodity trading, finance & insurance and information & communication technology. Globally important clusters of companies and research institutions are found throughout the country. A high concentration of specialist expertise in the area is sure to boost attendance for any conference or association meeting. We have even drawn up a dedicated page on our special knowledge fields."
AP | It is also remarkable that you are represented in nearly every list about the quality and standard of living.
Myriam Winnepenninckx: "Indeed. In my opinion, that can be attributed to the presence of many world-class institutions throughout the country. In fact, it's Switzerland's long-standing emphasis on education and research that has led the country to top international rankings in innovation, competitiveness, environmental standards and other fields year after year. The institutions contribute to the wellbeing in Switzerland."
AP | Those high standards are also translated into high service standards for the conference industry.
Myriam Winnepenninckx: "Indeed, that is a compliment that we receive regularly – you can check on our website. Best of all, this same emphasis on quality applies to the meetings industry as well. Planners will find their local partners are multilingual, well-travelled and committed to the highest standards. This dynamic environment has made Switzerland one of the top destinations for world-class international conferences and congresses."
Local partners in Switzerland are multilingual, well-travelled and committed to the highest standards.
AP | Of course, that also makes Switzerland coveted for associations who have their headquarters in Brussels. Which interesting congresses have you guided and advised from Belgium?
Myriam Winnepenninckx: "In April 2016, the annual conference of FIDI, the International Federation of International Furniture Removers, was held in Geneva for 500 attendees, and I could observe it really well from here in Brussels. I am also preparing the annual congress of the European Society of Veterinary Dermatology for 800 delegates. It takes place at the SwissTech Convention Center in Lausanne in September 2017."
There are still certainties in life, even after 20 years: Switzerland is still a top-notch conference destination with Ms Myriam Winnepenninckx as the most reliable go-between you could wish for here in Brussels.
Planning a conference in Switzerland? Talk to Myriam first!
Follow-up interview in 20 years?
Manager Meetings & Incentives
Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau Switzerland Tourism
c/o Ambassade de Suisse
rue de la Loi 26 b9, B-1040 Brussels