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Vienna 2010 Conference Stats

The number of congresses and corporate events held in Vienna in 2010 was 14% up on 2009’s figure. The value-added which they generated rose by 4% to a new record level, whilst bednights from this segment declined by 3%. Vice-Mayor Renate Brauner, Managing Director of the Vienna tourist Board Norbert Kettner and Director of the Vienna Convention Bureau Christian Mutschlechner reported on the results of Vienna’s congress year 2010 at a press conference on Thursday, April 14, 2011. The 2010 Vienna Congress Survey drawn up by Martina Stoff-Hochreiner presented at the press conference highlighted trends in Vienna’s congress business as well as the ways in which congress guests utilize and evaluate the Austrian capital. A third of them described Vienna as the best congress destination.

"A total of 2,934 national and international congresses and corporate events were held in Vienna in 2010, a 14% increase on the year 2009. The nationwide value-added which they generated rose by 4% to a new record level of EUR 767.8 million, whereas a total of 1,336,291 bednights in this segment was 3% down on the comparable figure for 2009," Vice-Mayor Brauner summarized Vienna‘s conference results for 2010. "The reasons for this discrepancy in the development of bednights compared to the other indicators," Brauner continued, "are to be found in the world-wide change observed for several years now in delegate behavior at international congresses, which play a dominant role in Vienna‘s convention business. Delegates now rarely travel to congresses in company, and are increasingly reluctant to extend their stay in the destination city before or after their congresses."

As a consequence of this development, Brauner states: "In the future it will only be possible to achieve substantial growth in bednights by increasing the number of events. The congress cities that will succeed will therefore be those that have suitable infrastructures, whose conference industries offers first-class services, and that are particularly efficient at acquisition. Vienna is optimally qualified in this respect: not only has the city made provision for the future by investing in its congress infrastructure, it also has a hospitality sector perfectly attuned to the needs of the congress sector and a host of Viennese enterprises specializing in the conference industry and offering highly professional expertise coupled with many years of experience. Vienna owes its excellent reputation world-wide as a congress destination - not to mention the almost permanent high rankings which it has occupied in the international congress statistics for decades now - to all of these factors, and not least also to the Vienna Tourist Board’s Vienna Convention Bureau with its many international awards. What is more, all the events connected with Vienna’s conference industry in 2010 secured about 15,000 full-time jobs."

International congresses still biggest earners even with bednights down

 

Director of Tourism Norbert Kettner explained: "Vienna recorded a 10.3% rise in total bednights last year, whereas the conference sector reported a reduction in traffic: the percentage of the total volume of bednights which this sector accounted for therefore declined to 12%. Since both national congresses and corporate events generated more bednights, although international congresses were definitely the cause of this decline, they were still the biggest earners for the economy as a whole. Although they represented just 20% of all events, they attracted almost half, or 49%, of all delegates, generating 69% of bednights, and above all 77% of Vienna’s total value-added attributable to congress and convention business. They were also responsible for the high average total spending which Vienna’s congress and convention delegates made in Vienna in 2010. This amounted to EUR 475 per person and bednight, whereas the comparable figure for all visitors to Vienna was about EUR 270."

Over and about their immediate impact, some international congresses also represent valuable advertising for Vienna as a destination for private travelers. The International AIDS Conference was the highlight of Vienna’s congress calendar in 2010, and was just one example which Kettner mentioned. "Not only did it attract 19,300 delegates from 139 countries to Vienna and a further ten congresses in the lead-up that were reflected in 141,000 bednights," he explained. "It also brought some 2,500 international journalists to Vienna. Their intensive reporting focused not only on the conference itself, but also a great deal on Vienna as a city worth visiting, where tolerance and cosmopolitanism are very much alive."

Record levels of nationwide value-added and tax revenues

Of the 2,934 events held in Vienna in 2010 (+14%), 935 were congresses (+6%), of which 579 were international (+4%) and 356 national congresses (+9%), as well as 1,999 corporate events (+18%). The nationwide value-added which they generated totaled EUR 767.8 million (+4%), the highest level ever achieved. They produced tax revenues totaling EUR 213.8 million, of which EUR 104.4 million went to the federal government, EUR 25.8 million to Vienna, and the remainder to the other Austrian provinces and local authorities. The value-added calculated by Martina Stoff-Hochreiner, management consultant and lecturer at Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, takes all domestic turnover into account. In addition to direct spending by event delegates, organizers, exhibitors and companions, the calculation also includes spending in "upstream" sectors (e.g. building industry, food, beverage and tobacco industry, printing industry, banks, insurance companies, communications agencies, etc.).

Survey shows congresses hardly used for tourism

Every five years, the Vienna Tourist Board commissions Stoff-Hochreiner to analyze Vienna’s national and international congresses to highlight developments in this sector, allowing trends for the future to be predicted and corresponding strategies to be drawn up for marketing the congress destination. Between October 2009 and October 2010, the firm of Triconsult Ges.m.b.H. carried out personal interviews with a total of 4,114 individuals (3,715 congress delegates and 399 exhibitors) at 35 congresses (26 international, 9 national) at 16 conference venues for the survey which Stoff-Hochreiner presented at the press conference.

"The most remarkable results include those with a direct impact on bednights," she explained. "This related primarily to the number of accompanying persons, which has fallen sharply. Whereas in 1991 just over every second congress delegate came in company, by 2010 this applied to only one in six delegates. Over the period 1991 to 2010 there was also a marked decrease in the average length of stay, from 7.3 to 4.6 days. In 2010 for the first time, this indicator was even identical with average congress duration. It is now the exception for a delegate to extend his or her stay, a situation aggravated by delegates who do not even stay for the entire congress. Time has become a rare commodity, as indicated by the question as to what might prevent an individual from attending a congress at all: 68% of respondents mentioned lack of time, whereas only 49% stated a shortage of funds. All these trends are clearly manifested in Vienna’s results for 2010: they are prevalent world-wide and will continue."

"This is also clearly apparent from other details of this survey," confirms Christian Mutschlechner, Director of the Vienna Convention Bureau. "Everything points to the fact that - from the delegate’s point of view - congresses have largely lost any tourist value, and are perceived almost entirely as professional engagements. The effect of this attitude is reflected not only in the decline in the number of accompanying persons and extended stays, but also in the activities of delegates during the congress. We have seen a significant drop in participation in the official supporting programs arranged by congress organizers. Whereas in 2004 some 75% of congress delegates took advantage of them, in 2010 this figure was just 53%. Delegates prefer to use their time for professional activities. 17% stated that they spend significantly more time on meetings and further education programs than they used to: this figure is further relativized by 28% who have not yet been attending congresses for long enough to be able to make a comparison. The same trend is revealed by the indicators of what is important in a congress. 52% of delegates considered congresses a very important opportunity for networking, 44% as a discussion platform, and 43% as educational events. On the other hand, only 20% attached much importance to the tourism aspects."

Attractive destination swings balance in competition with rivals

However, Mutschlechner also went on to say that: "This certainly does not mean that the qualities of a destination over and above its congress facilities are no longer of any significance. In the acquisition of congresses, they may be one of the factors that swing the balance when competing with a rival city. Winning new business is essential, as I have already mentioned, so we are very glad to have strong arguments up our sleeve in this respect, as interviewees have given Vienna top ratings both as a congress destination and as a city in general."

This is reflected by the survey. Exactly a third of interviewees described Vienna as the best congress destination there is, while it was a preferred congress venue for 61%: only 6% did not share these views. Amongst the advantages of Vienna, 50% mentioned the flair of the city, 25% its central location and function as a business centre, and 18% its efficient congress management. Vienna is also highly regarded as a city in general. 51% of interviewees gave it the top ranking of "very good", 48% a rating of "good", and only 1% opted for "less good". This is also very probably the reason for the large number of delegates intending to pay a private visit at a later date. 11% were already making firm plans for a private visit to Vienna, and 62% were considering such a visit.

Favorite recreational activities: shopping and visiting museums

Some 85% of congress delegates stayed in hotels, 7% in pensions, and 8% had private accommodations. Accommodation costs of 24% were the largest item of their domestic expenditure, followed by travel costs to and from Vienna (21%) and congress fees (18%). Shopping accounted for 14% of their expenditure, food for 10%, and cultural and recreational activities for 6%. As far as accommodations were concerned, there was a trend towards four-star establishments, which increased their share to 49% (compared to 43% in 2004), whilst luxury hotels shrank to 19% (compared to 24% in 2004).

The majority of delegates traveled by air (76%), with only 11% travelling by car and 10% by train. In Vienna itself, public transport is the main means of getting around, both to the congress venue (72%) and for other journeys (75%), though many also walked (24% and 29% respectively), and only a few took taxis (12% and 18% respectively). Shopping was congress delegates’ favorite recreational activity, with 52% indulging in it, 19% visited museums, 13% strolled around the city, 10% went to the opera and 5% to concerts. As far as sightseeing was concerned, St. Stephen‘s Cathedral was most popular with 9%, followed by Schönbrunn Palace with 6%. 4% each visited the Imperial Palace, the Albertina, the MuseumsQuartier, the Giant Ferris Wheel and the Belvedere. 6% took advantage of their trip to Vienna to visit friends. During the day, the majority of congress delegates dined at the congress venue (73%), whereas in the evenings they frequented restaurants in the city (93%).