Germany’s success as a meetings destination can be attributed to a trifecta of infrastructure, value, and expertise.
According to “Grass Roots Meetings Industry Report 2013,” European meeting rates for 2012 in Berlin were €79 and €80.50 in Frankfurt, (as compared with €118 in Paris). Compared with other European destinations, Germany also has very low hotel rates, averaging €94 as compared to the Europe average of €104, according with statistics from the German Federal Statistical Office. Berlin’s average hotel rate is €88 compared with €256 for Paris and €172 for London.
Visitors are taking notice of the country’s comparative strength as a destination. Germany is the most popular location for association conferences in Europe. According to the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), Germany hosted 649 ICCA-qualifying meetings in 2013. That puts it at No. 2 in the world after the United States, which hosted 833 meetings. Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich saw overnight stays increase last year, according to European Cities Marketing, the network of city tourist offices. Hamburg had an increase of 8.8 percent, Berlin had an increase of 7.8 percent, and Munich had an increase of 5.1 percent.
Many meeting and convention planners reach out to German experts to address their groups. It’s no wonder, as destinations in Germany are home to major companies and organizations in at least six areas: medicine and healthcare, transport and logistics, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, technology and innovation, energy and the environment, and financial services. The strategic business intelligence in these areas can be used to a meeting planner’s advantage.
“There are so many experts in Germany who planners can utilize as speakers for their conferences,” says Laura d’Elsa, regional director, U.S. and Canada, for the German Convention Bureau, based in New York City. “With local real-world experience, these resources prove to be invaluable.”
North American meeting planners have historically focused on Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich for meetings and incentives, although there are other smaller German cities to consider as well, says d’Elsa.
Iconic Driving Machines
The country’s famed automobiles also offer a memorable and unconventional theme for meetings and incentives in some of Germany’s smaller cities. Facilities such as the Porsche and Mercedes museums in Stuttgart and BMW Welt in Munich present unique venues for all types of events.
Groups are enjoying Southern Germany’s beautiful countryside in a new way in cities such as Stuttgart, Ingolstadt, and Munich. Event planning company Spillman can arrange for groups to fly into Munich and visit the BMW Museum and BMW Welt, where they can take part in tours focusing on the history and development of auto design. BMW features a delivery center where customers pick up their new cars, and boasts interactive exhibits that illustrate the research, development, design, and production, as well as conference rooms. After touring BMW’s main plant, group members can get behind the wheel or jump in a BMW headed to Inglostadt, home of Audi. The group will take a factory tour and peruse the Audi Museum. They will then trade their BMWs for Audis and head to Stuttgart where Porsche and Mercedes Benz are headquartered. They will choose one of these beauties to drive back to Munich. The drives along the Autobahn will thrill, as there is no speed limit in Germany. “Car incentives are uniquely German,” says d’Elsa.