Groups Love Germany

This destination offers value, expertise, and strong infrastructure.

germany destination

Berlin Boosts Meetings
By Joy Anderson

Thanks to a vibrant art and cultural scene, Berlin has become a hot spot for leisure and corporate travelers alike. “The biggest news here in the capital is the renaissance of Berlin West,” says Virginia Giordano, founder and owner of Culture Trip, a luxury travel-planning company based in Berlin. “You can feel the energy and observe the growth everywhere.”

Well suited to corporate meeting and incentive groups, the Das Stue has 80 guest rooms and suites in five categories (property buyouts are also possible). Because this hotel is also next to the Berlin Zoo, there are many whimsical animal-themed artifacts and artwork, especially in the public spaces (and real ostriches and antelopes right outside the back windows). The extremely cool hotel bar has quickly become a destination for well-to-do Berliners and curious visitors.

West on the Kurfuerstendamm is the fashionable Charlottenburg neighborhood — a straight shot from most of the major hotels in City West. Meeting groups know it as the home of ICC (International Congress Center) Berlin. ICC Berlin has been undergoing an extensive renovation, with a state-of-the-art multi-functional congress and trade-fair facility — CityCube Berlin — which has been under construction, and scheduled to open this year. Located adjacent to ICC Berlin, CityCube Berlin will be able to accommodate up to 10,000 attendees. This means that when ICC Berlin reopens, Messe Berlin Conventions will be able to offer double the meeting capacity. With demand for Berlin meetings at the current rate, the destination should likely have no problem filling both venues.

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.