Organizing safe meetings in Vienna – a best practice example

The Vienna Tourist Board proved just how much is possible, even in these difficult times, at the 2020 Vienna Tourism Conference. "The successful staging of the 2020 Vienna Tourism Conference at the Hofburg sent out an important signal for Vienna as a destination for meetings," explained Christian Woronka, Head of the Vienna Convention Bureau. "Strict safety precautions and the use of innovative measures mean that it is possible to host meetings where participants are physically present, even in the current difficult circumstances," he concluded on an optimistic note. Thanks to the new set-up, a group of experts from the worlds of business and science were able to discuss potential routes out of the crisis and the contribution Vienna's visitor economy can make to the sustainable and resilient development of the destination.

Rapid tests for all participants

The on-site event was made possible by a joined-up prevention plan that put participant safety first. Its specifics were defined with the expert support of Prof. Hans-Peter Hutter, Deputy Head of the Department of Environmental Health at the Medical University of Vienna. Universal testing for Covid-19 was one of the core aspects of the wide-ranging safety plan. All participants were tested using a rapid Covid-19 antigen test, in a process that called for careful preparation and expertly coordinated logistics.

Testing lanes in front of the Hofburg

To support the testing process, two testing lanes were set up during the afternoon before the event outside the main entrance to the congress center. All 200 attendees were tested within a three-hour window. The rapid antigen tests proved highly efficient: results were displayed after a maximum of 15 minutes or, in the majority of cases, significantly less. Testing was just one of numerous safety measures put in place for the event.

Effective communication at every level

emperature screening and additional air filtration units were another element of the prevention plan, as was a designated on-site Covid-19 officer working alongside employees and contractors who received special training for the event. Effective communication at every level was another key ingredient behind the event's success. All of the measures were explained in detail to participants in the invitations. Signs were clearly positioned in all parts of the Hofburg, from the cloakrooms to the WCs. The seating layout in the Festsaal was also carefully considered, with the chairs arranged in a chessboard pattern to ensure a minimum distance of one meter was observed. Each participant was assigned their own seat. The number of on-site participants was also reduced: the Vienna Tourism Conference welcomed 200 visitors this year, compared with over 500 in other years. The pragmatic solution? A hybrid event.

Lots of virtual participants

Those with an interest in participating from afar could follow the conference via a live stream and compare notes with others through a digital avatar in a virtual version of the Festsaal. In all, around 1,000 people took up the opportunity to participate in this way, and were also invited to join in a virtual networking session with Director of Tourism Norbert Kettner and tourism consultant, travel journalist and author Doug Lansky, who gave a keynote and revealed his optimism for the future. His chosen topic was A Smart Rebound from Corona Will Help Futureproof Tourism

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for further information on safe meetings in Vienna, contact the Vienna Convention Bureau by e-mail at .

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