AUSTRIA – 55 years of the Hofburg Vienna: taking stock and looking ahead
The second General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on 20 September 1958 launched the opening chapter in the Hofburg Vienna’s new life as a public conference and event centre. “55 years later, we will be marking this major milestone in the venue’s history with an excellent conference year and a whole host of innovations and new ideas,” explained Managing Director Renate Danler.
The first six months of 2013 saw a very strong start to the conference year, with a range of scientific conferences and high-profile political meetings on the calendar. Highlights included a number of large-scale conferences attracting up to 1,500 participants, such as the International Vienna Motor Symposium in April, the Vienna Energy Forum in May and the Congress on Sexually Transmitted Infections and Aids World Congress (14th IUSTI) in July. The Hofburg was also at the forefront of world politics with the Vienna+20 – Advancing the Protection of Human Rights Conference and the WHO European Ministerial Conference on Nutrition and Noncommunicable Diseases in the Context of Health 2020 in June. From January to July the international congress centre hosted 25 conferences and meetings, and a total of around 160 meetings overall.
The second half of the year got under way with two international corporate meetings. From 16-20 September weather experts from all over the world got together to discuss climate monitoring systems and the latest climate change trends at the Meteorological Satellite Conference (EUMETSAT). The Young Living conference followed straight after (21-22 September). Other highlights include the Pioneers Festival (30-31 October) with around 2,000 delegates, the IT & Consultant Day (28 November) and the DONKO Annual Meeting – this year entitled Beating Cancer Together (29-30 November). Autumn is traditionally a time for trade fairs such as the ACCESS show and exhibition (7-8 October), the Art & Antique Hofburg Vienna fair (9-17 November) and ReiseSalon (22-24 November). Gala events such as the Russian Business Gala (24 October) and the Falstaff Red Wine Gala (26 November) are among the popular get-togethers during autumn and the run-up to Christmas. The Hofburg Vienna’s very own Le Grand Bal at the Hofburg Vienna is the capital’s New Year ball highlight.
Ball guests can look forward to beautifully decorated state rooms, an incredible artistic programme and an exquisite gala dinner as part of a truly unforgettable evening, which will be themed L’Esprit Viennois this year.
“These events and the fixed bookings for 2014 and the years after that show us that intercultural themes and communications are playing an increasing role in today’s closely networked society,” Mrs Danler explained. Today the Hofburg Vienna has customers from more than 30 different nations worldwide. International conferences bring together numerous religions and cultures, which calls for a high degree of empathy and sensitivity – particularly when it comes to catering. “We meet these challenges with our own diversity management strategy, intercultural training and a clear focus on new high-potential markets,” she noted. Investment in fully redundant IT infrastructure sends a clear signal of the Hofburg Vienna’s commitment to expanding its hybrid meeting capabilities. “Large-scale conferences in particular are integrating these new channels into their communications activities, and we expect this trend to continue over the next few years,” said Mrs Danler of the company’s decision to sharpen its focus on e-communications.
The special anniversary year has also brought a number of IT and communications advances at the Hofburg Vienna. “In the first half of the year we invested heavily in the technology needed to support contemporary mobile working practices, as well as in new hardware and a number of exciting new hybrid services,” Mrs Danler reported. Now the Hofburg Vienna team can respond even more quickly no matter where they are, and offer unprecedented interaction between the centre and its customers.
The latest addition is Indoor Maps, an innovative project with Google. Until now users have been restricted to identifying places of interest on maps, calling up directions and looking at locations from the outside, but since the end of June owners of Android smartphones have been able to navigate the rooms and halls of the Hofburg Vienna using their handsets. Users can zoom in on the different layers of the map, switch between individual floors and even take a virtual tour of the premises. The new Hofburg Vienna website, based on responsive design, will go online in late autumn complete with new room and floor plans to assist event planning.