Making history with surprising venues

Capitalising on its historical attractions and automotive industry, the state of Saxony is opening up its unique spaces to meetings, functions and incentives

Dresden Skyline at night. Photo by Sebastian Rose

As Germany has been receiving an increasing volume of longhaul business travel out of Asia, the state of Saxony is now mobilising its wealth of historical sites and resources in its automobile industry to draw Asian corporates.

In 2017, business arrivals from Asia to Saxony posted double-figure increases. Mainland China and Hong Kong accounted for 48,700 visitors in 2017 as the state’s top Asian source market, with a year-on-year jump of 38 per cent. Japan and Korea placed second and third.

Dresden Skyline at night. Photo by Sebastian Rose

This “promising market” has brought with it “big demand for different (business) functions”, explained Dorothea Schäffler, international marketing, Tourism Marketing Company of Saxony.

These developments have been especially prominent in the cities of Dresden and Leipzig, where business tourism has become crucial to increasing international visitors’ overnight stays as well as F&B expenditure, observed Schäffler. In 2017, Leipzig reached a record 3.2 million international overnight stays.

As a result, both cities have seen more historical sites – such as castles and museums – branching out “beyond their primary purpose” to host functions and banquets.

Saxony’s vibrant automotive industry has also made it a prime destination for corporate enthusiasts and incentive experiences. Schäffler shared with TTGmice that more groups have been spicing up their incentive or meeting programmes with unique activities such as test-driving sports cars at Leipzig’s Porsche circuits, and touring the iconic Volkswagen Transparent Factory in Dresden.

Encouraged by these burgeoning developments, the Dresden Convention Bureau is channelling efforts toward growing the Chinese business segment. In 2017 and 2018, the bureau partnered with the German Convention Bureau on a WeChat campaign to reach Chinese planners. In April 2019, Dresden will conduct a China Summit marketing event and possibly hold a roadshow or exhibition in China.

Neighbouring Leipzig supports business event planners through Leipzig Tourism and Marketing, which provides information about event and dining venues, transport and interpretation services as well as other supporting programmes.

Leipzig has also created Feel the spirit… do-it-at-leipzig.de, a congress initiative designed to present Leipzig as the place to meet in a matter of a few clicks through this virtual site inspection. This is a network of some 50 industry partners – including congress and event venues, conference hotels, service agencies, local PCOs and logistics partners – available on a service portal. A 360-degree Virtual Site Inspection is also available on the site offering panoramic views of Leipzig’s venues.

Volker Bremer, CEO of Leipzig Tourism and Marketing, credited this initiative, as well as the success of large-scale events like the Chaos Communication Congress, for helping Leipzig reach three million international overnight stays in 2017.

In 2019, Leipzig will expand its range of international events, including the LINC Asia-Pacific congress in March, and the ITF International Transport Forum in May.

Leipzig Tourism and Marketing’s head of MICE department, Hiskia Wiesner, said: “We have a strong cooperation with the German Convention Bureau and its representative based in Beijing, as China is our most important business market in Asia. We are planning promotional activities such as participating in a roadshow, as well as public relations about Leipzig as a conference and MICE destination via newsletters and WeChat.”

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