Berlin. Historically, commercially and culturally one of Europe’s iconic destinations and venue for the Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel Global Meeting Exchange, an event where properties and agencies meet and learn about latest developments, trends and network.
Rachel from the Events Design team attended and, being her first time to Berlin, had a brief to report back on first impressions of the city and its suitability for corporate conference, meetings and incentive events. Here’s an overview of her intense four days.
“Our base was the Swissotel Berlin, located in the heart of West Berlin and close to the business district, the superb shopping on Ku’damm and handily close to the Tiergarten. The event was geared around business and my itinerary was jam packed with meetings, networking and some leisure activities, every minute seemed accounted for!
The transfer to the hotel was a great eye-opener, and immediately seeing the mix of past and present, where culture meets business and hints of past, historic events was exciting and sparked my interest to find out more. Arriving at the hotel I was immediately impressed with its relaxed and modern feeling, however, no time to settle, it was off to the “around the world” buffet to meet the other delegates and hosts. I did play safe here, the food was superb and I totally over indulged on American cuisine, although I did politely pass on the snake and crocodile stew representing Australia. That would have been great for our Food Festival though!
Berlin, Cabaret or Any Style = Efficient, Effective Meetings
Meetings were held around the hotel, and my day one initial scary look at the length and intensity of the business sessions proved unfounded. In many places having the business day start at 7.45 with breakfast sessions, and a fast-flowing programme running through lunch and into the early evening in many different rooms would be an exhausting two day programme. Here, though the environment, the Swissotel, exuded calm, the use of technology, and the organisation ensured the days flew by. Use of light was fantastic, there is a lot of natural light in all meeting spaces and other lighting is soft and thoughtful. The ambience was reinforced through the artworks and decoration, we had vitality lunches (designed to energise and refuel, no chips here!), and we had prompts for when sessions were to start, and everything started on time. For example, the announcement that team building sessions were “going to start in three minutes”, meant in three minutes they would start. Being able to rely on this was another way of creating a productive environment and reducing the chance of mental fatigue.
Technology featured throughout our stay, and the professional event app, on the loaned iPads, had every detail and question covered, aiding the seamless flow of the sessions, at least for those who are on top of tech and what it can do for you. The user experience was superb, although some still yearned for folders, pen and paper I reckon.
Spies, Wigs and Traffic Light Men. Only in Berlin
Away from the business sessions we experienced the real character of Berlin, and it more than lived up to what I anticipated. My experience at the renowned Pan Am lounge was typical. I knew what to expect, but being there was just something else altogether, a little like Berlin in general. I can’t think of many places where such a concept could be conceived and take-off! I loved it how we were thrown back into the world of 70’s aviation, as if someone had shut the door on a 40 year old airport lounge, had to dress up, wigs included, and go all retro for the night, a great way to integrate a group of differing nationalities and cultures.
Other highlights were the inevitable spy games, but yet again it was the context that made it such a Berlin experience. So, for instance our briefing was at an old East German airfield, that is now allotments, open spaces and had people walking their dogs around. And amongst this was our group, practising on our Segways, test driving our Trabants, seeing our secret instructions, all while dodging the odd rain shower or two. Surreal, but the mix of bringing the history into the present with clues on tablets, seeing the key parts of Berlin on foot and by Trabbie, interacting with ‘spies’ in dark glasses and out of the way locations and swapping envelopes, was a fab way to experience the city. Here’s a thing that struck me, the different traffic light men from the east and west still remain, a small and poignant reminder of recent history.
"You never know what is around the corner"
Four days went in a flash, yet every hour was filled. I learned a lot about Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel Hotels and Resorts, and about Berlin itself. It certainly has an appeal for European corporate conference and meeting events, and also for incentive travel events. The Swissotel Berlin was the perfect business base, and in the city there is so much variety there was always something going on. The best bit is I felt that with Berlin you never know what is going to be around the corner and that makes it fun, memorable, and you leave the city wanting to return to discover more.
If you would like to see some of the sights and settings Rachel experienced and the Swissotel Berlin, then head off to our handy Business Time in Berlin Pinterest board