Anja “Tsunami” Loetscher, director of the Geneva Convention Bureau, looks ahead as she prepares to step down.
On hearing that Anja Loetscher (pictured) was awarded the Paul Flackett IMEX Academy Award at IMEX Frankfurt in May, Communiqué wanted to catch up with the industry advocate to find out what lies ahead.
Congratulations on your award at IMEX Frankfurt. What’s happening right now with you?
I’m planning my next move! Although I am officially retiring in August I have already had some time away and I’m only coming into the office when I need to. My successor, Didier Allaz, is doing a fantastic job of getting up to speed with life at the Geneva Convention Bureau and there will be exciting developments to come.
What does the future look like?
I’m really interested in how things have moved on in our industry already and what will happen next. We’re now talking about the impact of an event and how sharing knowledge and resources can benefit everyone involved. In recent years Geneva has worked around a model of “What can people share when they come to Geneva?” We’ve been exceptionally fortunate to have had the joint forces of the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Office, and the Geneva Convention Board come together and promote the benefits of events and meetings here. My dream for the future would be for all three to share an office and then really feel the full force of collaborative working.
One collaborative effort is Geneva’s Ambassador Programme. What sets it apart?
In our ambassadors we look for between 25 and 30 people drawn from different facets of life in Geneva and from across the many sectors where Geneva has particular strength. We look for a good mix of people with different skills, but most importantly over their two-year appointed stewardship, they must be active in their efforts. We ask them to meet directly with our clients and talk to them about how holding their event in Geneva directly influenced their success.
Returning to the future, who influenced your thinking on that?
My father was a diplomat and we were fortunate enough to live all over the world. I was brought up in Ethiopia and didn’t even come to Europe until my 40s, so I think that experience must have influenced my decision to work in this travel-rich industry. I have also been involved in hotels and hospitality in my earlier career as well as working for destination companies and holding a professional coaching degree. In Australia I gained my pilot’s licence and in my so-called retirement I am moving to Munich, a city I know well, as well as developing leadership retreats in India. By the way, my nickname in Geneva in “Tsunami” because apparently, I am one! I just can’t sit still!