By Lane Nieset
Being cooped up in a convention centre with artificial light and sugary snacks is enough to make any attendee feel stressed. But venues like Messe Wien Exhibitions & Congress Center are looking to promote a sense of well-being at events. Following guidelines from the World Obesity Federation, the Vienna centre earned the title of Austria’s first “Healthy Venue” — one of just four such venues in Europe. We spoke to Benedikt Binder-Krieglstein, CEO of Reed Exhibitions, which runs Messe Wien, to learn how healthier congresses are key to attracting association events to a city and how a venue can help promote wellbeing.
What does it mean for the venue to be considered a “pioneer” in the field of healthy events?
For Reed Exhibitions, the operator of Messe Wien, this was a huge honour, but also a mandate for the future to further develop our venue accordingly and in all aspects.
Why was it important that Messe Wien Exhibitions & Congress Center obtain the official status as a “Healthy Venue?”
As leaders in innovation, we believe sustainability to be one of our prime goals aside from staying ahead in business. Messe Wien already benefits from its ideal location in the urban setting of Vienna’s town centre, with direct access to public transport. Yet, the venue is surrounded by the city’s biggest green area, the Wiener Prater, and can easily [offer] outdoor recreation during or after events. The official award, therefore, is like a seal of approval for what we already offer and deliver day to day. It also enables us to better promote Messe Wien for staging and hosting healthy events.
What type of response are you seeing both from organizers and attendees in regard to healthier options? Was there a strong demand or need for healthier events in Austria?
The demand for healthy events is just starting to pick up. However, it is my strong belief that in the future, we will be seeing a lot more applications. We need to understand what healthy means in a more holistic way — and for the venue as a whole. This means delivering healthy catering, sustainable energy, green transportation, but also making much more use of our green surroundings.
How does Messe Wien Exhibitions & Congress Center hope to inspire and influence other venues across the country and continent?
Being a pioneer [requires] courage and trust in the decision you’ve made. These are characteristics that we very much see as part of our own DNA. Moreover, there is a lot of energy in that [role], one that we can now use for inspiring others. I do hope that the title will encourage the meetings and events industry to start contributing their share to ecological sustainability. Best practices help as well, such as the recent 20th AC Forum Annual Meeting (17-19 Jan.), where we had the chance to show our capabilities and present many of the venue’s healthy features to our guests.