Messe Wien’s Martina Candillo on Budgets and Better Infrastructure

The director of congresses and events sees solving for higher costs as a balancing act.

Author: Jennifer N. Dienst       

Messe Wien convention center

From Sept. 28-30, the Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Center in Vienna, Austria will host PCMA Convening EMEA 2022. (David Faber)

The business events industry, at large, is comprised of women — 77 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But some spaces are quite the opposite, particularly facility management, where just 21 percent are women, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We’re spotlighting women who have worked their way up to the top spots at convention centers around the world, and up next is Martina Candillo, director of congresses and events at Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Center in Vienna, Austria.

Martina Candillo headshot

Martina Candillo

In addition to your skills and capabilities, to what would you attribute your success in a male-dominated sector of the business events industry? What attracted you to this side of the business?

I am outgoing and love to get to know and talk to people of all kinds of backgrounds. I don’t mind adapting to different situations and see them as chances to learn and collaborate.

Now that groups are coming back, what’s different? For example, are you noticing that groups are using the space differently than pre-pandemic? Are groups offering different programming (maybe fewer sessions and more white space)? Or are there other kinds of different attendee behavior that stands out to you?

Planners want to bring more local flavor into the program to enrich the in-person experience on site. We see that sessions are shorter, and more time and space is allocated to networking. There is also more focus on how content is presented.

How are you accommodating groups with hybrid programs? Can you share any changes or investments you’ve made in new technology to meet this need?

To meet the higher technological standards for seamless live streaming at hybrid events, it is important for a venue to invest in powerful Wi-Fi and internet infrastructure. Messe Wien did just that and recently invested in Wi-Fi 6 [editor’s note: considered a higher, faster standard of wireless internet] throughout the venue, with data transfer rates of up to 20,000 [megabits].

How are you navigating the rise in costs and working with clients who have a stricter budget (especially F&B)?

It would be great if we can get on board early in the budgeting process. Not all venues have the same business models and whereas one venue has more flexibility regarding F&B pricing, another one might have more flexibility regarding rental fees or other services. Finding the right balance could be achieved by talking openly about the challenges on both sides and having the flexibility to find compromises.

Jennifer N. Dienst is senior editor at Convene.


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Find more stories from Convene Senior Editor Jennifer N. Dienst’s continuing series on women leaders at convention centers.

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