Good signals

Geneva is one of Switzerland’s busiest meeting cities. By Angela Antrobus

The annual World Economic Forum when global moguls and leaders descend on the ski resort of Davos is the one that grabs headlines, but Switzerland is chosen for plenty more prestigious meetings not only for beautiful backdrops of mountains and lakes.

It has a reputation for safety, stability, efficiency, and sustainability,

It’s a financial services heavyweight and knowledge and business hub, recognised for its expertise in precision engineering, as in clocks and watches, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and agriculture - Swiss dairy products from cheese to chocolate are famous world-wide.

International organisations are based there, such as the Red Cross in Geneva, also home to the United Nations European headquarters, and the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne.

Its small size and central location in Europe are in its favour for business events. Overseas visitors can access any city easily from one of the four major airports - distances are short and trains run very efficiently.

 It’s also known for its high cost of living.

“Switzerland is a premium destination but definitely affordable, depending on the organiser’s objectives,” says Barbra Albrecht, head of Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau. “VAT is very low. Venues are often in walking distance of hotels and, if not, public transport is usually included. We recommend organisers send us their requirements so we can put a proposal together and then compare all elements and values, besides price only.”

One of the busiest event cities is Geneva, on the French border, with magnificent views across Lake Geneva to the Alps. As it recovers from the pandemic, David Cougoule, senior manager - associations and conventions at Geneva Convention Bureau (GCB), explains, “Most tourism sectors were able to survive the crisis with governmental support. We have good signals from the industry and many associations are now willing to risk in-person events. Average prices are also lower than before. For all these reasons we remain cautious but optimistic!”

 When bidding for conferences, the bureau concentrates on the finance, medical and science clusters where Geneva is a world leader. It helps clients gain access to local experts, get government support and helps in organising sustainable events.

Last year, local technical know-how triumphed when the city hosted 8,000 delegates entirely online at the International Liver Congress, streamed from five studios set up in a farmhouse in the middle of local vineyards.

It’s a financial services heavyweight and knowledge and business hub, recognised for its expertise in precision engineering.

In 2020, when it became obvious creative new ways of meeting were needed, the GCB joined other cities to launch the Hybrid City Alliance, a global partnership committed to providing meetings professionals with the tools required to implement hybrid and multiple hub events.

 The European Association for Osseointegration has chosen hybrid for its 29th congress in September, this year, in Geneva’s Palexpo congress and exhibition centre.

The city’s most anticipated infrastructure development is the new CERN Science Gateway. From next year, events for up to 1,000 people will take place in five different spaces including a large auditorium.

Ten top centres
Swiss Convention Centres is an alliance of Switzerland’s ten largest and best equipped convention and exhibition centres with sufficient hotel accommodation in the vicinity. The members are in Basel, Bern, Davis, Geneva, Interlaken, Lausanne, Lucerne, Lugano, Montreux and Zürich.

Full details at