Mutschlechner: Vienna’s leading man announces retirement

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Christian Mutschlechner Christian Mutschlechner

The man who established Vienna’s position as a leading destination for international association meetings is retiring as director of the city’s convention bureau after three decades.

Christian Mutschlechner has served Vienna Convention Bureau for 27 years, in which time the Austrian capital has consistently been a top-three convention city, alongside Paris and Barcelona.

He will retire in February next year. His replacement Christian Woronka, 37, has been director of Cologne Convention Bureau for six years, focusing on digitisation and public relations.

Mutschlechner, who began his career as a professional congress organiser (PCO), has been a hugely influential figure in the meetings industry, championing new technology and meetings design.

He pioneered a radical system of ‘coopetition’ with Barcelona Convention Bureau, which eventually saw the meeting giants launching mutual bids, hosting consecutive international meetings.

But his personal career highlight was creating Vienna’s own city-wide meetings report, which details meetings related job creation, tax revenues, hotel overnights, and infrastructure developments. The 2017 report is a comparative study of the last 10 years and runs to 43 pages.

“I think these statistics are still unique in the international meetings industry and they are a key asset in our relations with policy makers and entirely independent of any third party like ICCA or UIA,” he said.

Mutschlechner said his time as a PCO played a crucial part in his success at the bureau, which is a department of Vienna Tourism Board.

“I wanted to provide at least the same level as service as you would expect in the private sector at the bureau. Many people think you send a client your material and that’s job done. For me the relationship with a client is never finished. You continually follow up to keep the relationship going and build trust. Now we have clients coming to us asking for advice on a whole range of issues.”

A former president of the International Congress and Convention Association, in 2010 Mutschlechner received the organisation's Moises Shuster award, one of the industry’s most prestigious honours. He was admitted to the 'Hall of Leaders' of the Convention Industry Council and was twice recipient of the IMEX Academy Award for Europe in 2013 and in 2015. Due to his dedication and contribution to Vienna’s convention business he was honoured with the City of Vienna’s Silver Medal.

However he would not be drawn on his plans for retirement.

“Until February, my focus is 200 per cent on Vienna Convention Bureau,” he said.

Vienna Tourist Board’s CEO Norbert Kettner said: “I would like to extend a warm welcome to Vienna to Christian Woronka. He will continue the successful work of his predecessor, maintain Vienna’s position as an international leader among congress metropolises, and place new emphasis on corporate meetings and digitization of the customer’s experience.”

James Lancaster
Written By
James Lancaster

AMI editor James Lancaster is a familiar face in the meetings industry and international association community. Since joining AMI in 2010, he has gained a reputation for asking difficult questions and getting lost in convention centres. Proofer, podcaster, and panellist - in his spare time, James likes to walk, read, listen to music, and drink beer.

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