Anne Pedersen of the London Office of the Swiss C&IB says that the outlook is much more positiveIt might be a surprise to find that the person who deals with the media at the London Office of the Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau is actually Danish. However, Anne Pedersen soon leaves you in no doubt that she is not only dedicated to promoting Switzerland, but has all the knowledge needed to do that.
Anne admits that the recession has made things tough, but she is now able to say that the conditions for group business to Switzerland are looking much more positive.
‘That can be seen in the numbers of enquiries we are now receiving’, she says. ‘This winter we had excellent snow conditions and we found that pure ski incentives started returning.
‘New leisure business is coming from markets such as China and India’, she reports, ‘and I am confident that those areas will be sources of groups business now that we have put dedicated MICE marketing people there. But the European and American markets are also showing signs of coming back’.
If the recession in Europe is still biting, how does she account for the signs of improvement? ‘There is definitely a feeling’, she suggests, ‘that people have really earned rewards. Times have been tough for us all and survival means that companies have been well served by their staff and no one is going to point fingers if they are seen to be appreciated.
‘In my opinion many enterprises have definitely had the money for incentives, but have been wary of being seen to have too good a time during dark days. Now they are saying that it is time to say thank you in a meaningful way.’
She adds: ‘Incentive trips are much higher profile than cash bonuses. They mean so much more to the award winners and their families and colleagues’.
Anne also points out, however, that incentive groups to Switzerland are much more affordable than might be imagined. She believes that an impression of high cost for ski-ing incentives might be because people are aware of the prices during the high seasons in the most famous resorts.
‘If group organisers come to us and we together look into the possibilities, they can be pleasantly surprised. All Switzerland has beautiful scenery to offer. Within an hour’s travel in the country the scenery can vary from impressive mountains to endless tranquil lakes or delightful village meadows.
‘Groups don’t have to choose the most popular places or the most popular times of the year. They will never be disappointed wherever they go.’
The venues and destinations in Switzerland have not been cutting prices but have been offering added value for money.
‘Quality’, maintains Anne, ‘is always paramount. That is agreed by the Government, the regions and al the suppliers. Switzerland is known for that and will always preserve that reputation.’