A foamy-topped Latte awaits at the Cafe Savoy

Let’s start today’s chat at Café Central, where we can take in an expresso, a lemon torte, a warm apple strudel, and the pleasant din of fashionistas, artists, intelligencia, and piano music swirling aloft in the vaulted art nouveau ceiling.  While the fine china and pastries arrive on our marble table, I’ll confide a shocking production tale with you: our show went as smooth as a Viennese Cream Slice. Welcome to my 9th blog about three of my passions: event production, sustainability and fine food and beverages. This adventure takes us to Vienna, Austria and our conference at the Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Center.

 A successful show is not an accident. With a gratuitous nod to our Austrian friend Sigmund Freud, let us analyze what went right…

• Dedicated Venue Staff. The Messe Wien demonstrated their commitment to excellence by dispatching catering, IT, and management staff to spend a day with us during our 2016 event. They continued to prove how much they cared about our conference throughout the year – kudos to Martina Candillo and Christine Schlagbauer for answering over 1,000 e-mails, always with patience and grace. 

• One Master Floor plan. There is almost nothing better than a blend of voices singing from the same page! From the beginning, all departments and external vendors had access to one master plan that captured room set-ups, AV, staging details, catering set-ups, and exhibit hall stands. When I am archduchess, every venue will offer a single cross-departmental plan.  Thank you CAD man Martin Kreidl, for helping us all work in harmony.

Messe Wien Congress Center

• Outstanding IT. DrupalCon, a tech conference attended by hard-core web developers, historically strains the limits of venue WiFi. Wolfgang Lehner at Kapsch, in partnership with our IT consultant Will Jones from Pylon One, delivered a flawless network experience, a remarkable performance considering how hard we tried to foil them.

• Sustainability. Making this a green event was as effortless as a Viennese waltz. The Messe follows the Austrian Eco-Label Guidelines UZ 62 for Green Meetings and Green Events, created by the Austrian Environment Ministry in 1990. Yes, that’s more than 20 years before the U.S. ASTM/APEX green meeting standards were published. These guidelines set environmental and social standards for both shows and show management.  The Messe Wien is an ideal partner for producing a certified and compliant green meeting, because many of the UZ62 criteria are already fulfilled by the venue – a modern building designed for environmental efficiency and performance.

• A seasoned team. Our team has years of experience working well together under high pressure scenarios and meeting tight deadlines. It also helps that we have a work-hard/play-hard culture and love to explore together in the off hours. In Vienna we spent a night in The Prater, clinking bier steins at the Schweizerhaus, eating pretzels at Wiener Wiesn Fest, and riding the adrenalin producing Black Mamba – which will get your heart pounding harder than starting a plenary without a rehearsal. We visited audio heaven, taking in a Mozart Orchestra konzert at the Musikverein’s Golden Hall, known for its world class acoustics and stunningly beautiful golden interior. We learned so much and had so much fun touring the Naschmarkt, then preparing Austrian wedding soup, Wiener Schnitzel and other traditional fare in the home of foodie tour guide and chef Andrea Beck from Vienna Cooking Tours.

Our partners were very much part of our winning ensemble. Thank you to Florian Wacht at StandOut, our exhibition partner, Mischa Volavsek with Steiner AV, and Andrea Jann, our fantastic catering manager at Gerstner.

WU Library – designed by Zaha Hadid

Vienna’s Congress Center was a perfect setting for our event. The city is beautiful, rich in culture, and easy to explore by foot or metro. The architecturally wondrous WU campus, The Prater and many excellent restaurants are just a short walk away, and the adjacent Messe Prater metro station is a quick and easy gateway to other parts of the city.

On our closing night, we celebrated at The Sign Lounge, an award-winning cocktail bar.  There we tried the highly original Malbrett, which invites you to dabble in mixology with brushes, and strawberry, grapefruit and cucumber ‘paint’.  I opted for a Nicobar India Pale Ale from Austria’s Brauhaus-Gusswerk. Did you know that Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner lectured on bio-dynamic farming back in the 1920s? While it makes this green girl happy the Nicobar Ale comes from sustainably-farmed ingredients, it was the beautiful amber color, creamy white foam and smoky caramel flavor that escorted me on my way to a fun and memorable night on the town. Until next time…



If you enjoyed this post – you can find more adventures in green events here.

The Malbrett: Tanqueray, Elderflower Liquor, Lemon Juice, Soda and childhood memories, served with brushes and strawberry, grapefruit, & cucumber paint.