How an idea turns into an unforgettable event

– Hundreds of events are staged every year at Zurich Convention Center. They each require a great deal of organization, sometimes lasting for weeks and relying upon a great deal of know-how. Chiara Andreoli is the Senior Congress & Event Manager at Zurich Convention Center, and she ensures that every event runs smoothly. In this interview, she tells us why she’s so passionate about her job and what it takes to plan a successful event.

What appeals to you when it comes to planning an event?

Seeing something grow from an idea to its implementation. There’s always an idea to begin with, and a successful event at the end. On every occasion, the path that leads from one to the other is a journey requiring passion and lots of discipline. It’s a bit like a gruelling climb to the top of a mountain and then standing on the summit and enjoying the view – there’s nothing quite like it.

What’s the first thing to watch out for when planning an event?

You should begin by clarifying what the event is meant to achieve. Who are the guests? What size of room will this require? Might you even need several rooms? No matter what kind of event it is, I’d definitely recommend inspecting the venue at the earliest opportunity. This will provide you with some good insights and show you whether the premises should actually be considered for this event.

How do you organize the technology that’s needed for an event?

When it comes to technology, there are seldom any limits from an organizational perspective. In principle, anything is possible, regardless of whether it’s a convention, workshop or wedding. The choice of technology usually depends on the budget. When deciding about this, I’d definitely always rely on the support of experts. Many things might be difficult for laypeople to grasp, but they’re no problem whatsoever for professionals. And before plans are buried as being too unrealistic, it’s worth seeking professional help to look for alternatives. Moreover, professionals also think of things that might otherwise be forgotten.

Is it also worth getting professional support when it comes to decorative elements?

It really depends on how substantial they’re meant to be. Many people tend to envisage far too much decoration, or they combine things that then don’t go together. In this context, I’m always fascinated by specialists who have an eye for such things and – while sticking to a budget – are able to arrange a space in the best possible way and (above all) so it fits the occasion.

«Ein gelungener Event ist wie nach einer strengen Wanderung auf dem Gipfel zu stehen und den Ausblick geniessen zu können – einfach einzigartig.»

Chiara Andreoli, Senior Congress & Event Manager, Zurich Convention Center

What tips do you have when it comes to catering?

The catering at an event is the No. 1 topic for most guests. At the planning stage, it’s worth taking a detailed look at how the event will run. Are there any moments when the programme can be interrupted for this purpose? Should only drinks be offered, or small appetizers too? Would a buffet be a wise choice, or would so-called ‘butler-style’ service offering drinks and snacks be a better option? Here too, one should preferably make use of professionals from the outset. They’re best at finding solutions when it comes to allergies and special requests and can also estimate how much food will be needed for that number of guests. It’s rare for people to want to test the food in advance, but this is definitely a good option if you want to check the desired quality and selection before the actual event.

If you could give someone just one tip when organizing an event, what would it be?

To get professional support. There are good reasons why you have trained specialists to organize events. For example, I’d recommend finding a venue that combines a variety of experts under one roof. Here at Zurich Convention Center we’ve always had very good experiences with this in the past.

What have you learnt so far during your career as a Congress & Event Manager?

To keep an eye on the big picture and not get lost in the details. It ultimately always turns out to be slightly different to what you’d thought, and that’s fine too because it usually produces the best outcomes. And above all, you need a sense of a shared purpose – in the team behind the scenes, but among the guests too.

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