«Our employees are the real stars»

– The reopening of Zurich Convention Center means that over 50 new employees are getting down to work. They’ll soon have to find their way around its 600+ rooms – but even more important, being part of the new crew makes them the real stars at Zurich Convention Center.

Anyone who joins the team at Zurich Convention Center must expect things to be very intense. In particular, the reopening phase will demand a great deal of each individual. From the outset, this information has been transparently communicated to everyone involved by CEO Roger Büchel – and yet over 3000 applications for the vacant posts were received.

Start-up conditions

Following its four-year total renovation, Zurich Convention Center is not only reopening in fresh splendour, but with a completely new crew too. The job adverts referred to this as a ‘start-up environment’, which raised some eyebrows in the context of such a traditional event venue. «Nevertheless it’s true,» confirms CEO Roger Büchel, «and in a positive sense too. The new employees and applicants can feel our enthusiasm.» He himself was the very first ‘new employee’, having commenced his work as Director of Zurich Convention Center in January 2019.

From one to eighty

«It was a pretty lonely task to begin with,» he recalls. He was gradually joined by other individuals, mostly managers, who then defined their own processes and established teams. Sales and marketing employees were involved at a particularly early stage so as to fill the order books with national and international events and systematically plan and implement Zurich Convention Center’s brand presence.

«Our transparent communication meant we got hold of the right people.»

Roger Büchel, Director / Chief Executive Officer, Zurich Convention Center

Recruiting in special circumstances

However, the shortage of skilled labour together with COVID-19 ensured that establishing the crew at Zurich Convention Center wouldn’t be a straightforward job. «COVID has aggravated the lack of skilled labour in the catering sector,» confirms Büchel. «Many people are living with uncertainty, so they aren’t particularly receptive to the idea of changing jobs.» Nevertheless, the building’s unique location, the dynamism of the young team, and the reopening itself are attractive to many. «Our transparent communication meant we got hold of the right people, who are very motivated.» Büchel is pleased with his enthusiastic team and the fact that the processes he defined in his preliminary work are so well coordinated now that they’ve been implemented.

A flexible event venue

The pace is accelerating now. The reopening of the Convention Center is imminent, the various teams have for the most part been established, and only when it comes to the approximately 300 employees who are ‘on call’ are there still some gaps to fill. «The speed at which we did things required a balancing act,» says Büchel. On the one hand it was necessary to keep fixed costs low because COVID meant that no events could be organised. On the other hand, the teams naturally needed to be ready when things kicked off. Demand went crazy after the first loosening of restrictions by the Office of Public Health: it suddenly also had to be possible to personally guide lots of interested parties through the building. Even as early as the recruitment process, Zurich Convention Center demonstrated the flexibility it also reveals in terms of its architecture, technology, methodology and content. Moreover, this was necessary because the restarting of operations had to be postponed twice: once for construction-related issues, and once because of COVID.

Satisfaction rubs off on customers

It seems that the balancing act at Zurich Convention Center has been a success. There’s a relaxed mood among employees, most of whom have been trained and inducted over the past few months, and they’re really looking forward to the reopening. People talk to each other as equals, and employees are valued. The 50 new employees have been warmly welcomed. As CEO, Roger Büchel does his utmost to ensure that employees enjoy working for Zurich Convention Center. All the job profiles state that employees have their own competencies and scope for development. «Only in this way will you get the satisfaction and engagement that will then impact directly on customers’ enthusiasm,» he says with conviction – and as CEO and the very first employee, that’s precisely what he radiates too.

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