Five marketing partners collaborated to create the first Access 2004, a new conference and exhibition promoting Austria as a meetings and incentives destination, launched at the Hofburg Congress Center Vienna October 4 to 5, which featured many exhibitors that would appeal to planners looking for something new and different.

The partners (abcn, austrian business and convention network, a division of the Austrian National Tourist Office; the Austrian Convention Bureau; Austrian Airlines; the Vienna Convention Bureau; and Round Table Conference Hotels) combined and reshaped three existing shows to create this single event, giving planners a more-comprehensive, better-focused overview of the offerings throughout Austria.

More than 1,200 buyers from 13 countries, including 16 hosted buyers from the United States and Canada, came to see the 166 exhibitors, including many of the big names: Marriott International, Hilton International Vienna, Grand Hotel Wien, InterContinental Hotels Group Austria, Austria Center Vienna, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Austria, Reed Messe Wien, and the Hofburg itself, the former imperial palace, with extensive meeting facilities for groups of 60 to 3,500.

But there were also many lesser-known exhibitors that would appeal to planners looking for something new and different:

  • The Natural History Museum in Vienna, which can host groups of 30 to 700 in meeting rooms and in the galleries, including the Hall of Dinosaurs. The Lecture Hall has the technology to transmit images from microscopes onto a projection screen.
  • Hotel Krainerhutte Helenental, a 60-room rustic property about 20 miles from Vienna that will increase its meeting rooms from five to seven when its new conference center opens in May 2005. There are also outdoor meeting facilities and a variety of sports, including mountain biking, climbing classes, and archery.
  • Majestic Imperator Imperial Dinner Train, which offers elegant dining on a variety of round-trip routes from Vienna. In 2006 it launches the Imperial Amadeus on the Vienna-Salzburg route, in honor of the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. Special itineraries can be arranged for groups, which can rent individual carriages or the entire train for meetings, incentives, or special events.
  • The Province of Tirol, where five glaciers offer year-round skiing. The village of Alpbach has an unusual conference center, built into the mountainside, that can accommodate groups up to 700. The five-star Hotel Europa Tyrol, in Innsbruck, with 122 guest rooms and six meeting rooms, offers free meeting space and basic in-house AV to in-house groups.

    Kitzbuhel, which bills itself as a "conference town," has seven conference and event facilities, the largest accommodating 400 people; 12 hotels with meeting space, eight event organizers, and a wide range of both summer and winter sports.

Access 2005 is scheduled for October 3 to 4, 2005, in Vienna.