Switzerland: A real adventure
Our World | On 28, Jul 2011
Is it a train… Is it a plane?… Actually it’s both, plus a scooter, a boat… oh and a fleet of Audi A4’s.
Back in March I was kindly invited by the Swiss Convention Bureau to attend what I thought was a run of the mill familiarisation (FAM) trip. You know the score, 50 hotel site inspections in 2 days, swapping business cards with everyone and anyone you meet (including the local butcher), asking ‘how many people this meeting room fits in theatre style’…oh and not forgetting the odd glass or two of champagne.
The last time I’d been to Switzerland was almost 20 years ago as a schoolchild and my only recollection of it was, ‘how many Lindt bars could I carry home in my suitcase!?’.
Anyway, back to the purpose of this trip. It was very interestingly titled ‘Switzerland Meeting Trophy 2011’. Little did I know that I was embarking on what was no ordinary FAM trip. It was in fact 85 people from 8 countries worldwide competing to win the ultimate prize…wait for it… A Swiss cow (ok not really… but almost… a year’s supply of cheese actually!). We spent 3 days exploring Switzerland like never before, taking part in Winter Olympic challenges up a 3000ft Glacier, sampling the local produce (chocolate, cheese and wine), navigating ourselves from one city to another with a road map and an A4 convertible, as well as competing for the World Title in beach volleyball in Gstaad (during the Swatch Beach Volley ball Grand Slam). And if that’s not enough excitement we ended the competition on a terrace looking over Lake Geneva whilst taking in the sound of the saxophone from the Montreux Jazz festival – never a dull moment on this trip.
Now I’m sure that most people associate Switzerland with the winter season, mainly focusing on the wealthy who fancy a bit of whoosh, whoosh, whooshing down the slopes and the occasional (few and far between) high end incentives. Well let me enlighten you, Switzerland is just as impressive in the spring and summer months.
Our trip took us to some of the most beautiful parts of the country; its capital Bern, Gstaad, Montreaux, Lausanne and Geneva, offering us variety of landscape, culture and gastronomy to experience. Another thing we managed to sample was the sheer brilliance of the Swiss transport network. Ok, so Switzerland is not a huge country, but to get from one side to the other is not only affordable and quick but enjoyable too. As an added bonus, cities such as Geneva and Basel offer your delegates free use of public transport while staying in the city – maybe TFL could take a leaf out of their book? In three days we managed to use almost every method of transport available to us…travelling via plane, train, boat, car, scooter and foot, answering little bits of trivia as we went on our way and undertaking some of the most bizarre tasks too. Anyone for milking a cow?!
All jokes a side, Switzerland has so much to offer from the fun described above to great venues and options for the MICE industry.