A new chairman and a new vision: “I’d like to give something back to Berlin!”
Stephan Mahnecke, CEO of Party Rent Berlin, is the new chairman of the visitBerlin Convention Partner association. As former treasurer and a member of many years standing, he is well versed in the work of the association. For his period in office, 46-year-old Stephan Mahnecke has chosen a bold agenda. In particular, the topic of sustainability is very close to his heart. Moreover, he intends to use this honorary office to encourage smaller companies to take larger steps in this area and, in this way, give something back to the city of Berlin.
BCO: Mr Mahnecke, can you tell us about your involvement with the Convention Partner association?
Stephan Mahnecke: I’ve known the association for a long time and been involved in the transition over the last years. We’ve been through a lot together, planned and worked intensively together, laughed and celebrated – and sometimes faced situations very different from the ones we imagined. Through this experience, I believe that I have a comprehensive understanding of the association and its structure. Moreover, since I was also treasurer under Bernd Wiedemann for a number of years, I’m familiar with the processes and procedures.
You mentioned a ‘transition’. How far has the association changed over the last years?
Initially, the association was still rather protectionist – a kind of ‘closed shop’ of the key market players in the agency sector. At that time, service providers such as caterers or suppliers of presentation technology, event equipment and decorations could only be supporting rather than voting members. The transition saw the Statutes adapted to open up the association, enabling all members to meet on an equal footing. In this process, we created a ‘pillar’ structure so all representatives of the different sectors could develop advocacy groups, even cross-structural ones.
How does the association find its members?
When it was first founded, the association chose key partners who were a perfect fit with the objectives at that time. But the association takes a different approach now. Today, the aim is to represent members who are event planners with a long-term commitment to Berlin as an event destination, and who see their future here. As a result, there is now a focus on clear criteria such as the business sector, main offices in Berlin, number of employees or business performance.
What are the association’s goals?
Our core priority is to make Berlin even more successful as an event destination. As a trade association, we want to support the visitBerlin Convention Office in establishing Berlin as an event destination at the top of the global rankings. In other words, the policies we adopt must be directed internally at strengthening the association itself while contributing externally to event organisers choosing Berlin as a location.
What made you decide to stand as chairman?
Bernd Wiedemann, my predecessor in this office, had already indicated that he thought I might be the right person. I had to give that some thought, as actually I’m not someone who really likes being in the spotlight. Nonetheless, I believe the work of the association is important both for its members and for the city of Berlin. It may sound rather emotive, but as managing partner of one of the largest organisations in Berlin’s event sector, I strongly believe it’s only right to give something back to that market. After all, a healthy market is essential for competition to thrive and for businesses to enjoy financial success. So in that sense, I think I’m actually the right person to motivate new members and pass on just that vision.
So you can see the association growing?
Absolutely! Our vision is to have around 500 members. We want to offer event planners a broad spectrum of services across the entire sector.
Does the association follow a particular model?
No, it doesn’t, since there is no model to follow. Quite the contrary – the major event destinations in Germany are all taking their lead from Berlin. So what we are doing here is actually unique.
In which way?
By providing a platform for unusual encounters and synergies within the industry, the association actually has an impact far beyond its defined purpose. That’s a unique aspect, and one allowing us to cooperate to address those problematic cases we all face, and bundle our energies to resolve them. Every major city has challenges that individuals can hardly hope to influence alone – whether those are legislative changes, supply capabilities and security issues or the use of public space. But together, we can work on solutions and ensure Berlin remains an attractive location.
Which topics are important to you personally?
Sustainability is one important topic for me – both personally and as an entrepreneur. Without marked customer-side demand for sustainability as yet, we may still be taking rather a reserved approach to it in our industry at present. But it’s only a question of time until the compelling nature of arguments evident in other sectors also affects us too, and sustainability advances to become a key selection criteria for MICE sector customers – which is why I’d personally like to drive this issue forward.
How far is Party Rent Berlin a role model here?
This year the Party Rent Group has undertaken the complex certification process to participate in the Sustainable Meetings Berlin programme. I’d like to put my energy and my time in office to support this programme by encouraging smaller businesses to take this step as well – and also perhaps see whether entry requirements can be simplified in some way.
What other topics are on the agenda of your time in office?
Over the last two years, we’ve already begun to open the association up and create points of contact in the city to discuss and change content in the different thematic areas – such as, for example, approval processes. One other main focus is on training. In addition, it would be good to work towards changing the perception of this association as purely representing management interests.
We always emphasise that our members are companies and businesses. To underline that point, we want to create exciting possibilities for trainees and students in the companies and, in this way, also generate independent cross-sector peer networks. Moreover, we intend to offer an open platform for all company members providing sectoral knowledge individual businesses might not be able to afford themselves.
Let’s end by taking a look into the crystal ball. How do you see the association’s future?
We needed to take a long hard look at the association to guide it to a transition and create an administrative structure of up to 180 members instead of just 20. Now that’s a reality, and it’s already resulted in a new energy – a pro-active drive to move forwards, take up new topics and make them our own. Together with the BCO, we want our voice to be heard more. And over the coming years, we want Berlin to become the most sustainable event destination, not just in Europe, but also globally. We are going to work on these areas in collaboration with the BCO – and I am convinced this will create a solid basis for success. I believe we will in future create a model movement for our industry.
Thank you! Our thanks to Stephan Mahnecke for the interview!
Leverage the expertise and extensive network of the visitBerlin Convention Partner association and our team! We’re here to help you make your vision a reality and connect you with the event partners and experts in our city. Whether you are planning a meeting, congress or incentive, contact us at convention@visitBerlin.de or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephan Mahnecke & Party Rent Berlin
- Stephan Mahnecke became the chairman of the Berlin Convention Partner association in September 2019. Born in the city and now 46-years-old, he has been working the MICE sector in Berlin for over 20 years
- As the managing director of Party Rent Berlin and the new association chairman, he can draw on many years of experience and a large network.
- The Party Rent Group is a Europe-wide event supplier with 24 branches and around 950 staff in nine countries.
- In over 25 years, the Party Rent Group has become the largest event equipment provider in Europe.