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HISTORY: Impress your colleagues and clients by chatting about the good old days. Remember, the convention was started in Baden-Baden by Roman reinsurers in BC 184. German marine insurance bosses kept up the tradition of spending a leisurely week there, smoking cigars and lounging about naked in hot baths well into the last century. Now over 2,000 executives from all over Europe attend but are expected to keep their clothes on and do some work while they are there. To that end, delegates schedule at least 38 meetings per day in the salons of posh hotels like the Bad zum Wurster Hof and bars such as the Gross Biergut Stube.
ACCOMODATION: Although there are several hundred thousand hotel rooms in Baden-Baden, all of them have been reserved for hundreds of years in perpetuity. So as a first timer you will have to stay in a motorway motel near Stuttgart or a creepy B&B on the edge of town run by a cross, deaf old lady.
ATTIRE: This is the easiest bit. By day wear a dark suit and tie and then the same again in the evening. In fact it is Badischer custom to wear a dark suit and tie while in bed, but take your shoes off. Note that the weather is unpredictable at this time of year so many delegates pack a sou’ wester, snow shoes, mittens, waders, sun glasses, pith helmet, thermals, fan, leather shorts and survival blanket.
NETWORKING: As mentioned above, most people make a total of around 250 appointments per day each lasting approximately six minutes. Companies hire numbered tables in hotel salons so that their clients or markets know where to find them. One year a disgruntled hotel employee changed all the numbers around and no-one noticed.
MEDIA: Raise your profile at Baden-Baden by agreeing to be misquoted by a teenage journalist from one of the B2B journals. Prepare yourself by memorising a few meaningless buzzwords that can be used more or less randomly to answer their inane questions: they are desperate for copy and will write down anything you say. This year’s Baden buzzwords are: Das Kapital Influg, sidekar ausfahrt, Ozil kurve, inflektion gradient, ruckversicherung durch technik.
HOSPITALITY: There isn’t so much of it as there is at Monte Carlo so you have to make your own entertainment in Baden-Baden ie buy your own. Remember that German beer does not give hangovers so go ahead and drink gallons of the stuff. You will be fine the next morning and ready for the classic German breakfast of luncheon meat with salami, tripe and ham washed down with some more beer and schnapps. But look closely at some of the bums sitting around the fountain in the stadt mitte. They are all former reinsurance executives.
DOWNTIME: Baden-Baden is stuffed with museums and art galleries and boring old houses where dead composers once lived. All of these are good places to have a snooze undisturbed - your fellow delegates are such philistines they will never think of looking in there.