I work for a company with operations all over Europe and when we need to get together, it's a challenge to try to get everyone in the same place. For a recent meeting we decided not to bother dragging everyone to one of our factories and instead wanted to find a place that everyone could get to easily. In order to ensure having as much time with everyone as possible, it made sense to consider using an airport venue and we picked Dusseldorf because it fitted in with another visit we planned to make.
We've had some traumas in the last six months trying to find good venues and getting charged silly money for sub-standard venues. So when a colleague said that the conference facilities at Dusseldorf airport were of good quality and reasonably priced, we trusted him enough to make a booking.
Dusseldorf is a good hub for something like this because our German colleagues can reach it by train or plane and the colleagues from the UK and Spain all had access to direct flights. Our Belgian colleague just needed to drive for a couple of hours. So the time wasted in getting there wasn't too bad and because we were at the airport, we wouldn't have to pay a fortune for taxis and lose a lot of time transferring everyone back for their flights.
The 'Wollhaf Konferez- und Bankettcenter' (i.e. conference and banquetting centre) is inside the airport building. Simply enter through the main doors, head upstairs to the departures level and look for the twin escalators. At the top of the escalators, just close to the departure zone you'll find the conference venue. It really was very easy to find.
We checked in at the reception desk and a liveried assistant led us along a corridor to our room. The room was of an exceptional standard with large windows, lots of natural light and plenty of space and we could easily have fitted twice as many people into the room. We had originally booked a smaller room but the trainer had turned up the day before to lay out the room and they'd offered him a larger room for the same price.
We had been warned that we couldn't stick anything on the walls which almost made us cancel the room booking since we were having a brainstorming day and there was no way we could get through the day without sticking things all over the place. However, when the trainer discussed it with the staff, they happily arranged to rent us 6 large pin boards (at a not so generous rate of €30 per board) and told us we could feel free to stick things on the windows.
All too often if you book a meeting room in a hotel, you'll find they've put you in a nasty dark room in the basement with walls that let through every sound from the room next door. The Wollhaf centre was a refreshing change as we were up in the eaves of the airport and during our breaks could look down on the airport halls below.
Our day delegate rates included lots of soft drinks provided in the rooms as well as two coffee breaks and lunch. At each break we had small pastries or other snacks and the lunch was a full three course hot and cold buffet in a restaurant over-looking the planes and the runway. The quality of the lunch was excellent and nobody complained about anything. That's not something I can take for granted with most of my colleagues.
A couple of times during the day we needed to contact the centre administrators – to check the heating and to borrow some stationery items – and they were always very helpful. As the end of the day when our meeting was finished everyone could be at their check-in gates in just a couple of minutes and so we got the maximum work done in the available time.
The cost for all of this was very reasonable. We were charged €48 per person which included the use of the room, all the drinks and a large lunch. The pin boards were charged on top but that is standard for conference venues and was to be expected. The trainer was amazed at what great value this was as he gives seminars all over Europe and thought this was the best value venue he'd used in recent years. To put it into context, the last meeting we held at a hotel in Spain charged us more than that per person just for the food and drink and then slapped a fee of several hundred Euros on top for the meeting room. And the room was considerably smaller and was in a dark basement.
Wollhaf have airport conference facilities at three German airports – Dusseldorf, Koln/Bonn and Stuttgart – and if the Dusseldorf centre is anything to go by, I'd expect the others to also be excellent. If you need a good venue at a fair price and want to get maximum work done in the available town, I really do recommend considering the Wollfaf conference centre at Dusseldorf airport.