Every September for the past decade, the heat and frenetic pace of the Monte Carlo reinsurance Rendez-Vous has dominated my September – and many months leading up to it as the Rein4ce team has juggled multiple diaries and booked dozens of meetings for clients with trade journalists.
This year was the 60th anniversary of the event where everyone who is anyone in the global reinsurance sector comes to meet, schmooze at the many parties and begin the opening talks about the pricing deals they will eventually sign in the January renewals.
The industry is about more than Monte Carlo though
This October, after many years of swithering about whether to attend, I made it for the first time to Monte Carlo’s more under-stated – but equally important – cousin Baden-Baden
First impressions of this very beautiful spa town nestling in German’s Black Forest were very positive. Unlike Monte Carlo where most people seem flustered and over-heated from rushing up and down to the Fairmont for meetings, it was a pleasure to attend an event in a much cooler climate – and without the exhausting steep hills.
Most meetings were held in a variety of smart central hotels that seemed every bit as eye-wateringly expensive as Monte Carlo. Where Baden-Baden really has an upper hand, though, is in its very sleek and modern meeting centre, the Kongresshaus – a terrific and efficient space to do business.
Less showy than Monaco but every bit as important
Monaco is a very showy event which attracts just about every CEO in the industry. It is as much about being seen there and strengthening ties with clients as anything else, and the media and the social networking opportunities are unbeatable. Baden-Baden, on the other hand, seemed much more reserved and business-like. There appeared to be fewer glitzy parties and there were not as many c-suite big hitters in town. Baden-Baden is much more about ironing out the details on January renewals, and those attending were more likely to be those who actually write the deals. This more transactional feel was also reflected in the dress code: formal suits during the day rather than the smart/casual attire of Monte Carlo.
The media are also out in force in Baden-Baden, and the main trade publications did their usual excellent job of producing daily publications from the event. It may not have the panache and glamour of Monte Carlo, but it was easy to see why Baden-Baden in its much more modest way is such an important fixture in the reinsurance calendar. One vital lesson learned was learned for the future: book your hotel as early as possible to guarantee a place in town to avoid being settled out in the surrounding sticks.