Head of the week: The director

Four years ago, Marc Zehnder won the license to hold the Swiss Dialog Marketing Award in a pitch. Today, this event is one among many at Kleistermeister. In the train of development, the booming event agency has now moved from Hochdorf to Lucerne.

The event was very high-profile, the guests were wrapped in expensive cloth, and for the night the rooms were ordered at Lucerne's Hotel Schweizerhof. Before going to bed, the host then gave the guests the alternative: a nightcap in the hotel bar - or another short visit to an illegal club. Of course, the secret tip caught on. In the evening dress the society moved to a shabby demolition booth. There a candle was lit discreetly in a window. A sign that today at this address is forbidden to gamble. In the gambling den in the basement, a fully stocked bar was waiting with the appropriate ladies behind the counter. A few men were playing blackjack. In one corner, poker was being played. 20 real thousand dollar bills on the table attracted the astonished looks of the guests. At first, a discreet embarrassment spread among them. But quickly also a shy desire for the wicked.
Of course, the gamblers were actors. And upstairs, an employee of Kleistermeister was on guard - so that the police, who might have been alerted by neighbors, could be enlightened with a complete dossier that only an event was taking place here. Downstairs in the cellar, however, no one has yet smelled a rat from this daring game of their boss. He generously bought chips, distributed them to his colleagues from the management - and soon they were gambling boldly. Only after half an hour did Marc Zehnder blow the whistle. The groupier turned out to be a magician. He then entertained the once again clean company for another hour with all kinds of tricks around the art of cheating.
"You have to be creative, then you can turn any cellar hole into an attractive event location," says Marc Zehnder, still pleased with the success of this event at the witching hour. Of course, he can't always sell such ideas.
Ice cold and hot desire
The organizer's desire is often there. Usually, the mix of guests or the reason for the event then nevertheless demands hip venues such as the Bally-Lab in Schönenwerd, the Maag-Areal or the Kongresshaus in Zurich. All these sought-after venues are offered on the new Kleistermeister.ch website. An igloo village in the Alps, where you can present products or train employees at a scant 2 degrees above freezing, is also hotly sought after. But even if it can't always be a fresh location, Zehnder at least wants to create as new an experience as possible for the staging.
"We are not satisfied with 08/15 solutions. If expectations are met, it's a normal occasion. But we try to exceed expectations," is Zehnder's goal. To do this, he first gets into the minds of the event attendees, "What is expected?" This research is the basis for building a concept. Then Kleistermeister wants to "creatively surprise" people. This is evident in the common thread. "A communication idea must be supported throughout the event with many small and always amazing elements." It is also important to Marc Zehnder that he not only writes the concept himself for each event, but also takes over the direction on site at the event.
Together with Marc Zehnder, three permanent project managers work at the Lucerne event agency. In addition, depending on the event, there are up to 30 or sometimes 200 freelancers. The company also has a 1,000-square-meter warehouse for decor, lounge furniture and technology.
The name Kleistermeister is fantasy. It had to be "something that stands out and polarizes", because in the industry register they all sound the same: Event Motion, Event Tool, Event Maker. With Eventsolutions alone, "I can't stand out in this environment," said Marc Zehnder when he founded his company four years ago. The young entrepreneur first tested the Kleistermeister Eventsolutions brand on his mother. When she could still remember the word after three days, the "market research" was considered successfully completed.
With the move from Hochdorf to Lucerne these days, the name has also found a little more influence on the new business paper as well as the website of the event agency. There, after four years, "new wallpaper is now visibly being put up".The specialist for everything
The Kleistermeister story began in 2004 when, after seven years in the event business, Marc Zehnder wanted to set up his own business and won the pitch for the license for the Swiss Dialog Marketing Award as his first leg of the journey.
Zehnder entered the professional world as an electrician. Because he was an active skier, he volunteered for various background jobs at winter sports events. He set up advertising boards for the Bankverein Ski Open. Then came more and more jobs "in the implementation area". Finally, Zehnder applied to an event agency in Bern. There he was the "specialist for everything" and, for example, laid 1,000 square meters of carpet at an altitude of 2,000 meters. "Today, when I expect something from my employees, I know what I'm talking about," he says. And he also learned how to calculate, how much time an implementation takes, what materials are available and which are not suitable. "I can tell a customer what's possible and what he'd be better off forgetting."
This basis of craftsmanship is very important to Zehnder. "That's the big plus of our agency. Many have studied something or other and know a lot about marketing communications - but they have no idea about organizing," he often notes. Zehnder learned this nuts and bolts of a successful event from scratch, worked his way up, and has since done sponsorship implementations for UBS and Swisscom mobile at the first Snowboard World Cup races. When the agency in Bern was shut down, he moved to Fisch Meier Direkt in a subsidiary for promotion. "There I learned about the connection between communication and event. Before, I thought a sporting event was an event for people to enjoy. Then I realized: an event needs a communication goal."
He supplemented his theoretical knowledge with a postgraduate degree - certified sports and event manager - at the Academia Engadina tourism college. But practice has taught him the most important lesson: Keep calm in all situations. "If something doesn't work out somewhere, I can't run through the crowd at the aperitif in a panic. I can't let anything escalate. Because if I get nervous, that also transfers to my employees, to the guests and to the customer for sure." And if nervousness should ever arise at a Kleistermeister event, then at most because once again illegal gambling is taking place.
Andreas Panzeri

It can't always be fancy and fresh locations, but Kleistermeister knows how to create a lasting memory through clever staging.

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