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Meetings in Warsaw/ EURO 2012

Does Warsaw need the state of the art Congress Centre?

If you plan to organize a congress for 5000 participants don’t think about Warsaw for now – you’ll not find a suitable venue here. Why is that Warsaw, the capital of 38 mln people country, possibly a new attractive destination for the international business meeting industry, still doesn’t have a state of the art congress venue that can accommodate such congresses? Let’s give some examples what are the benefits for the city of hosting the international meetings.

Thanks to the economic growth, as well as continued efforts taken by key different parties, including Warsaw Destination Alliance, to change the image of the city, Warsaw notes stable increase in business arrivals and tourism traffic. Who visits our city? There are the individual businessmen coming here to their companies, as well as the one day leisure travelers popping in to the city on their way to Cracow or Gdansk (let’s face the truth and do something to change the trend). You will find also more and more conference delegates that come to Warsaw usually for 3 days from as remote destinations as Sri Lanka or Australia to discuss as different issues as the spine, potatoes, ticketing or airports….You must know - we don’t ask what is the topic of the meeting – it can be a beekeeping, you name it. We ask how many delegates will come and where will we organize their meeting. Only this… just this.

From the meeting planner’s perspective, Warsaw is an unknown territory but interesting place for the delegates – they’ve been several times to Prague, Paris or Dubai so they are looking for some new experiences, for something more ‘exotic’ than just Hong Kong. Warsaw, the economic and political centre of new, rapidly developing EU Member, with it’s communistic heritage and cavalierly image can attract more and more foreign delegates. The visitors are really enchanted with Warsaw’s dynamism and business opportunities that it offers. And they even like Palace of Culture and Science calling it Warsaw’s Empire State Building.

In terms of facilities the conference organizers appreciate especially high standard, brand new five and four hotels located in central Warsaw. We can be proud of them, as you’ll not find that many new venues in this part of the world. The recent opening of Hilton Warsaw Hotel & Convention Centre adds to Warsaw meeting industry an additional conference hall for 1800 delegates. The hotels like Marriott, Sofitel Victoria or The Westin can host the meetings up to 800 guests. We should not forget about Palace of Science and Culture that can host up to 2800 delegates and EXPO XXI which is a exhibition hall, but hosted 3500 delegates of AIDS congress. It’s still not enough. If you don’t believe, try to book PKIN for 2009 and you’ll see what we mean.

Another advantage of Warsaw is the extension of the airport. It’s a very good news for the meeting industry that the new terminal will be able to handle 11 mln travelers per year. The many direct flights to Warsaw from international capital is a key factor in the process of meeting planning, so we should cross the fingers for the developers to keep the deadlines.

However Warsaw still cannot compete for the biggest and most profitable conventions, as we don’t have suitable venues to host them. Take Prague that can host even the 18000 delegates in Sazka Arena, or Hit Hall in Budapest that is available for 5000 guests and you’ll see how much potential business we loose each year. 

Thinking about the meeting industry you must see the wide scope of its shareholders – the meeting planners, the hotels, shops, restaurants, taxis, airlines and many more that work for the delegates coming to the city. Imagine direct amounts of expenses that the convention centre directly injects in the local economy (salaries, investments, consumptions, etc) ad to this the indirect expenses generated by the delegates and expect the spin off effect that will inevitably boost the local economy.

In terms of social benefits you must remember that it’s not only about the direct employment in the conference centre, but there are also the new jobs generated to handle the tourism / conference traffic. Putting together the economic and social aspects of the conferencing, the impact for the city can be really substantial.

The modern metropolis like London or Vienna appreciate the direct and indirect benefits flowing from the meeting industry and support intensively promotion of their destinations, fight for new conferences officially supporting their bids,  even give money to the conference organizers as encouragement! Warsaw seems to still neglect this part of business….

As Warsaw’s time has come, there is no doubt that Warsaw finally needs to learn it’s lesson in business tourism, catch up with our CEE competitors, build the state of the art conference venue and attract the international meetings – we all will benefit from it.

Warszawa needs the following World Class venue:

( The design of these venues, need to be with full functioning flexibility to allow the greatest elasticity for events ranging from Super Concerts, In Door Sports, Congress’s and Events )

• Multi Function Congress Arena for 15 to 18.000 people
• Conferencing and Banquet rooms 10.000 square meters
• Exhibit Centre 10 to 15.000 square meters
• Food and Beverage and specialized retail 10.000 square meters.

This investment can be realized as a PPP with the City of Warsaw, financing can be easily arranged. The total cost of the project is circa Euro 150.000. We believe this type of venue will also attract a world class MICE Operator i.e. SMG, or REED.

Written by: Alex Kloszewski President of Warsaw Destination Alliance, Edyta Musielak Conference Sales Manager

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