Budapest Convention Bureau aims to rebuild business tourism
The Hungarian Tourism Agency (MTÜ), in cooperation with the Hungarian Tourism Association Foundation (MTSZA), is reorganizing the operation of the Hungarian Congress Office based the widespread model of convention bureaus already operating in several big cities.
Six months ago, when preparations started to launch the new organization, MTÜ and MTSZA expected the future Budapest Convention Bureau would carry out promotional, organizational and sales activities aimed at boosting business tourism in Budapest and the entire country. But the coronavirus epidemic has changed all previous plans by the time the bureau started operation on 1 March.
Budapest Convention Bureau aims to help players take full advantage of the potential offered by business tourism
"The coronavirus epidemic has a devastating effect on business tourism, hence starting over requires concentrated professional efforts and resources. In this situation, it is particularly true that, in line with the aims of the National Tourism Development Strategy, Hungary needs not only leisure tourists, but also those customers who stay for longer, have a higher purchasing power and demand premium services. In this regard, business travelers, conference and exhibition attendees and participants of corporate meetings and incentive tours have a significant role," László Könnyid, deputy CEO responsible for tourism at MTÜ, said.
Anna Békefi leads the Budapest Convention Bureau
The board of trustees at MTSZA proposed last fall to assume professional responsibilities to develop business tourism in the country and the capital. Based on the proposal, MTÜ decided to cease the operation of its own division, the Hungarian Congress Office, and contribute to the operation of Hungarian Congress Office Ltd. (MKI) by providing necessary information, authorization, professional consultation, cooperation and financial resources under a separate agreement.
"The primary task for the forthcoming period – in consultation with the representatives of government and metropolitan tourism bodies as well as key players in the MICE market – is to draw up a recovery strategy after the coronavirus epidemic, evaluate the state of the industry and discover international best practices. Based on all these, a new marketing and sales strategy should be determined, to be followed by forming relevant organizational skills and launching professional programs," Anna Békefi, managing director at MKI, said.
Anna Békefi, managing director at Budapest Convention Bureau
"Professional processes started in 2020 have been halted by the coronavirus and now we have to focus on the new business model and plan, to be operational from 2021," she added.
Sales, marketing, research and analysis in focus
Under its agreement with MTÜ, MKI will present Hungary and Budapest on the MICE market in a form and quality visually related to the Wow Hungary and Budapest Spice of Europe campaigns.
After the revival of the market, the Budapest Convention Bureau will be responsible for organizing study tours, fam trips, workshops and participation in international MICE fairs, starting programs to increase demand in cooperation with domestic DMCs, PCOs and related professional organizations as well as operating an English-language portal to showcase domestic service providers.
The key to success partially includes thoroughly studying the international benchmarks and precisely assessing and serving the needs of affected service providers, according to Gábor Ganczer, president of the Association of Hungarian Event Organizers and Service Providers (Maresz), who took part in restructuring the congressional office as an MTSZA trustee. "We don't have to reinvent hot water, Vienna, Barcelona and Prague all offer successful and adoptable solutions. We hope we can focus on rebuilding as soon as possible," said Ganczer, who also serves as chief executive at Hungexpo.
"We're targeting to serve business tourism more efficiently with the new convention bureau. Its legal and financial independence allows for a more flexible and faster operation, and we're planning to gradually increase the number of staff to eight to ten from three, which could help increase work loads and introduce a more differentiated division of labor," Péter Princzinger, president of MTSZA, said. "It is already clear that beside slightly increasing sales capacities, we'll need to create solid marketing activities and strengthen research and analytic capabilities," he added.
The new convention bureau can be reached at www.hcb.hu.