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Conference tourism moves into high gear in Hungary

Robust growth has been observed lately in conference tourism, which is expected to further intensify with soaring demand for big capacity venues, according to an analysis by the Hungarian Tourism Agency sent to the Budapest Business Journal.

The total number of conference events in Hungary last year grew by 27% compared to 2015, to 3,598, the Hungarian Tourism Agency reports. Pundits project a continuation of the solid upward trend for this year.

Demand has clearly shifted towards venues with larger capacity as around half of participants arrive for events hosting 101-500 guests. Up to 80% of conferences take place in hotels. 

“The high season hasn’t even started, and yet we have organized 58 gatherings hosting more than 200 persons each in our facilities,” says Judit Liptai, director of central sales and marketing at Danubius Hotels Zrt. “Last year this figure was 89 for the whole year, so we have covered some 65% of 2015’s total within just the first quarter,” she adds.

Guests on business trips spent HUF 2 billion on rooms at Danubius last year, and spent as much again on everything else. One-quarter of guests were Hungarian, followed by Britons, Americans and Germans. 

Danubius Hotels says it aims to provide a quality service to foreign and local business travelers through continuous development.

“Refurbishment started in Hilton Budapest, located in Buda Castle, last year, and one-third of the rooms as well as the lobby have been renovated completely,” Liptai adds. “In addition, the remodeling of the entire floor used for events is expected to be completed by the end of April.”

Tied to hotels

As the sales and marketing director points out, business travelers differ from average tourists in many ways. For starters, evidence shows that those on business trips are the most willing to spend. Their tight schedule, however, means they mainly spend in hotels, and are less likely to go out to places normally frequented by tourists, such as ruin bars or downtown clubs.

Liptai still sees untapped opportunities in the conference tourism segment, however.

“Exploiting those opportunities to the full is made difficult by the fact that Budapest lacks a venue that would allow it to host large-scale events with thousands of participants,” Liptai notes. “The long-awaited Congress Center would help address the issue and its implementation has our full backing; we are ready to help make it happen with every tool at our disposal.”