Conferences with upped marketing

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State tourism agency Magyar Turizmus Zrt has launched a marketing plan for 2011 with the aim of boosting conference tourism. In the meantime, the Hungarian Convention Bureau (HCB) has also kicked off a MICE campaign that will intensify cooperation between market players and the bureau, and increase their footfall.

HCB director Anikó Ferenczy told the Budapest Business Journal that they have achieved positive results with the conference and sports ambassador programs that were included in the 2011 marketing plan of the state tourism office.

Ferenczy said they carried out intensive research regarding events, and have already secured a few prestigious sports events to be held in 2014 thanks to the activity of the sport ambassador program and sports associations. As a result, the European Women’s Handball Championship, the European Water Polo Championship, the European Sectorball Championship and the Veteran Indoor Athletics World Championship will all be held in Hungary in 2014. She added that HCB is awaiting the results of some other pitches equally important sports events that she declined to name at present. 

The conference ambassador program has also brought some good results. The European Meeting & Events Conference (EMEC) of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) will be held in Budapest in 2012. This event is the yearly conference of an international association comprising major event organizers worldwide. “Winning this was a major success. This will be a big opportunity for Hungary to present a reference work for top event organizing agencies,” Ferenczy said.

Furthermore, HCB laucnhed a MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, events) sales promotion campaign in April that will last until July 2012. There are 24 Budapest-based four and five-star hotels taking part in the program,  each of which can provide a minimum of 100 rooms and 60 sqm of conference room space.

The campaign’s main element is that participating service providers make available the venues of gala dinners and banquets free of charge for international events, with at least 50 participants reserving at least two nights, and renting a conference room for a minimum of half a day. The client also has to involve at least one domestic partner in the organization of the event. Among the participants are the Szabó Ervin Library, the royal castle in Gödöllő, the Budapest History Museum, the Gellért Baths and the Museum of Fine Arts.

Hungary enjoys a very good position in the field of international congresses, thanks to the central location of the city in the CEE region, the excellent level of service, and not least to the fact that Hungary offers competitive prices compared not only to, let’s say, Paris, but also to Prague, for example. “This is a great opportunity for clients to have a good deal and service providers to increase their footfall,” Ferenczy said.

Participants in the program cannot agree more, and have high hopes regarding the beneficial effects of the campaign. Tamás Ujváry, deputy director of the Gödöllői Királyi Kastély (Gödöllő Royal Palace), a participant in the MICE campaign, told the BBJ that he expects the HCB sales promotion campaign to turn around the downward trend in footfall at the Gödöllő Palace.

The palace has seen decreasing traffic since 2008. While it had 180,000 paying visitors for its permanent exhibitions in 2007, this fell to 143,000 in 2010.

Ujváry expects that 2011 could be a year of positive change, thanks in part to Hungary’s EU presidency in the first half of the year. “The palace was literally fully booked from the first of January until the end of June,” Ujváry explained. Therefore he was not really in a position to gauge the beneficial effects of the MICE campaign. However, he hopes that the EU presidency and the campaign will finally bring a growth in the number of visitors, which he expects to exceed 150,000 this year.

“I very much hope that the HCB campaign will bring in a large number of actual new customers – as well as revenues,” Ujváry said. He expects that the campaign, in addition to the EU presidency, will have a positive effect on results not only this year, but also in the long-term. N

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