Mice Hungary a Regional Tourism Player in the Making

Tourism

György Tatár and Róbert Révész (with glasses), the founder and owner and partner of Hotel Premio Group, respectively.

Mice Hungary, a business servicing international conferences, is just the cherry on top of a venture that started as a local event location search site. The group is about to go regional and aims to become a household name among C-suiters.

Sometimes you just have to do the legwork; there’s no way around it. Making cold calls to set up old-fashioned face-to-face meetings or driving to corporate clients in the countryside on dirt roads, if need be. György Tatár first looked up the details of would-be clients from the Budapest Business Journal’s Book of Lists to convince them to sign his company for organizing an event.

On one of his adventurous trips in the middle of nowhere, he was greeted by an elderly lady wearing flip-flops. She was amazed by the trouble he had gone to and immediately wanted to order, albeit by sending a fax. Regardless, as a representative of a huge crane equipment company, she turned out to be a generous client.

All that seems to have happened a lifetime ago, even if the beginnings date back barely a decade. What started as a local venue search site for business events is now set to evolve into a regional behemoth. Tatár, founder and owner of Hotel Premio Group and Hungary’s top event location search sites, never believed the myth that the market was saturated. But COVID did help.

He knew that during the pandemic, many full-time corporate event managers had been laid off. However, it was clear that once the lockdowns were over, the market would bounce back, and companies would need to organize in-person gatherings as before. Only those who knew how to handle it weren’t on the payroll any longer.

Their untested replacements who received the assignments naturally reached for the keyboard and started typing keywords into their internet search bars. And that gave Tatár’s business a tremendous boost.

It all started with cegeshelyszinek.hu, which acquired rendezvenyhelyszinek.hu, rendezveny.com and konferenciahotelek.hu, an arm of szallas.hu, Hungary’s top hotel accommodation search portal.

“We are creating an umbrella brand, but it’s all very complex, so defining it is still a work in progress,” Tatár tells the BBJ but gives a detailed explanation.

An Idea Grows

For starters, they organize events and provide all kinds of related services, from catering to entertainment, but clients can also use their service if they only need a venue for an event. The original idea was to offer local locations to local corporate buyers. However, Hungarian companies started to look beyond the borders to reward their staff with incentive trips abroad, primarily inthe CEE region.

“That’s when regional venues, typically hotels, reached out to us, asking whether we can help channel demand to them. We were more than happy to,” Tatár recalls. The result is a 2,400-plus clientele and more than 800 domestic venues; revenues tripled year-on-year in Q1 2023.

After a while, the business reached the point where a regional expansion started to make sense.

“We realized we need to go regional. And the Czech market looked like a perfect target as it is four times as big as the Hungarian market. They spend a lot more on training and motivating staff,” Tatár explains.

The acquisition of a prestigious Czech player with more than 830 locations has been closed and will be announced soon, so now it’s all set to offer regional sites to a regional clientele. This is an unusually large step for a Hungarian tourism business, but it’s just the start, as Poland is next on the expansion list.

Another recent twist in the business portfolio was the emergence of Mice Hungary, a platform designed to help foreign event bookers find Hungarian venue locations. (Mice is a hospitality acronym for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions.)

That move coincided with bringing in industry heavyweight Róbert Révész as partner and co-owner at Hotel Premio Group. Révész ran a significant tourism venture before joining Tatár and is a long-time friend. In an odd twist linking back to those very early days, Révész was once in charge of the sales of the Book of Lists at the BBJ, Tatár’s Bible for sourcing contact details.

Cherry on Top

“The initial scheme already involved a huge multiplicator effect. Mice Hungary is the cherry on top of tourism. Hotels also struggle to produce decent occupation rates in the spring and the fall, but that’s precisely when corporate events thrive,” Révész notes. He adds that their clientele disposes of a corporate budget that supposes higher spending and more expensive hotels.

“They often return with their families, so it’s a double incentive for venues.”

Events include team building, sales-focused or education training, office Christmas parties, and product presentations. The annual total adds up to more than 1,000 bookings.

The group’s service offers far more than other search portals, the two leaders insist.

“Booking.com and the like are IT companies, whereas our service can’t be standardized,” Révész says. The complexity is due to not only personalized requests but also the dramatically shortened implementation window. “You need to get the whole event done within three weeks on average.”

If the above wasn’t enough, the group also runs a boutique hotel at Lake Balaton called Annuska, where the company holds its team-building events for its motivated staff.

“We are an experience-driven workplace where we [two leaders] have been the oldest in our mid-forties. Now we have hired a real adult, an accountant,” smiles Tatár. “Speaking of accounting, now we need to figure out how to build up a regional group as a Hungarian company with reporting, structure, and the like. And that’s going to be a whole new level for sure.”

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of May 19, 2023.

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