Business tourism is surprisingly important. “Poland’s development has not escaped the attention of the world”

Business tourism is surprisingly important.  "Poland's development has not escaped the attention of the world"

The debate on business tourism is behind us. Its main thoughts were the role and importance of the meetings industry in Poland. The event took place on December 18 in Warsaw and was hosted by editor Mariusz Rytel. There were also exceptional guests who were specialists in various fields of the tourism industry. Questions were asked, among others: about Poland’s role in business tourism and what makes our country have a good chance of gaining more and more interest abroad. The conclusions turned out to be surprising.

The debate, moderated by Mariusz Rytel, included Aneta Książek – head of the Poland Convention Bureau POT Meetings and Events Office, Paula Fanderowska – president of the Association of Conferences and Congresses in Poland, vice-president of the Management Board of Kraków 5020 operator ICE Kraków, Joanna Montenarh – co-owner of Travel Projekt DMC Poland, vice-president of the SITE Poland association, Beata Kozyra – general director of the Polish Chamber of Exhibition Industry and Rafał Szmytke – president of the Polish Tourist Organization.

Although each of the above-mentioned people has slightly different tasks, they share a passion for the business tourism industry and knowledge of how it works and has developed over recent years.

Business tourism. what does it mean?

The moderator of the meeting revealed that the business tourism industry in our country is doing better and better. In the latest ranking of the Union of International Associations (UIA), Poland was placed 20th in the world, achieving over 100 renowned events (according to specific ranking criteria – lasting at least 3 days, gathering at least 300 participants, participants come from at least 5 countries , at least 40% of participants come from abroad). – This is a success. Poland’s development has not escaped the world’s attention, commented Mariusz Rytel. He asked his guests, among others: about the characteristics of the mentioned industry and what it actually means.

Rafał Szmytke explained the basic issue. He revealed that it is a broad concept that is gaining more and more importance every year.

– It is a set of all activities, people who travel for work-related purposes. Today, business tourism generates much more revenue than we could imagine, it is directly related to the economic development of the place it concerns – revealed the president of the Polish Tourist Organization.

– Business tourism has become an integral part of the global economic landscape. It is the main pillar of the dynamic economic development of many cities and regions. It is much more than just business trips or industry meetings. It is a set of strategic activities and sophisticated mobilization of human resources and infrastructure in order to achieve business goals and create a positive image of the place – he said.

–The income generated, from hotel and transport services to local gastronomy and the service sector, is an undeniable impulse for growth. Today, there is no doubt that the development of this branch is closely related to the economic and social progress of a given area, he added.

She said, among others, that business tourism is really important. Aneta Książek — For 14 years, together with our partners, we have been collecting qualitative data that allows us to notice the scale of business tourism. It is important not only which industries meet, but also when, where and in what groups. Poland is important to us. We want it to become better and better and to have more and more importance in international rankings – said the head of the Poland Convention Bureau POT. She revealed that when it comes to our country, today the cities of first choice in business meeting tourism are Krakow and Warsaw. In second place are Gdańsk, Wrocław, Katowice and Poznań. In turn, on the third one we will see, among others: Łódź or Lublin.

Business tourism in Poland is getting better and better. “We are the trendsetters, not the old Europe”

The meeting participants unanimously emphasized that over time, Poland has made enormous progress in business tourism. It was once perceived as a wild or exotic place, today our country is taken very seriously, and foreign tourists who come here always end their trip full of positive impressions. – People who come to Poland for the first time are sometimes intimidated by what they find – the quality of hotel facilities, infrastructure and service. Today, we are the ones who set trends, not the old Europe and its countries that are already well known to everyone, commented Rafał Szmytke.

– Western Europe is currently struggling with an excess of various types of MICE events (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions), which often results in a lack of availability in many areas, such as hotels, conference rooms and venues. This results in a huge price increase, which has already reached its absolute peak in many European capitals. As a DMC company, we see this as a special opportunity for Poland as a destination that, in the next two years, will certainly be chosen more often by foreign planners to organize events and meetings. The quality-price ratio in our country compared to other destinations is still very favorable, and the budgets of many customers are increasingly unable to cope with the Western European “MICE-expensive”. Therefore, we can expect that there will be more and more business events in the near future, emphasized Joanna Montenarh.

During the meeting, there were references to the problems and challenges that the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s initiation of the war in Ukraine have recently brought to business tourism. There was a moment when the geopolitical situation alienated tourists who were afraid that Poland was not safe. Then we had to fight for them with increased force, but fortunately, this also ended in success. You may have the impression that today we are even more stable than before, and the bad situation only proves that it is not so easy to get rid of the business tourism industry.

Today, the meetings industry is not limited to the region. “We are looking for what is our competitive advantage”

Today, competition is global and we are participants in the global market. The meetings industry is no longer just a region and a continent, said Paula Fanderowska. She revealed that today the most important thing is to look for what distinguishes us and competitive advantages. She mentioned not only price competitiveness, but above all about hospitality, cuisine and openness of society.

It turns out that the meetings industry is today valuable mainly for the economy and science. It is the events organized that can position given countries very high in the world.

As Paula Fanderowska informed, awareness of the importance of this sector and its role as a catalyst for the economy is, among others, Great Britain. This is a sign that we should also see huge potential in the meetings industry, while remembering that there are many strong players on the market.

Trade fairs and incentive trips are an important part of business meetings

Beata Kozyra, a business fair specialist, revealed that the fairs we all know are no longer the same as they used to be. Today they are more complex. – It used to be a typical meeting place for the presentation of given services, where business met business. These are no longer just meetings at stands. Today, mega-events are organized in which fairs are accompanied by congresses and conferences, training and workshops, shows, competitions, meetings with experts and stars, and even concerts. The so-called festivalization of trade fairs – commented the Director General of the Polish Chamber of Exhibition Industry.

When it comes to motivational trips, the so-called incentive travel mainly Joanna Montenarh commented on this matter. She explained that it is an extremely effective marketing tool that aims to increase the commitment and motivation of employees or customers, which ultimately translates into an increase in sales and profits of a given institution, as well as attaching the employee to the brand or company. – It is usually an exclusive trip with a tailor-made program, often with team-building elements and a gala with awards for the best – she said.

Later in the debate, it was emphasized, among others: the role of public institutions in business tourism. President Rafał Szmytke talked about it, pointing out that today there are certain structures, such as the Poland Convention office, which are responsible for promoting Poland as a tourist attraction. – There are many such institutions and they prove a professional approach to the matter.

This is a large amount of training, promotion, and contact creation, which allows us to stay in the competitive market and keep the customer coming back, what counts here is the person – he revealed.

Then it was emphasized that regardless of whether we are talking about business fairs, conferences or incentive trips, it is always a long-term teamwork of many people. – It’s about taking care of communication, appropriate equipment, coordination, technologies and using advantages – said Aneta Książek. – Thanks to this, guests come back to us and we are very proud of it – she added.

Is Poland the key to success? The conclusions are positive

Many interesting conclusions emerge from the debate. These include the fact that Poland may be more fashionable today than the so-called old Europe, i.e. places as popular as France. What matters to us is that we have a chance to be an interesting and more attractive country than what is already well known.

– Europe looks at what is happening in our country with great envy – commented Rafał Szmytke.

Although, according to experts, Poland’s future in business tourism looks very good, as Aneta Książek puts it: “We cannot rest on our laurels.” This means that we still have a lot of work ahead of us to maintain our current position and climb to the top. – We want to be ourselves and we want to change because trends change – she added.

According to Beata Kozyra, the heads of exhibition companies are optimistic, although the industry faces many challenges. Exhibition companies must be flexible and open to new technologies, e.g. the use of AI in the service of fairs. The exhibition industry has already entered the path of sustainable development and now the challenge will be to create optimal solutions for the implementation of ESG. Both a high technological level and sustainable fairs may determine the choice of Poland as a destination for business tourism.

There were predictions that in about five years Poland could become the first choice for business tourism, all thanks to the fact that we are modern and have nothing to be ashamed of. This only means one thing, it will probably only get better.

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