Prague Con­ven­tion Bureau

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was es­tab­lished in 2008 as a joint ini­tia­tive and non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion de­voted to the events and meet­ings in­dus­try. Cel­e­brat­ing its 10th an­niver­sary next year, the aim has been to strengthen the pos­i­tive aware­ness of the city of Prague as a con­ven­tion and in­cen­tive des­ti­na­tion; as well as a host to afore­men­tioned busi­ness heavy­weights like Mi­crosoft and Siemens. The orig­i­nal goals and ac­tiv­i­ties of the Bureau were also linked to the PAKT (Pražská aso­ci­ace kon­gresové tur­is­tiky - Prague As­so­ci­a­tion of the Con­gress Tourism), which was a pre­de­ces­sor of the PCB.

“Nowa­days we fo­cus, of course, on the pro­mo­tion of the city in­ter­na­tion­ally, but our goal is also to present the op­por­tu­ni­ties and ben­e­fits of the meet­ing in­dus­try lo­cally,” ex­plains the Bureau’s Mar­ket­ing and PR Man­ager, Hana Kre­jbi­chová. “As we co­op­er­ate closely with the city and state bod­ies, we strongly per­ceive the need to in­form the city rep­re­sen­ta­tives about the im­pact of this in­dus­try on Prague and its de­vel­op­ment.”

EME Out­look (EME): Since in­cep­tion, how has the Prague Con­ven­tion Bureau de­vel­oped and pro­gressed in terms of its key ob­jec­tives and the mes­sages it tries to get across?

Hana Kre­jbi­chová (HK): Cru­cial for us was to cre­ate a strong net­work of the key play­ers in the Prague meet­ing in­dus­try; our mem­bers that are proven and re­li­able, pub­lic bod­ies such as the City of Prague and Prague City Tourism, and other or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Prague Air­port or the Czech Academy of Science, uni­ver­si­ties, con­fed­er­a­tions etc. Pub­lic pri­vate part­ner­ships are a base for suc­cess­ful pro­mo­tion and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment in­ter­na­tion­ally and lo­cally as well. There is still, and al­ways will be, a lot to im­prove, but we think we have al­ready cre­ated a solid in­for­ma­tion hub for meet­ing plan­ners and their needs.

To­gether with Prague City Tourism, we have be­gun to pro­mote Prague as an in­spir­ing des­ti­na­tion via the claim: Wow Prague In­Spires. It was also one of the goals to unite the brand with Prague City Tourism and to pro­mote the des­ti­na­tion in the same way. Wow Prague In­Spires is meant to re­fer to the hun­dred spires of Prague and also pro­mote the des­ti­na­tion via peo­ple that were and are in­spired by the city.

EME: To this end, how would you say Prague has de­vel­oped in re­cent years as a busi­ness travel hub and what are the key rea­sons be­hind its grow­ing ap­peal?

HK: There are a whole set of ben­e­fits that help us to de­velop the city in terms of busi­ness travel. Some of them have been here for cen­turies; rich his­tory, cul­ture or the lo­ca­tion of Prague in the heart of Europe. Then there are other fac­tors, on which Prague works con­stantly; a higher num­ber and bet­ter qual­ity of flights, a wide range of ac­com­mo­da­tion ca­pac­i­ties, con­fer­ences and unique venues, cater­ing and AV tech­nolo­gies, lan­guage skills and ex­per­tise of the lo­cal staff and so many oth­ers.

All these to­gether led to the huge suc­cess in 2016, when the city held a record num­ber of events ex­ceed­ing 4,400 con­fer­ences, wel­com­ing more than 540,000 del­e­gates. Cur­rently

Prague can of­fer ac­com­mo­da­tion in nearly 800 ho­tels with a ca­pac­ity of 42,000 rooms and nearly 92,000 beds. What is more, you can eas­ily get to Prague thanks to the di­rect flight from 154 des­ti­na­tions in 51 coun­tries all over the world.

EME: What is in store for Prague over the course of 2017 and be­yond to con­tinue the good work al­ready com­menced and to en­hance its rep­u­ta­tion as a tourism and busi­ness travel hub fur­ther in the fu­ture?

HK: This year in Novem­ber, Prague will wel­come the 56th ICCA (In­ter­na­tional Con­gress and Con­ven­tion As­so­ci­a­tion) Con­gress. We are thrilled to an­nounce that in the mid­dle of July there were nearly 700 par­tic­i­pants reg­is­tered. This will be a great chance to present Prague and its po­ten­tial to the meet­ing plan­ners from all around the world. But of course, there are many other events planned for the rest of 2017. In July, we wel­comed In­tel­li­gent Sys­tems for Molec­u­lar Bi­ol­ogy (ISMB)’s an­nual meet­ing for 2,000 per­son­nel, and the 28th IMC Montes­sori Con­gress for 3,000 at­ten­dees. An­other in­ter­est­ing event will be 7th World Sleep Con­gress that will be held in Oc­to­ber for 1,500 peo­ple and the 22nd Gen­eral As­sem­bly of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tees - ANOC - in Novem­ber for 1,000 peo­ple.

EME: And in terms of in­fra­struc­ture to cater for this de­mand?

HK: Key re­con­struc­tion is go­ing on right now in Prague. The Prague Con­gress Cen­tre is un­der­go­ing ex­ten­sive mod­erni­sa­tion and some of the cru­cial in­no­va­tion will be present al­ready at the 56th ICCA Con­gress in Prague. Along with the new tech­nolo­gies, de­sign and cor­po­rate iden­tity, the new ex­hi­bi­tion hall should be opened to meet the grow­ing de­mand.

The Prague Air­port also pre­sented its mod­ernised Ter­mi­nal 1 area (for non-Schen­gen flights) and an­nounced in­vest­ments of 27 Bil­lion CZK planned over the next decade to boost de­vel­op­ment.

There are on­go­ing re­con­struc­tions of ex­ist­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion ca­pac­i­ties in Prague as well; in­clud­ing MGallery by Sof­i­tel Prague, Sher­a­ton Prague Charles Square Ho­tel, Hil­ton Prague Old Town and The Prague Mar­riott Ho­tel. A new five-star ho­tel, Oc­ci­den­tal Praha Wil­son (for­merly Barceló group), was opened last year and other open­ings have been an­nounced, such as W Ho­tels which will de­but at Wences­las Square in 2020, and NYX Ho­tel which was opened at the end of March this year.

EME: Fi­nally, look­ing for­ward, if we were to speak again in three-five year’s time, what progress and de­vel­op­ment would you hope and ex­pect to be able to re­port back, both in re­gards to the Prague Tourist Board as an en­tity, and in re­gards to the busi­ness travel in­dus­try in Prague as a whole?

HK: We hope that the newly re­con­structed Prague Con­gress Cen­tre and other fa­cil­i­ties will at­tract more in­ter­na­tional con­gresses, con­fer­ences and cor­po­rate events that are in need of larger venues for their meet­ings and look­ing for providers that can of­fer cut­ting-edge tech­nolo­gies. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, we can ob­serve a very pos­i­tive trend of del­e­gates stay­ing in Prague for a longer time. While in 2015, del­e­gates stayed here for 1.99 days on av­er­age, in 2016 it was 2.22 days and we would like to sup­port this trend in fu­ture. Prague should also gain a bet­ter con­nec­tiv­ity to the Prague Air­port in the fu­ture. The new rail­way should lead from the city cen­tre right to the air­port. The ex­pected com­ple­tion of the rail­way is planned for 2025. Nowa­days, you can reach the city cen­tre by car within 20 min­utes.

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