Prague Convention Bureau
PRAGUE CONVENTION BUREAU (PCB)
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.