THE CONGRESS AND EXHIBITION CENTRE HAS ALREADY RUN SOME MAJOR INTERNATIONAL EVENTS IN ITS FIRST FULL YEAR SINCE THE REOPENING
After a complete refurbishment taking two years, HUNGEXPO Budapest, owned by the French GL events Group, a worldwide provider of integrated solutions and services for events, welcomes events to the Hungarian capital’s fully renewed Congress and Exhibition Centre.
With its extensive international contacts and network of representatives, HUNGEXPO Budapest lays claim to be the leading exhibition and conference organiser in Central and Eastern Europe.
The recently completed €170m (HUF55bn) investment has resulted in the construction of two brand new pavilions – one of 7,250sqm and one of 5,700 sqm – and a new contemporary reception hall, as well as the renovation of three other pavilions with a total area of more than 32,000sqm. During the process, more than 70,000sqm of indoor and 36 hectares of outdoor space were renewed.
The main new feature of the development is the construction of a congress centre with 26 section rooms, equipped with state-of-the-art audiovisual technology, and a capacity for 2,000 plenary sessions.
The plenary hall is equipped with the latest Gala Seats retractable seating system, which allows the venue to be transformed from an auditorium-like layout to a flat space in a matter of minutes, as required. The 72sqm, high-definition LED wall behind the stage is also a record-breaker in Hungary.
The investment that has now been completed makes up for decades of backlog, the CEO of HUNGEXPO Gábor Ganczer, said at the opening. “Budapest was already a prime destination for conference tourism, but due to the lack of a suitable venue, it has only benefited to a limited extent from one of the most important and lucrative branches of conference and business tourism. With a modern congress centre and the revitalisation of the entire area, Budapest will be one of the top five conference destinations in Europe and will now be able to host international congresses and conferences of almost any size,” he added, pointing out that this major, comprehensive renovation and expansion allowed the facility to “arrive in the 21st century.”
More and more events expected
According to the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) database, Budapest has so far lagged far behind Vienna and Prague in the number of annual association events due to lack of capacity. With the expansion of Hungexpo, Budapest is now expected to become one of Europe’s top five conference destinations and the Hungarian capital will be able to achieve a better ICCA ranking as well since it will be able to host more and bigger events than before.
The recently released ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association) rankings place the Hungarian capital Budapest 12th in the world out of more than 1,200 destinations, coming out ahead of popular European cities like Copenhagen, Rome, and London. Similarly, Budapest’s rating has climbed 13 places with the Brussels-based UIA (Union of International Associations), advancing to its current position in the top 20 international meeting cities.
Major events held at Hungexpo since the renovation included the the International Eucharistic Congress and Planet Budapest Sustainability Expo and Summit last year. In 2022 HUNGEXPO hosted for the second time the Bocuse d’Or European Selection, the prestigious chef’s competition followed by the European Congress of Endodontology (ESE) with over 1,600 participants, occupying the congress centre for four days in September. The Global Special Operation Forces Symposium Europe organised by Clarion Events also recently took place here.
Although visitors and clients are more cautious and are experiencing a 15-20% decline, Gábor Ganczer is optimistic for the coming year. With the resumption of international events in 2022, a rebound is expected in 2023-24: “Following an unprecedented quiet period for the events industry worldwide caused by the pandemic, event organisers, associations and corporates are eager to return with their events to be able to meet face-to-face. Exhibitors and visitors are very much looking forward to once more attending well-regulated business events.”
For the coming years, HUNGEXPO has already secured some large international congresses like the European Academy of Neurology's (EAN) Annual Congress in summer 2023 with six to eight thousand participants followed by EFIC Congress of the European Pain Society next September.
In its first year since the renewal, HUNGEXPO also welcomed the annual congress of AIPC, the International Association of Convention Centres with the theme ‘Reshaping the Future’. Sven Bossu, CEO of AIPC said: “I had the pleasure to see the profound transformation of HUNGEXPO on site and it is truly impressive. The brand-new conference centre is not only pleasing for the eye, it also offers ultimate flexibility in terms of room capacity and set-up – including the plenary room, which can be transformed into several multi-function spaces in a minimum of time. This needs to be considered in combination with the renewed exhibition halls, varying from 5,000sqm to 20,000sqm, which are only a footstep away. As a result, HUNGEXPO can indeed host any type of event, whether it is a big congress with an exhibition or a massive exhibition with a small conference. These days, flexibility is the key success factor and HUNGEXPO definitely has everything it takes,” he stressed.
With the two new exhibition halls and the new congress centre, HUNGEXPO is now the largest multifunctional exhibition and congress venue in Central Eastern Europe.
HUNGEXPO team is attending IBTM World in Barcelona this year on the HUNGARIAN national stand G20 and looks forward to meeting event professionals visiting this year’s show.