HUNGEXPO: REINFORCING ITS LEADING ROLE IN HUNGARY AS WELL AS THROUGHOUT THE CENTRAL-EASTERN EUROPEAN REGION
Q: How did you get started in the industry? Did you ever consider doing anything else?
I began my career precisely 25 years ago at Hungary’s greatest hotel operating firm. Here I gained experience in hosting conferences and banquets. I worked in various positions for years, managing multiple hotels and conference centers and these experiences helped me in adopting a new approach to managing an event center. In 2009, I became the CEO of Hungexpo Zrt. and came into closer contact with the exhibition industry. This is a highly intricate and complex task which you can never grow bored of, only you experience different aspects of it as a greater challenge over various periods, but actually I am not thinking about doing anything else with my time.
Q: What is the biggest change in the trade shows since you began working on them?
I feel that the B2C exhibitions have become increasingly specialized. Those of our events are truly successful which target a well-defined audience, whether it’s hunters, motorbike or sailboat enthusiast. The age of grand, general fairs is over. The role of B2B exhibitions is growing year by year and it is precisely the financial crisis which showed that they are indispensable in the marketing mix of firms. Despite the gloomy forecasts, their role didn’t decrease next to the growing importance of the Internet; quite to the contrary, their role has become more highly appreciated.
Q: What is the essence of the Hungexpo business model? What makes it the top exhibition organizing company in Hungary?
Hungexpo’s approach is based on three pillars: our self-owned exhibitions still come in first, yet guest exhibitions and various international conferences also have an increasingly greater importance in our portfolio. Apart from organizing our own exhibitions, our goal is for Budapest to increase its presence on the international market as an attractive destination and for people to come visit us in increasingly higher numbers. We’ve opened our doors to conferences, congresses, and large-scale corporate events and we’ve shifted our HR strategy accordingly. Our current direction is based on flexible workforce distribution, multi-functional leadership roles and many-sided work. In this process we rely on highly experienced colleagues as well as younger employees who are aware of the new trends. The appropriate infrastructure also plays a key role in this, since the French-owned GL events corporate group spent on developing the 36-hectare site including, amongst other things, the construction of a 22 million EUR multi-functional pavilion, giving us 70,000 square meters of indoor exhibition space. Still, personally, I am the proudest of the fine-tuned work of my team: we came up with a number of new exhibitions as well as developing the older ones and achieved significant success. To this very day, HUNGEXPO is the market leader in Hungary.
Q: Are you looking to expand your portfolio of trade shows in Eastern Europe?
To this end, we are planning to introduce newly themed exhibitions as well as significant infrastructural developments. Our regional leading role can also be witnessed in the fact that a sizeable portion of the exhibitors and visitors at our events come from foreign countries, mainly from the neighboring countries.
Q: What do you think the future holds in the field of trade shows/fairs? Where do you see the potential for Hungexpo?
Years ago, the crisis deeply affected this industry – along with other parts of the economy. However, by now these are outweighed by the positive tendencies. Exhibitions usually forecast the changes to take place in the economy of the country in question. This is a cause for joy, since it means that if we’re doing well, then the economy is also doing well, or at least it will in the immediate future. We’re one of the companies which not only remained afloat over the recent decades, but also continued to develop itself and become increasingly profitable. At Hungexpo, we are continuously examining the market in order to supplement the company’s range of events with successful fairs targeting the general public, apart from our professional events.
Q: Which trade shows do you expect will grow in the near future?
I mainly see the potential for growth in the field of industry, including the agricultural machine industry, and the automotive and food industries. We have highly successful events in these fields, some of which are new developments. These are the key sectors of the Central-Eastern European economies, so it’s natural that they produce the greatest level of interest from exhibitors and professional audiences alike. Also, it’s worth focusing on the theme of leisure time, since there is a great potential for development in cycling, active tourism, hunting and angling.
Q: How do you see the impact and effectiveness of a Hungarian National DMO?
Recently, reorganized and re-established the Hungarian National DMO, so the results and effectiveness of the new organization are too early to talk about. As the CEO of the largest professional event organizer and Federation of Hungarian Event Organizers and Suppliers, I consider it important that Hungary and Budapest have uniform brand image so maybe more tourist and corporate event or guest to congress will come to Hungary. To do this, we provide all support and trust of the Hungarian National DMO successful operation.
Q: How would you describe your job?
My colleagues and me do everything we can to preserve and reinforce the firm’s positive image. Every day yields some development, every day we have challenges to face, and every day we’d like to give answers to these issues. Not a single minute of development goes to waste since an hour later it might be too late to act.
Q: What are the best moments you remember from your work?
After every exhibition, we sit down with my colleagues and discuss our experiences and I can tell from the look of them that they are just as eager to be successful as I am. The most fantastic experience of the recent period was the successful hosting of the European finals of the Bocuse d’Or, after which we were deeply congratulated by the International Bocuse Academy.
Q: What kind of people/co-workers inspire you the most?
Those who are independent enough to solve the arising problems, yet are still capable of thinking as a team – especially those who have enough foresight to start solving a problem before it even surfaces.
Q: What is the best advice you have for everyone workingin the trade show business?
“Nothing is impossible, there’s a solution for everything.”