Bratislava is unique because of its atmosphere and unexpected experiences. In one day you can manage to visit robotic car assembly lines, drive electric cars through the city, ride speedboats on the Danube river, raft the wild water canal, host a welcome cocktail on a rooftop and enjoy vineyard located venues for local culinary treats.
It is a common perception that Bratislava is still regarded as an undiscovered European congress capital, yet it is becoming more and more popular among the meeting industry. For that reason, we locked heads with Ms. Alžbeta Melicharová, Chairman of Bratislava CVB, to get to know their work in the city a bit better. “[The] awareness of Bratislava as a modern and safe metropolis is increasing,” she told us. “Anyone who has visited Bratislava is positively surprised. Meeting organisers state that we are good value for money with hyper accessibility and perceived as an innovative destination. From the pulsating downtown, you can reach the Carpathian forests and Danube meadows in just 20 minutes.”
In her opinion, the most important values of Bratislava in attracting people from the MICE industry is its accessibility via air, road and river, its uncompromising innovative force present in the fast-growing start-up ecosystem and its world-class research and development. Added to that, of course, is its excellence in execution, all key factors that make it a suitable place for the MICE industry – Bratislava is definitely a destination to attract high-end business meetings.
The Bratislava convention bureau is also cooperating with the Slovak Convention Bureau, as Melicharová noted: “The role of the Slovak CVB for any MICE-related matters is absolutely essential. We all need their national brand to promote ourselves, to bid for congresses, and also their financial support. We work very closely together and we believe we will in the future. Without them we would not be viable.”
The most difficult challenge for the Bratislava Convention Bureau is the vision to position Bratislava as a relevant MICE destination in Central Europe – which was, and still is, a challenge for their convention bureau. Initially they had to establish a MICE platform to address and bring together all the stakeholders, including the Municipality representatives, DMCs, PCOs, hotels and non-tourism influencers and opinion makers. They also had to unify on how to communicate Bratislava as a MICE destination – to be relevant, targeted and consistent. Despite all of these challenges, they are proud to say that today this platform exists and communicates widely according to set principles.
Bratislava has since then experienced a multiple increase in incoming guests, they are aware of creative campaigns and have successfully implemented new branding pillars of Bratislava as a MICE destination: “ACCESSIBILITY | INNOVATION | EXECUTION” along with the tagline “Surprisingly close, exceptionally smart”. Despite the achievements to date they would still wish to have even greater support from the city representatives who acknowledge the benefits of MICE industry for a city. Their common wish is to develop a dedicated and modern centre in Bratislava.
As has already been noted, the key benefit of organising MICE events in Bratislava is accessibility. The city enables the hosting of smaller or larger events but still offers a touch of the local spirit. For example, in hosting a European car launch event planners can even get to have Bratislava all to their own, while booking out the major venues and hotels.
The CVB is also well aware that MICE events are not only about business, so they also have a wide range of incentive offers that will create a truly memorable experience. “Bratislava is unique because of its atmosphere and unexpected experiences. In one day you can manage to visit robotic car assembly lines, drive electric cars through the city, ride speedboats on the Danube river, raft the wild water canal, host a welcome cocktail on a rooftop and enjoy vineyard located venues for local culinary treats. You can’t imagine how many experiences Bratislava can offer in less than 12 hours,” explained Melicharová.
Alongside all the business we also wanted to get a bit more personal and get some ideas on what to see and do in the “undiscovered city”. We got some great tips from Melicharová on what to visit on a business trip to Bratislava, if you’ve only got 24 hours. In her opinion, one should wander around the picturesque and narrow streets of Bratislava to get a feel of the green environment and the relaxing atmosphere. Then it would be on to Bratislava Castle, where one could enjoy great panoramic views over the city, followed up by a post-socialistic city tour or a speedboat ride on the Danube River to explore the city from another angle. For a cultural experience, one shouldn’t miss a unique gallery called Nedbalka, featuring modern fine arts, and for great local cuisine one should visit Savoy or Zylinder Restaurant with its local “Pressburg cuisine”.
When choosing the perfect meeting destination, a bit of a hint from Melicharová’s favourite meeting spot might come in quite handy: “UFO restaurant overlooking the Danube, as well as many other fine dining restaurants are truly worth exploring. There is a range of trendy and authentic places with local treats, home-made bread and spreads (typical for our local day-to-day nutrition), craft beers and fantastic local wines.”
Discover the “undiscovered”, and meet in Bratislava – “Surprisingly close, exceptionally smart”.