SUBVENTIONS FOR CONFERENCES IN NEW EUROPE
Proudly serving the city of Gdansk since 2005, the 36-year-old Michał Brandt is a senior business specialist who has been working in tourism (the Gdansk Convention Bureau) since 2015. Before that he acquired extensive experience as a press officer for UEFA EURO 2012 in Gdansk and at the newly constructed Energa Stadium. Privately, Michał is a husband and also a father of a 2-year-old son. He loves travel, board games and meeting with friends over a glass of beer.
Q: Does your city have any strategic subvention plan for conferences?
No, we don’t, however we support event organisers in other ways.
Q: What kind of subventions does your city offer and for what kinds of events?
We offer types of facilitation: the GCB EVENT free conference app, a mobile info point, material about Gdansk or Tourist Cards at special, reduced prices for participants. We also share our knowledge of the local market and we can build an entire offer depending on demand. We can suggest the most appropriate location, catering, hotels, incentive or transport companies and put organisers in contact with them. And we also work with local authorities and can indicate the right office in the City Hall, help to organize the required permits etc.
Q: What is the most important part in applying for a subvention?
We don’t differentiate between organisers and we try to help every company that runs their events in our region, especially in Gdansk. The important thing is that they contact us. We therefore run promotion campaigns and take part in many events to let potential organisers know that we exist and are ready to provide help and support.
Q: Does your city subvention offer include any free travel or reduced local transportation to and within the city, any venue for free, any kind of free reception, free brochure or marketing?
Yes – we can provide transportation tickets at a better price for participants of big events and we can also take part in negotiating the price for a venue, but a free venue is extremely rare to be honest. On the other hand, one of Gdansk’s perks is that we are already very attractive in terms of cost compared to Western European countries – you get great quality for a very reasonable price. The same goes for hotels and other services. Of course, the reception, materials and promotion on our website – www.visitgdansk.com – and on our social media profiles is free.
Q: Are subventions the latest big thing in the meeting industry or should they be considered as the very last option for a destination to win an association meeting?
I don’t think they are the very last, but not at the top either. When companies choose destinations for their events, and I can tell you this from my experience, the first thing is location and transportation. Does the city have good, direct flight connections? How long does the flight take? What’s the distance to the airport? Then it’s the infrastructure: how good and modern are the venues and are there enough hotel rooms in the vicinity? Thirdly it’s cost – how much can I save in total, compared to other destinations? And this is where the subventions come in – can I count on financial help from the local Convention Bureaux? Then it’s safety, a very current topic in Europe – how much do I have to invest in security? What are the chances of a terrorist attack and so on. Lastly: what can my participants do after the conference (a nice old town, a good restaurant etc.)?
Q: Tell us something about your latest success story and use of subventions from your city?
In February of this year we were the host for the European Cities Marketing Spring Meeting, an event for over 200 people. We organised the venue hotels, transportation etc. and that was quite a challenge, especially as the weather in Poland in February is not the best… But we managed to do it and over the three days all of the participants were satisfied, not only because of the core programme but also because of what we offered afterwards and because of the efficient organisation. We received many praising (if not also somewhat surprised) voices. We also successfully invited a special guest, a legendary leader of Solidarity – Lech Wałęsa. Yep – we did it!