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The Warsaw Voice » Business » February 6, 2008
Special Section - TRADE FAIRS
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The Exhibition Business
February 6, 2008   
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The Polish economy is much more exhibition-oriented than English-speaking countries or France, meaning that an exceptionally large number of business contacts are established during trade fairs. Direct contact plays a more important role in wooing new customers than the internet or trade periodicals.

The Polish exhibition industry is doing well and attracting increasing numbers of visitors and exhibitors. The amount of exhibition space is growing as well. Specialist and niche events are winning the market and the exhibitors increasingly include small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for which trade fairs are the best method of researching the market. Much as in other European countries, SMEs constitute the majority of exhibitors in Poland. After the country's European Union entry on May 1, 2004, Poland's trade fairs have successfully fended off competition from better-known exhibition centers in other EU countries. More foreign exhibitors have been coming to Poland in recent years.

The quality of Polish exhibitions has improved significantly over the past several years and they now meet the highest international standards. This primarily involves a greater focus on making sure that exhibitors have customers at an event. Owing to participant pre-registration, an entrepreneur arriving at a fair receives a printout with a list of all appointments scheduled with exhibitors.

A fair's quality is also enhanced by a range of accompanying events, including conferences, seminars and training sessions. Additionally, trade fairs help integrate the business community by providing a venue for socializing and exchanging views. Importantly, trade fairs in Poland are not expensive. No Polish event costs more than the average European fair.

Top of the pack
Although exhibitions take place in many cities across Poland, the Poznań International Fair company (MTP) has remained the national leader for years. Poznań is Poland's largest exhibition center. MTP has long led the way in terms of exhibition space and the number of exhibitors and visitors. Poznań's most popular trade fairs include Budma, Polagra-Food, Polagra-Farm, Meble, Poznań Motor Show, Taropak, and Poleko.

Kielce Trade Fairs is the second biggest exhibition organizer in Poland, attracting some 100,000 visitors a year and holding over 19 percent of the country's exhibition market. Last year Kielce Trade Fairs held 40 fairs and is a leading exhibition center for heavy construction machinery and transport and military equipment. The fairgrounds comprise a modern conference center where nearly 300 conferences, seminars, presentations and exhibitions are held every year. Kielce Trade Fairs is where entrepreneurs from Eastern and Western Europe meet to talk shop. Four years ago Kielce Trade Fairs expanded its range of activities to include exhibitions in Ukraine.

Warsaw has several major exhibition facilities and a total of 64 conference centers. The biggest events are held at the Palace of Culture and Science, which offers over 10,000 sq m of exhibition space and can hold conferences for more than 4,500 participants. Located in the very heart of the city, the facility hosts dozens of national and international exhibitions, congresses, conferences and symposiums every year.

Warsaw's Expo XXI center is among the country's most technologically advanced exhibition facilities. It can hold up to 10,000 people on an area of 10,000 sq m. The center includes two modern multifunction halls connected by a service and conference pavilion. It is located just two kilometers from the city center and a 25-minute drive from Okęcie International Airport.

The southern region of Silesia is yet another major destination for exhibitions in Poland. One of the largest venues here is the Expo Silesia center opened by the Kolporter Expo company in the city of Sosnowiec. Kolporter Expo is among the country's biggest holding companies. The center is 13,500 square meters in area and the parking lot can hold up to 1,000 cars. There is also ample space around the center, so the exhibition premises can be expanded in the future. Eventually Expo Silesia will offer 35,000 sq m of exhibition space, in addition to restaurants and a hotel. The facility is located close to Cracow-Balice and Katowice-Pyrzowice airports, and a several-minute drive from the freeway. Some 8 million people live within an hour's drive from the facility. This year Expo Silesia will hold 17 events, including tourist, pharmaceutical and automotive exhibitions. In September, it will hold a major international event called the World Mining Expo 2008. The exhibition will accompany the 21st World Mining Congress.

Michał Jeziorski
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