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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » August 13, 2008
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Warsaw is Like an Uncut Diamond
August 13, 2008   
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Żaneta Berus, managing director of the Expo XXI international exhibition center in Warsaw, talks to Jolanta Wolska.

You have been with Expo XXI since its beginnings seven years ago. How has the exhibition industry changed over this time?
We started at a difficult time when the whole industry was in a state of stagnation. The Polish economy experienced slow growth as well.

Today we have established our position. We give our clients "silver service." We are open and transparent-all of which contributes to ensuring that our clients return to us. We offer the best and most modern exhibition space available in Warsaw, with the most up-to-date technology and facilities, equal to the best in Europe.

We are unique in our industry as we provide the venue, but we do not ourselves organize any fairs, conferences or events. This means we do not compete with our own clients. We hold about 200 events annually. Our venue is multifunctional. We not only host trade fairs and conferences, but also congresses, banquets, galas, product promotions and even movie productions. Recently the Film Academy from Berlin staged a film festival here and we hosted the Lexus Fashion Night staring Sharon Stone.

We notice that exhibition organizers are more creative and inventive in their approach and preparation these days. The stands are very attractive; each one stands out and promotes the company in an innovative way. Also organizers have started to come up with value-added ideas such as accompanying concerts, special marketing promotions, next to the usual conferences and seminars. Organizers understand that despite the internet, fairs are still the best way to reach new customers.

How does Expo XXI compare with venues in other cities, such as the Poznań International Fair, for example?
We rank second in Poland after Poznań in terms of the number of visitors and the number of exhibitors, as well as the number of trade fairs held.

The Poznań International Fair is subsidized by the Poznań city authorities. One can only envy the fact that they recognize the importance of trade fairs to the economy.

I would wish that the City of Warsaw recognize the real economic potential of Warsaw's Expo XXI. We are in fact helping the city develop. Thanks to us more than half a million people visit the center and Warsaw annually, of which 250,000 are guests and those coming to fairs. Also many thousands of foreigners come to our venue and these are the people that the city wants to attract the most. They are the businessmen who usually stay in town for two to four days, usually in five-star hotels. They use taxis, eat in good restaurants, and go to concerts. It is an enormous untapped potential. Statistics indicate that thanks to Expo XXI visitors spend about 80 million euros in Warsaw annually. Such figures are hard to ignore.

What percentage of fairs are local and how many are from abroad?
This has also changed over the years. Initially, we concentrated on the local scene and particularly business from Warsaw, then we went national. Currently, we see an increase in the number of international fairs; about 35 percent of fair organizers are from abroad, and this number is growing constantly.

What are your plans for Expo XXI in the future?
We plan to build a new hall next to our existing one that will have 4,000 square meters of exhibition space. In total we will have 17,000 sq m, including indoor and outdoor space. We will be the biggest such center in Warsaw. So my plans are tied to the expansion to be completed next year. We will also continue to provide even better service to our clients and listen to their needs. Also we are open to cooperation with the organizers of the Euro 2012 soccer tournament, both prior to the games and during the championships. We have the capacity to hold many special events.

I would wish for the city authorities to work closer with us and listen to what we have to say because we are close to the industry and hence know it best. And of course our sales team will do all in their power to increase the number of international fairs and high-caliber events. We trust that with the cooperation with the Warsaw Destination Alliance, of which we are members, and the WCB, we will be able to intensify our efforts abroad. And then the cake will be bigger for all.

We try to promote Poland and Warsaw as best we can. Warsaw is like an uncut diamond with great potential but it needs to be cut well and promoted well. My wish list also includes the desire to revive stalled cooperation with various Polish institutions responsible for promotion, so that they would cooperate rather than compete with one another.
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