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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » January 21, 2009
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Warsaw for Culture Vultures
January 21, 2009   
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Agnieszka Kowalczyk, coordinator of MultiFest.pl, a website aiming to promote Warsaw as a cultural destination, talks to Jolanta Wolska.

Just what is MultiFest.pl?
MultiFest.pl is a Warsaw entertainment and events internet database. It is a free service. People who are planning to come to Warsaw and want to spend their leisure time in an interesting way or have a very special experience, can look up www.multifest.pl and see what they can enjoy on the day, next week or in a couple of months and book ahead.

The website was developed with foreign tourists in mind, but of course it is also useful for visitors from other parts of Poland and well as for the locals.

Whose idea was it to set up MultiFest.pl?
In this case, the saying that two heads are better than one is very appropriate. The idea came from both the Warsaw Destination Alliance (WDA) and the City of Warsaw Bureau of Culture in 2006. The first graphics for the website were financed by the City of Warsaw, while the WDA and The Warsaw Voice financed and organized the online database. The Warsaw Voice also finances the technical aspects of maintaining the website.

The initial idea was to produce a database of Warsaw summer events, as the perception was that not much happens in the capital over summer. But we were amazed to find how vibrant Warsaw is during the summer months. Warsaw does not go on vacation. There is a lot of culture happening here in summer and during the rest of the year. So now we have extended the database to include cultural events all year round.

The Warsaw Destination Alliance is producing a new-look MultiFest.pl website. Why?
We are moving with the times, and we have made the website more user friendly for both internet surfers and organizers of events. Event organizers can place free information in the calendar of events. There is a panel for organizers to log on and there they can enter and update their information.

In the near future, we also plan to extend the website to include information about restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs.
To maintain credibility it is important to ensure that information is updated. Who is responsible for that?
The website is administered by the WDA, The Warsaw Voice and me. So we are responsible for ensuring that all information is correct and up to date. Of course, we are counting on the organizers and their integrity in ensuring that their information is always accurate. Also, we monitor the entered information to ensure we have full control over quality. That is very important.

Do organizers of cultural events know about the website?
We are constantly developing our network in this area. We usually approach organizers via emails, direct contact, and of course by telephone. We contact those organizers that we know are putting on events that will be interesting to our target group, that is foreigners and visitors to Warsaw. And we have many organizers approach us. We are not interested in listing every event in Warsaw, but rather those quality events that we know Warsaw can be proud of internationally and which we would like to "export." We really appreciate the effort organizers put into holding exciting cultural events. It is their work and of course that of their artists that promotes Warsaw as a culturally vibrant capital and a place worth visiting.

We work very closely with the City of Warsaw Promotion and Tourist Bureau, which has its own cultural website www.kulturalna.warszawa.pl, and with the Polish Tourist Organization.

How do foreigners and tourists find out about MultiFest.pl?
It is easy to find our website. We promote it through the media, various tourist outlets and on many other websites. The WDA administers the site and because WDA members also include hotels, we plan to promote the new MultiFest.pl website in all hotels. Additionally, the website is a channel for hotel workers, from the concierge and receptionist to the waiter in the restaurant, who when asked by hotel guests what they can do in the evening or the next day, can easily look up the website and provide a myriad of suggestions. We will be working closely with eBilet.pl, which is one of the biggest online ticket sales for entertainment events. And there are many other institutions with which we want to work to ensure that we provide the best entertainment information service.

Tourists, like the rest of the population, are very diverse in age and interest. How does MultiFest.pl deal with that?
The events listed are as diverse as are our visitors. MultiFest.pl contains information about concerts, mainstream theater, fringe events, outdoor festivals, and exhibitions of all sorts. It is like a puzzle: without organizers the project will not work and without a project we won't find sponsors to help us promote Warsaw as the cultural capital to visit. So we try to put the puzzle together. Our dream is that everyone will find something of interest to them on the website-whether it's a family with children who comes to Warsaw, or an elderly couple from America, a foreign businessperson with their spouse, or backpackers.

Apart from events, there is also useful tourist information on the website, such as public transport, transport maps, with links that constantly update those sites to ensure that the information is current.

Our aim is to draw as many foreign tourists and business people to Warsaw as possible, and convince them that they should choose Warsaw rather than some other capital in Europe.
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