For over two decades, business events have been an important area covered by the activities of the Poland Convention Bureau (PCB). In Poland, the GDP for the meeting industry was one per cent in 2015 and 1.5 per cent in 2019, translating into at least 220,000 jobs people employed in the meeting industry alone. Currently, experts estimate the potential of the meetings industry at three to four per cent of GDP, depending on the events that are taken into account.

Poland Convention Bureau was created in 2002 as a department of the Polish Tourism Organisation (PTO) and is responsible for promoting the country as a destination for business events. Twenty years later, the convention bureau achieved its status as an independent entity within the framework of the tourism organisation, and Aneta Ksiazek was appointed as the head of the convention bureau. Today, the PCB team consists of three core members, and has recently welcomed marketing specialist Magda Mazgaj, and chief digital marketing specialist Jaroslaw Marciuk.

“Their collaborative efforts are further bolstered by the invaluable support we receive from various PTO departments, including the Planning and Development Department, the Marketing and Communication Department, and the Department of Tourism Development Support,” says Aneta Ksiazek.

“Despite facing challenges, the sector is on a path of recovery. Our office primarily focuses on promoting our country and supporting our meetings industry. We are witnessing the emergence of new convention bureaux. Currently, there are 14. Also, we see growing interest from our industry in participating in trade fairs and workshops, and we are actively working to expand our initiatives both within Poland and internationally.”

Organising global events is an ongoing endeavour in which international connections and a country’s intellectual and business potentials play pivotal roles. Poland has a wealth of scientists and experts across various fields who actively engage in international associations and enjoy global recognition. The objective is to establish connections with individuals and thought leaders through the development of the Polish Congress Ambassadors Program.

So far, the title of Polish Congress Ambassador has been awarded to 300 individuals, and a group of people from the world of economics, science and culture have taken part in the Project Chapter, a task  group chosen every third year and charged with selecting the ambassadors. The selected individuals are people well-suited to promote Poland as a place for forthcoming international events, and to publicise information about Poland’s best points within their respective global fields.

“Poland needs to create a compelling narrative about what it offers as a business events destination”

Collaboration is deeply ingrained in the Polish DNA, and The Polish Congress Ambassadors Program is a prime illustration of this spirit. Initiated 25 years ago through a partnership between the tourism organisation and the non-governmental organisation the Conference and Congress Association. The partnership was established to champion the country as a premier destination for international congresses and conferences.

Since 1998, the Polish Conference and Congress Association (SKKP) has been actively representing the interests and aspirations of Poland’s business events industry. It encompasses various stakeholders, individuals and legal entities organising events such as congresses, motivational gatherings, and other business events.

With around 80 regular members (individuals) and supporting members (legal entities), the association collaborates with governmental and local authorities in the tourism sector. Its primary partnership is with the Poland Convention Bureau under the Polish Tourism Organisation. Additionally, the SKKP collaborates with various other organisations dedicated to advancing the interests of professional conference organisers, both nationally and internationally.

Poland has been gaining popularity as a business events destination in recent years. To succeed, and enhance its position, in this competitive market, Aneta Ksiazek says Poland should address several strategic areas. One of them is infrastructure and accessibility.

“Poland’s accessibility is crucial for attracting international business events. Having well-developed transportation infrastructure, including airports, highways, railways and public transportation, is essential. From May 9th to 11th, the Routes Europe 2023 forum took place in Lodz. The international event was hosted by the city, Lodz Airport and the PCB, and PTO was a partner of the event. Over 1,100 delegates from across Europe, as well as the United States, Canada, United Arab Emirates, China, and Israel, participated in the event. Among them were representatives of 93 airlines and 250 airports.”

During the forum, airline carriers met with representatives from airports and tourism organisations to discuss new air connections. The academic part of the Routes Europe 2023 conference was dedicated to the exchange of experiences and best practices through a series of ‘Keynote Arena’ panels, addressing topics such as sustainable transportation perspectives, environmental challenges in the aviation industry, postpandemic changes in travel, and aviation infrastructure financing issues.

“Stories of Poles assisting Ukrainians and offering shelter to those in need have attracted attention”

Aneta Ksiazek claims that from a strategic point of view, effective marketing and promotion are essential for attracting business events. Without strong marketing and promotion efforts, even a destination with most excellent infrastructure and venues could struggle to attract events.

“Poland needs to create a compelling narrative about what it offers as a business events destination, highlighting its unique selling points, cultural attractions, and business-friendly environment. Collaborating with industry associations and event planners can help raise awareness and generate interest in Poland as a preferred location for business events. We try to intensify our activities both nationally and abroad, and this fall we will launch a new marketing campaign dedicated to international meeting planners and event organisers.”

When looking at the three most important challenges for the Poland Convention Bureau today, Aneta Ksiazek says: “First of all, continuing to care for Poland’s appearance, despite recent events like the war in Ukraine. We can conclude that there are currently large investments in IT, that business has great potential, and that the country is safe. Secondly, raising industry awareness and educating people about ESG is not only a trend but an additional directive.

“Thirdly, we have a record-high network of 14 city and regional convention bureaux on the business map of Poland. Our main convention bureau supports their actions and enables direct action, and it turns out that the market is developing and should be reinforced through various activities, including educational ones such as the Eventprofs Creators Lab. So I wish we had more employees to be able to achieve more.”

Looking to the future, what does Aneta Ksiazek see regarding business events in her country?

“Poland is gaining popularity, and the current European landscape has provided opportunities for positive media coverage. Stories of Poles assisting Ukrainians and offering shelter to those in need have attracted attention. As we observe various vlogs, blogs, and media articles, it’s evident that there is a growing fascination with this topic. Travellers are also admiring our country’s cuisine and appreciating the value for money, the warmth and hospitality of the Polish people, and are highlighting the country’s safety.

“Finally, our destination is witnessing the construction of new congress facilities and new hotel openings. This development offers fresh prospects, particularly for event planners who trust Poland’s commitment to safety.”