Polish congress centres operate on a global scale

International Congress Centre in Katowice and International Conferences and Entertainment (ICE) Kraków sum up their portfolio of events.


24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), the most spectacular event hosted by International Congress Centre in Katowice, provided services for 20,000 participants from 200 United Nations member states.

590 rooms at ICC and the directly linked Spodek arena complex were applied tor the purposes of arranging the conference, along with close to 6,000 pieces of furniture and 190 IT/AV devices. The interiors were prepared in such a way as to guarantee event participants a chance to comfortably spend time between sessions. Green relaxation zones, grab-and-go points with snacks and drinks, as well as the main restaurant zone in Spodek’s main floor were available at their disposal. There were 640 standing places by cocktail tables, 400 seats and two leisure zones - for a total of 1,050 guests.

The ICC and Spodek team handling COP24 was composed of 1,924 members, one-fourth of the whole technical staff working on the event. Close to 500 foodservice operators were employed in the main restaurant zone and the grab-and-go points. The former served 1,500 guests an hour, and the latter - 600 participants an hour.

COP24 visitors drank 65,500 coffees, ate 28,000 sandwiches and 30,500 lunches plus took part in more than 2,120 meetings and side events.

Works on preparing Spodek and International Congress Centre for COP24 purposes were launched in early 2018 and encompassed indispensable renovations, inspections, provisioning, arrangement of technical services, cleaning, security, catering and so-called event management. Moreover, additional pavilions were established to house, i.a. booths of participating states, meeting rooms, as well as the media zone.

Ever since it inaugurated its operations in October 2014, ICE Kraków Congress Centre was visited by 1,022,820 participants of close to 800 events.

Each quarter almost 400 representatives of companies operating in the Kraków meetings industry market get together as part of the Kraków Network platform of knowledge and contact sharing established four years ago by Kraków Festival Office, the venue’s operator. Educational workshops staged in six thematic groups (Hospitality Group, Kraków Food Network, PR Group, Kraków Club of Congress Ambassadors, Kraków Future Lab and Event Group) show that join operations of potential competitors are both possible and effective. From the viewpoint of Kraków, the discussed initiative generated measurable benefits and an opportunity to present itself in the international arena as a responsible and comprehensive destination available for congresses.

While last year the venue’s calendar was dominated by cultural events, in the years to come its operator is planning to boost the number of business projects. Research on the economic impact of the meetings industry on Kraków’s economy confirms that congresses and conferences are increasingly profitable for the city. In 2018 the figures amounted to 1.4 billion PLN spent by participants of business events and close to 2.2 billion PLN of GDP generated by the meetings industry, 3.38% of GDP of Kraków’s whole economy.

ICE Kraków has already become a regular host of numerous international events, including the Impact economic congress, the Open Eyes Economy Summit, Cybersec European Cybersecurity Forum or the prestigious New Frontiers in Interventional Cardiology. The list also includes, i.a. Digital Dragons, the largest video game industry event in this part of Europe, the annual conference staged by the ASPIRE Association, as well as the European Congress of Local Governments, from the very beginning staged in ICE Kraków.

The opinions of event guests are the best recommendation of the discussed venues:
I must admit that when I was going to Poland I expected an entirely different experience. I believed the stereotype that Eastern Europe is by definition poor and plain. The truth is that Polish cities are in no way different from their counterparts in Germany or the Netherlands. I am truly impressed”, says Fei Luo, a COP24 participant hailing from China but currently residing in Amsterdam.

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