At the beginning of December, Gábor Ganczer, CEO of Hungexpo Zrt., was appointed as the new managing director of GL events Italia.
The task of the specialist, who will also continue to hold the current position in Hungexpo, will be to create and develop the effective operating conditions for the Lingotto Fiere exhibition and event venue in Turin.
In 2009 Ganczer (pictured left) joined Hungexpo, owned by the French GL events group. Under his management, Hungexpo Budapest Congress and Exhibition Centre became the most important venue in Hungary as well as in Central and Eastern Europe.
The CEO has also held the role of president of MARESZ, the Hungarian Association of Event Organisers and Service Providers since 2010, and since November 2022, he has been a board member of UFI.
The Lingotto Fiere is a member of GL events and an important international player in the exhibition industry. It offers integrated solutions and services in the three main market segments: congresses and conferences; cultural/sport events; trade fairs and exhibitions
Turin's Lingotto Fiere is one of the region's important exhibition venues: what does this designation mean in practice?
In Italy, the market for exhibition venues is much larger than in Hungary. In Hungary, there is no other venue like Hungexpo, but we can list about 40 venues in Italy - at least one within a 100 km radius.
Serious exhibition centres can also be found in resort towns such as Rimini, not to mention the big cities (like Milan or Bologna); this means competition is fierce. The country has traditionally been a strong show organiser for decades. It has a wide audience, developed industry and commercial culture, and its cities and regions are strong economic centres.
In terms of the area’s size, the show centre in Turin is half of Hungexpo, with three large exhibition halls. But they also operate the 20,000 sqm sports centre, the Oval Lingotto, which is now only used as an event centre. It was built for the 2006 Winter Olympics, and the city has found its function well within the event market.
The exhibition centre is located around the former Fiat factory, which has been renovated several times except for the sports centre. In its current state, it resembles Hungexpo prior to the refurbishment.
In addition to the renovations, we must find the right products, to make a difference. These are not necessarily only medical association congresses: events that suit the location must be brought to Turin.
How challenging is it to work in a senior position in two places at once in such a specialised market?
I have been leading Hungexpo since 2009: in the last 13 years, we have carried out significant transformations.
We renovated the area, redesigned our portfolio, repositioned all the products and all the exhibitions, and created a new successful business. Namely, providing a professional location and service for congresses, and large international events.
The Budapest team can manage the processes without my daily presence, so I usually base myself in Hungary one, and in Turin the other week. Therefore, I am counting on the Budapest team to help us make the project in Italy a success, and I would like to build a reliable and motivated team to ensure that we can implement there our philosophy of making the business more efficient.
What is Hungexpo's answer to the energy crisis, such as the challenge of heating the halls?
By 2021, all our exhibition halls had been renovated and a new main building built - with an overall investment of €170m.
The pinnacle of the developments was our congress centre, which will primarily serve business tourism. Of course, we are constantly thinking about development and sustainability; the installation of a solar park on our 36-hectare area is in our long-term plans.
The revitalisation of Hungexpo has also brought significant energy efficiency improvements. But we do have large spaces to heat, and to that end, we had to take cost-saving measures, such as turning our thermostats lower. If we pay close attention to energy consumption, significant savings can be achieved.
For larger events, we have transformed our offers by separating the energy charges from the venue rental fee and creating a pay-as-you-go system. Our partners are billed based on their energy consumption.
How is the event market changing? What were the most successful events last year,
We had several successful events in 2022, the was the AGROmash agricultural expo, followed by the SIRHA Budapest gastronomy and hotel industry event. Beside SIRHA we hosted the European final of the Bocuse d'Or for the second time; which attracted many international visitors, fans, journalists, chefs, and gastro-specialists.
The European Congress of Endodontology (ESE) was held in September with over 1,600 participants, occupying the congress centre for four days. The Global Special Operation Forces Symposium Europe organised by Clarion Events also recently took place at Hungexpo.
We have successfully organised major national corporate events such as the Automobile & Tuning Show, and the spring and autumn Wedding Exhibition. These events were able to perform at 2019 levels in terms of exhibitor and visitor numbers.
As for the changing events market, in retrospect, we were right when we said that digital exhibitions and conferences can survive the pandemic, but they will not actually replace live events.
What upcoming events worth paying attention to in 2023?
There is significant interest in all our 2023 exhibitions. This means that, for example, we were not able to provide more exhibitor space for our agricultural exhibition in January, even tough two extra pavilions were built during the renovation. Our exhibition space capacity increased by nearly 20,000 sqm.
Our Fishing and Hunting exhibition, FeHoVa, is also very promising, as is the Construma architecture and interior decoration exhibition. However, in this market, we can sense hesitancy on the part of the companies, depending on economic processes.
There will be many international events, conferences, and medical congresses like the European Academy of Neurology’s (EAN) Annual Congress in summer 2023 expected to attract six-to-eight thousand participants. This is followed by EFIC Congress of the European Pain Society in September. EFTTEX, European Fishing Tackle Exhibition is returning to HUNGEXPO for the 3rd time.
Overall, the 2023 is looking very promising.