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Business Connections #11/2008

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Tourism and Hospitality Committee

Organizing a Conference: Possibilities in Uzbekistan.

Today the most important thing for success of any business is disseminating information. The more people hear and know about your business activities  the more chances your business has to broaden its clientele.  And not only businesses  any initiatives and programs need to be widely informed about.
Now we have many forms of disseminating information. No need to send a messenger to the streets - Internet and advertising do the job quickly and strike the target. There is another very powerful tool that is used widely around the world - be it for business purposes, scientific research results, initiatives or programs  organization of events like conferences, seminars, round table meetings, presentations, congresses, symposiums., etc. It consumes a lot of time and efforts, but surely gives tremendous results in reaching the target group, contributing to the development of business and cultural relationships between people from different backgrounds, ideas and cultures.

MICE  short for “Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events”  has been a booming industry in the western hemisphere. Currently, this sector is beginning to conquer the Russian market, where business tourism already accounts for a large part of the overall travel spending. But what about our country? How can one organize an event for numbers participants in Tashkent, Samarkand or Bukhara? Is there any company in Uzbekistan, who could handle all the time consuming work connected with event organization and management?

I wanted to find answers to the above questions, and first what I did - I opened the Golden Pages telephone book (Issue 4, 2006-2007). Page 175 - conferences, meetings... - there is one information center, three travel agencies and one hotel under this section. None of them really handle the organization of a conference.

So, the telephone book went back on the shelf and I went on Google to search the Internet. The search word combinations: “event management in Uzbekistan”, “conference organization

and management in Uzbekistan” did not give any results for any companies in Uzbekistan (lots of URLs for the companies in Russia and Ukraine, though). I typed in “Conference halls in Tashkent” and found names of the hotels in Tashkent having conference facilities.  Most of them are big hotels like Intercontinental Hotel, Dedeman, Radisson SAS, Grand Mir, Poytakht, Shodlik, Shokh. I called all of them and asked to kindly send me their prices for everything they can offer for conducting a conference for about 100 people. For gathering all the information, it took me two days and several reminding calls back to the hotels, but finally, I found out the following:

1. Conference Hall rent for the whole business day will cost you from $100 to $1,000 (depending on the hotel) and sometimes you can bargain to get it free of charge if you are ordering the whole package.
2. Audio Visual Equipment (Screen, LCD projector, VCR, TV, DVD, Flipchart, Wi-Fi Internet connection) you can get either free of charge or pay from $50 to $200.
3. 0.5 l mineral water, pens and notepads on tables are provided free of charge in big hotels (I guess it is included in the cost of rent), and $35-$300 in smaller hotels.
4. Open Buffet Lunch or Set Lunch Menu - $6-$25 per person. You need to confirm the menu and number of participants in advance
5. 1 coffee break (if 5 kind of cookies, tea, coffee, milk, sugar, lemon)  $4-$6 per person.
6. 2 coffee breaks (as above) - $6-$12 per person.
7. Simultaneous translation (with earphones)  not every hotel can provide translators and equipment for simultaneous translation. If some of them do arrange it for you  it will cost you from $300 to $650 per day.
8. Not a single hotel takes responsibility to arrange anything like planning, management, printing the conference materials, sending invitations, confirming the number of participants, handling visas, airport pickups, etc.  while in the meantime, these are the most time consuming tasks in organizing a conference.

My colleagues from "Semurg Hotel" helped me to do the same survey in Bukhara, and they found out that the situation is more difficult, as there are only two hotels having big conference facilities and equipment in the city (“Semurg” Hotel itself and Bukhoro Palace), and not many printing companies providing inexpensive printing services (today it will cost you UZS 50 - 100 per one page of a black / white printing).

I remember when we were organizing the SME conference for SEAF back in 2000, there were four of us working for one month every day. Getting the materials, printing presentations, putting them into folders, sending out invitations, calling everyone in the list to confirm the presence, going to hotels to check out conference halls and bargaining for prices  having no experience in this field before, we did work hard. Time is a valuable asset, and it would be much easier for us (and it would cost us much less!) if we would hand over all the technical tasks to a company specializing in event organization and management. However, there was no single company to assist us at that time. And there is still no one as of today (or if there is - they do not do any advertisement apparently, as I failed to find any!).

Now, the key benefits to hire such a company for an event organization:

-              They have more experience in this field than you do, it guarantees efficiency in handling all aspects of conference/event organization. They know how to do it step-by-step;
-              They have good arrangements with different hotels - you can get cost saving accommodation of excellent standards and good conference facilities;
-              Free (or cheap) Visa Support for delegates;
-              Time saving & easy logistics. They can also arrange travel, excursions and entertainment for delegates, if needed;
-              They might have integrated conference management software that helps to streamline delegate data processing, and offer such advantages as on-line registration, conference web site support, customized report compilation, financial management, communication records, etc.
-              When organizing a conference you have to deal with many different suppliers, i.e. you would have to do a lot of marketing research in order to find the best ones, while they have a large network of proven suppliers.
-              They will provide professional on-site coordination throughout the conference to control all services and to resolve any possible emergencies.

Apparently, the niche for MICE industry in Uzbekistan is wide open, and there is a good business opportunity for those who would like to set up a successful business  start an Event Management Company, and you will not meet too much of a competition. I wonder who will be the first to do it!!!

(If you need any additional information on this topic, please, do not hesitate to contact me on my e-mail:
Always yours, Nargiza.

Business Connections #8/2007

Business Connections #8


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