Tourism experts call on the private sector to bring the international perception of Hungary up to date with reality.
The reality of modern-day Hungary as a youthful, vibrant country with rich contemporary culture and daring entrepreneurialism is at dire odds with its international perception as traditional and staid. This was the opinion expressed at the recent HOTCO hotel investment conference in Budapest.
Tourism industry experts – including David Keen, CEO of hotel and travel branding agency QUO; Ivan Rozsa, Director of Communications for Budapest 2024; Marcin Herra, CEO of EVolutio; and András Berta, International Relations Director at Sziget Cultural Management – see Hungary, and Budapest in particular, as a dynamic destination set to drive major change in Europe. In order to realise its potential, however, efforts must be made to change the international travel community’s perception of the country. David Keen, who recently branded the Thai tourism destination of Phuket, called on Hungary’s private sector to come together and establish a unified vision of how it wants the country to be perceived.
Keen explained, “Hungary is a thrilling modern country with a youthful and energetic population. It has undergone significant changes in a very short period of time but the outside perception has not kept up with what is going on here right now.” He added that, “The Hungarian private sector needs to take ownership of how the rest of the world sees Hungary, and drive a repositioning of the country that accurately reflects all that is good about this very contemporary, very ‘happening’ destination.”
The panel discussed how the experiences of foreigners attending large international events like the Sziget Festival and Balaton Sound will play a part in reshaping outside opinion.
Directly addressing the attending hotel industry executives, Keen expanded on the theme of brand building through experiential travel, asserting that, “Modern travellers are desperately looking for unique experiences, and it is up to the destinations and hotels to successfully deliver distinct, memorable experiences in order to build brand equity.”
He went on to say that, “In an industry facing significant disruption in the way it does business, global hotel companies that rigidly enforce narrow brand and operational standards risk being perceived as stale and out of date. Meanwhile, smaller, regional brands are currently much better positioned for future success due to their agility in adapting to the needs and desires of guests that are looking for something new and different.”
While suggesting that smaller hotel brands are currently better positioned to achieve greater innovation in guest experience, the hotel branding expert did note that some global hotel companies are heading in the right direction. He highlighted the recent launch of JO&JOE by AccorHotels, which has reinvented the approach to creating unique experiences by closely involving target guests in the formation of the brand.