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Be representative of Korean key industries

——Interview with Dongwon Lee, Coex Convention and Exhibition Center President and CEO

Please briefly introduce the facilities of Coex and its business achievements in 2018.

Lee: Coex Convention & Exhibition Center is located in Gangnam, Seoul’s business district, and hosts a yearly average of 200 exhibitions and over 2,000 separate meetings and events. Our meeting facilities consists of 4 main exhibition halls with a combined 36,007 sqm of exhibition space and 55 dividable meeting rooms with our largest hall able to accommodate up to 7,000 people.

We had a very strong and successful year 2018 as our center hosted a range of major international conferences such as the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Congress (6,000 pax), Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics Asia Pacific Summit (4,000 pax). In addition, we organized more than 20 exhibitions both domestically and abroad.

Moreover, Coex organized and hosted a number of public festivals such as our annual C-Festival which was visited by more than 1.5 million people last year and generated an estimated 126 million USD in economic impact. 

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Does the Korean Government or Seoul City Government have specific targets and supporting policies for the MICE industry? What do you think venue can best play their role in MICE activities in this age?

Lee: The city government has been making a big push to create local MICE jobs and fostering participation and engagement from the public in MICE events. For instance, Seoul Tourism Organization made a separate division, Seoul Convention Bureau, to focus on MICE industry and run support programs for exhibition organizers and individual companies to receive financial aid.

As Coex is the only large-scale convention center located in Seoul, I think we are perfectly positioned to do just that by acting as a bridge between organizations, the city and national governments, and the public. At the same time many of the events we host on an annual basis are from key Korean industries, like the medical and electronics field, and even growing industries such as AI and blockchain, showcasing that venues are more than just a physical space but a springboard where business is conducted, jobs are created, and ideas are planted.

 

The demands of MICE visitors have been evolving. How does your venue manage to stay relevant?

Lee: Coex is conveniently located in the center of Seoul’s business district, offering easy access for anyone. Besides a venue’s overall infrastructure, location and use of technology, we’re finding that visitors today are increasingly attracted by the venue’s add-on offerings. In this regard, we’re very proud of our Coex MICE Cluster (CMC) - an alliance of of 16 MICE related organizations - offering optimal services and experiences for our center visitors. Members of the CMC include three 5-star hotel properties directly connected to our convention center, a mega underground shopping mall, aquarium, movie theater, city airport terminal, and many more.

 

How is the situation of MICE talent cultivation in Coex?

Lee: Coex hosts an active internship program throughout the year allowing young students aspiring to learn about this industry, a chance to experience the field for themselves. This includes market research and event preparation to event management and participation.

We also fully support employees to expand their own knowledge and insight of this field by encouraging them to participate in seminars, forums, educational groups, and pursue higher education and certification. Currently, more than 50% of our employees are CMP and/or CEM certified. We’ve found that these outside stimulations sparks creative innovations and solutions to help us maintain our best practices.

 

Green MICE is a mark of many leading venues nowadays. How is Coex doing in this regard?

Lee: Coex is continually working to reduce our ecological footprint as reflected by our LEED Silver and EarthCheck Silver certifications. For example, we’ve replaced much of our lighting with LED models, both in and outside our center.

Having a green center also requires active participation from our many visitors as well. In addition to our center being accessible via a range of public transportation options, we encourage and assist our visitors to take other green transportation options which is why we’ve installed a large bicycle station as well as electronic vehicle charging stations at our venue. Additionally, Coex, as exhibition organizer, is continuously enforcing the use of eco-friendly materials and limiting use of the pytex flooring within the exhibition halls.

Are you attending the upcoming 2019 UFI Asia-Pacific Conference? What are the industry topics that attract you most?

Lee: Although I will be unable to attend the upcoming UFI Asia-Pacific Conference due to a conflict in schedule, I am keen to hear more from Mr. Jasper Donat on his topic of the Festivalisation of Events. Coex is not only looking to organize and host public events that brings together a wide range of fields and industries but we are also working to build unique and lasting events that will be representative of Coex and Korea.


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