Palacio de Congresos València: A Benchmark for Business Travel!

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Spanish venue, HQ spoke to Sylvia Andrés, General Manager of the Valencia Convention Centre
25th Jun, 2024

At the end of the last century, one of the most emblematic buildings in the European MICE sector was born in València. Designed by Norman Foster, the Valencia Conference Centre (VCC) is a landmark in the city’s history as a congress and conference venue, having been voted the World’s Best Convention Centre in 2018 and 2010. The venue, that was envisioned as one of the city’s strategic points of reference for event travel, celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, having become one of the most important business forums and a benchmark for management, innovation and activity.

To mark this milestone, HQ spoke with Sylvia Andrés, Managing Director at the VCC.

Can you reflect on some of the most significant milestones and successes over the past 25 years?

For a quarter of a century, the VCC has been leading the way. On 2 July 1998, the building that would be the precursor to the transformation of the northeast area of the city of Valencia opened its doors. Today, it is an iconic building that attracts people from all over the country and the world. Since it opened, the venue has hosted 3,300 events and welcomed 2.4 million attendees.

Furthermore, the VCC was also recognised as the World’s Best Convention Centre in 2018 and 2010. The AIPC Apex Award is the highest international recognition a conference centre can receive, and its importance lies in the fact that it is based entirely on the opinions of clients who organise events, mainly congresses and conventions.

What are some of the most memorable events that have taken place at the VCC over the years?

There have been many national and international congresses, business meetings and events of all kinds that have made the VCC a diverse space. The importance of our activity is reflected in the nature of the events held here. Out of the total number of events hosted, over 1,000 were congresses and conventions, attracting over 665,000 delegates to the venue.

In terms of international events, the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) held its first-ever meeting outside of Africa here. Other events held at the venue included the 54th NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the 3rd Global Congress of Victims of Terrorism, the 15th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Local and Regional Government, the European Framework Programmes and the Conference on the Mediterranean Solar Plan.

A significant part of the work of the VCC is focused on hosting national and international scientific and medical events, organised by leading associations and organisations. Notable events include: the 7th Global 5G Event; European Conference on Networks and Communications EuCNC; European Congress of the European Headache Federation, etc. The centre is also an ideal venue for private organisations to hold their conventions, corporate meetings or new product launches, whether they are multinationals in the pharmaceutical sector such as Roche, Almirall or Astra Zeneca; technology companies such as Microsoft, Vodafone, Sony or Electrolux; or the most cutting-edge companies from the automotive industry such as Mercedes Benz, Audi and BMW.

How has the VCC contributed to the growth and development of València as a conference and convention destination?

València is currently well-positioned in terms of conferences. Its good quality-to-price ratio, cuisine, climate, accommodation, transport connections, and specialised infrastructure, such as the VCC, boasting cutting-edge technology and national and international competitiveness, are crucial factors in maintaining the city’s appeal for hosting events and enhancing brand recognition.

The VCC’s activity has generated more than 2.4 million overnight stays in Valencia, providing a great boost to the local economy and making the city an important destination for international importance congresses. Valencia is currently ranked 28th in Europe and 44th in the world by the International Congress and Convention Association.

What are some of the new and innovative ways that you are working to attract and retain meetings and events?

The VCC stands out for its firm commitment to technology, innovation, and sustainability. This allows it to turn every event into a unique experience and align its activity with the SDGs.

Last year’s investments (€3.6 million) improved the existing facilities, allowing us to continue to contribute to Valencia’s positioning as a leading destination in the congress and convention sector. This includes the installation of solar panels for the building’s own energy needs, LED lighting that will light 90% of the building with this technology, and the installation of chargers for electric vehicles in the car park.

With the same objective, some areas will be upgraded, and we will have better audiovisual equipment, including more powerful projectors and screens with larger surfaces in the auditoriums.

A digital twin of the building is also planned. This smart model will not only allow for more efficient maintenance and control of the facilities, but will also provide more accurate and interactive proposals for the organisers, who will be able to digitally recreate different set-ups for their events.

València is a vibrant and dynamic city. How do you plan to continue promoting the VCC as a premier destination to attract international events and conferences to Spain?

Achieving a state-of-the-art building in order to be at the forefront of technology and maintaining our commitment to society will continue to be the cornerstones of our strategy. Cutting-edge infrastructures undoubtedly require a team that is prepared – our human capital is one of the most important assets of our venue. The trust our customers place in us is the result of our team’s involvement and dedication. Our staff are constantly learning, and acquiring knowledge and skills that helps them to give their best at all times.

What are your hopes and dreams for the Palacio de Congresos in the next 25 years?

At the VCC, we have set ourselves a challenge: to achieve a greater awareness of sustainability and, at the same time, to enrich the experience of those attending events, while having a positive social impact on our community. In addition to sharing our enthusiasm for promoting healthy lifestyles and incorporating sustainable behavioural habits into our daily lives, we lead by example to serve as an inspirational model for the sector.

In addition, technology and innovation applied to the tourism sector are generating structural changes that are shaping a new business environment. We aim to offer solutions to remain competitive and attract domestic and international events in order to be a hub for national and international congresses in Valencia.

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Supported by the Union of International Associations (UIA), the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) and the Interel Group, the global public affairs and association management consultancy, Headquarters Magazines serve the needs of international associations organising worldwide congresses.