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Putting Budapest on the map for prestigious events

Interview with Tibor Lak, Manager and Finance Manager at Papp László Budapest Sportaréna

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European Business: Mr. Lak, What does the BudapestAréna offer clients, and what kind of events are held there?

Tibor Lak: It is a multi-functional facility; many different configurations are possible. With a full-house capacity of 12,500 people, the arena can easily be sectioned off so that smaller areas can be utilized, for example for conferences for 1,200 participants.

Around 60% of our events are music concerts. International artists such as Rod Stewart, Andrea Bocelli, Depeche Mode, Metallica and Enrique Iglesias have performed here this year, as have Hungarian singers Fonográf, Edda, Korál and Kowalsky meg a Vega.

Sports events generate 20% of our event days, while exhibitions, trade fairs, conferences, and company events such as meetings and training seminars make up the remainder.

European Business: Budapesti Sportcsarnok Üzemeltető Kft took over the management of the arena in 2006, and a new management team took over the operation of the company in 2014. What strategies has the new management team adopted, and how has this translated into a successful business?

Tibor Lak: Our goal is, of course, to generate income. We focus heavily on customer satisfaction and building constructive relationships to enhance profits for both us and our clients. We have also implemented a new rental fee structure where promoters can choose a fixed fee structure instead of a commission-based fee. Of course, in this case, they have a higher risk, but on the other hand, they have the chance to make more profit at the end.

I am pretty sure that, among several other factors, this approach helped us to win many new clients. In 2013, there were around 75 event days with 500,000 visitors here; while by the end of 2018 we will have held 140 events with over 750,000 visitors, based on our forecast.

The largest proportion of our income is generated by rental contracts for events, but the VIP area with its 20 boxes and the SKY Bar and restaurant also represent an important and significant revenue stream.

European Business: Digitalization has also played an important role in your success, hasn't it?

Tibor Lak: Yes, we have implemented advanced digital solutions which have improved efficiency and the visitor experience. For our buffets, where we serve up to 12,500 guests via 60 cashiers, we now have a cashless payment system where visitors pay using either a credit card or a pre-paid cash card, which speeds up the process massively.

We have developed an app where visitors can pre-pay parking, which reduces traffic congestion. Guests can also use the app to pre-order food such as beer and popcorn, and it can also guide people around the arena and to their seats. We plan to launch other new functions in the future.

European Business: What do you see as the key goals for the BudapestAréna for the future, and what are the main challenges?

Tibor Lak: Our focus is on our guests. The key to success for the arena is that we offer a complete experience, encompassing not only the concert or event, but ensuring visitors enjoy the all-round arena experience - good food is a big part of this. Of course we face many challenges, for example the forged ticket market is a big problem.

Although people are advised to buy only from official sources, there are still many forged tickets out there. Nevertheless, it's a great feeling to see the fruits of our work in the form of people's enjoyment at our concerts – that is true success. Our schedule for 2019 is already full.