Share the Olympic Wealth, Make Good Use of the Venues after the Games and Promote the Urban Development
--- Changing from an Olympic venue to a world-class convention center
Former Chairman of Beijing North Star Industrial Group
Ladies and gentlemen:
I’m Sha Wanquan, former chairman of Beijing North Star Industrial Group. I participated in the venue construction before the Beijing Olympic Games, in the reception services during the games period and in the venue transformation and operation after the games. Now I’d like to share with you some of my observations.
The China National Convention Center was built and sponsored by Beijing North Star Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Beijing North Star Industrial Group. It is located in the center of Beijing Olympic Green, adjacent to the National Stadium (the Bird's Nest). It has the total land area of approximately 12.22 hectares and the total floor area of approximately 530,000 square meters. In particular, the main part of China National Convention Center has the floor area of 270,000 square meters, including the specialized exhibition areas, conference halls and meeting rooms; and the supporting facilities have the floor area of about 260,000 square meters, including two hotels, two office buildings and the commercial areas.
The construction started in December 2004. I was then Chairman of Beijing North Star Industrial Group, and was appointed as Director General of China National Convention Center Main Part and Supporting Facilities Project for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. After its completion, the Center was used as competition and non-competition venues during the games period, including the Fencing Hall, the International Broadcasting Center (IBC) and the Main Press Center (MPC). To be specific, the 24,000-square-meter exhibition hall and underground space on the first floor of China National Convention Center’s main part functioned as the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The 6400-square-meter conference hall on the fourth floor of the main part served as the venue for the fencing preliminaries, playoffs and finals as well as the fencing and shooting competitions of modern pentathlon. The ancillary office building was used as the Main Press Center (MPC). And the ancillary hotels --- InterContinental Beijing Beichen and CNCC Grand Hotel became contracted hotels for the registered media and reporters of the Olympic Games. During the Paralympic Games, the 4800-square-meter banquet hall on the first floor of the main part was used as the venue for wheelchair fencing and boccia events.
As director of the MPC and IBC operation team, I together with all the other team members worked really hard and successfully accomplished all the accommodation and reception tasks.
The IBC and the MPC received a total of more than 28,000 Chinese and foreign reporters during the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games. The IBC set a new record in the Olympic history with over 6000 hours of uninterrupted broadcast and the total number of 4.7 billion viewers. The two contracted hotels, InterContinental Beijing Beichen and CNCC Grand Hotel, received more than 30 VIP guests as well as reporters from over 88 media agencies.
After fulfillment of the Olympic service and reception tasks, we went on to carry out the post-games transformation of China National Convention Center according to the philosophy of “sharing the Olympic wealth, making good use of the venues after the games, and promoting the urban development". Since its successful conversion into a large convention and exhibition center, China National Convention Center has accommodated one after another international conference or exhibition, making significant contributions to Beijing's economic development, influences, cultural exchange, and urban development.
I. Changing from an Olympic Venue to a Large Convention Center
After the Olympic Games, we spent a year transforming the competition and non-competition venues into a large-scale convention and exhibition center characterized by rational design, complete functions, well-developed supporting facilities and excellent services.
The IBC was made into an exhibition hall with the interior clear height of 10 meters and a total area of 35,000 square meters that can be divided into four specialized exhibition pavilions. The Fencing Hall was transformed into a conference hall that can hold 6,000 people. It is the largest and most professional venue for business meetings in Beijing. The venue for wheelchair fencing and boccia during the Paralympic Games was converted into a banquet hall with the interior clear height of 10 meters and a total area of 4,860 square meters having a seating capacity of 3,500 people. It is the largest commercial banquet hall in Beijing. The MPC became an ultra-5A high-end commercial office building. InterContinental Beijing Beichen and CNCC Grand Hotel were upgraded to a five-star luxury business hotel and a four-star luxury hotel respectively. The Press Conference Hall for the Olympic Games was converted into the luxurious banquet hall of InterContinental Beijing Beichen.
When the transformation was finished, China National Convention Center became a convention, exhibition, restaurant, hotel and office complex with complete functions. It has nearly 100 conference halls and meeting rooms of different sizes and 35,000 square meters of specialized exhibition halls. The two hotels have a total of 757 rooms, and the office building has the business area of 160,000 square meters. The aforesaid facilities can accommodate 20,000 people for convention, 10,000 people for dinner and 10,000 people for office use at the same time.
1. Improve professional functions
China National Convention Center improved and strengthened the professional exhibition services by drawing upon the experience of world-class large convention and exhibition centers and luxury hotels. Everything was meticulously designed, from the ingenious placement of hanging points to the optimal layout of meeting rooms, from the installation of specialized facilities such as simultaneous interpretation equipment and lighting and sound equipment to the upgrading of logistics, transportation and warehousing. Meanwhile, the catering services were particularly enhanced. The kitchen was expanded from the original 2000 square meters to 5500 square meters, becoming China's largest kitchen. At present, China National Convention Center ranks No.1 in the industry in terms of catering capacity. Catering has become its most competitive business, bringing in 30% of its total revenue. In addition, the Center has inherited the concept of green Olympics and adopted low-carbon solutions in rainwater harvesting, natural ventilation, power supply and lighting, central vacuum, kitchen waste collection and other aspects so as to achieve the environmental targets.
2. Develop the operation team
Beijing North Star Industrial Group formed an operation team for the opening of China National Convention Center in June 2007 and endowed it with two functions, to ensure the reception services during the games period and to prepare for the post-games use of the venue. The operation team got familiar with the facilities, provided high-standard services for the Olympic Games, and cultivated good team spirit. After the Olympic Games, they were able to quickly adapt to their new role and plunged into the post-games transformation and preliminary marketing campaign so that China National Conference Center successfully served the First World Mind Sports Games, the FISM World Championships of Magic 2009 and other international events while still in the preparation stage.
II. The National Convention Center Leads the Exhibition Industry
Thanks to its Olympic heritage, advanced hardware facilities, excellent geological location, excellent team tempered by the Olympic Games, and professional operating philosophy, China National Convention Centre made a high-profile debut and quickly became a leader in the Chinese exhibition industry. 2010 was the first full business year for the Center. It managed to make a profit in this first year, creating a precedent for the profitability of large convention centers. From its opening on November 1, 2009 to June 30, 2012, China National Convention Center served a total of 1,924 conferences and 174 exhibitions. 13% of the conferences were large international events with more than 1,000 attendees. The exhibition hall rental rate of over 60% put it among the best performers in China. The long-term booking is also inspiring. The list of international conferences has extended as far as 2020. InterContinental Beijing Beichen and CNCC Grand Hotel are doing better than other same-level hotels in terms of the average occupancy rate. China National Convention Center has made the world-class list and become the first brand of the Chinese convention and exhibition industry.
China National Convention Center is the first choice for large-scale high-end international conferences and exhibitions. The World Confucius Institute Conference and Exhibition, World Music Education Conference, TechEd, the Intel Developers Conference and the Asian Chemical Technology Exhibition attracted tens of thousands of international attendees and exhibitors. The 2010 World Congress of Cardiology had 10,245 registered attendees. In November 2011, the world software giant SAP-sponsored China SAPPHIRE NOW and TechEd was successfully held at the Center. The event had over 15,000 people registered attendees. In April 23, 2012, a grand opening ceremony was held at China National Convention Center for Beijing International Film Festival. The first China (Beijing) International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) was successfully staged at the Center from May 28 to June 1, 2012. The Fair was attended by more than 4,000 exhibitors and covered by over 700 reporters. It attracted a total of more than 100,000 person times of visitors, had 458 concluded deals and achieved the turnover of USD 60.11 billion, including 11.2 billion dollars for international trade in services. The success of CIFTIS will lend a strong impetus to the development of the trade in services in Beijing as well as in China.
III. China National Convention Center Helps Build Beijing into a World Center of Exhibitions and a World City with Chinese Characteristics
China National Convention Center is one of the important platforms to fuel the economic development in Beijing. International experience indicates that the convention and exhibition industry can provide a push factor of 1:9 and boost other industries, benefiting tourism, hotel, transportation, shopping, catering and other sectors.
The Center has become one of the "spokesmen" of China in the international convention and exhibition industry. According to the ICCA statistics, Beijing ranked 10 among world cities in terms ICCA conferences in 2011. The conferences held at China National Convention Center accounted for 14.4% of the total held in Beijing, No.1 among all convention venues in the city. On December 5, 2011, China National Convention Center signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Air China, which was the world’s first strategic cooperation agreement signed between a conference center and an airline company. The two parties will make full use of their advantages, vigorously advertise Beijing as a world-renowned destination for conventions and exhibitions, and work together to solicit international conferences and exhibitions for Beijing.
The reception services of China National Convention Center during the games period and its post-games operation and utilization have been highly recognized by the top government officials of Beijing. With their generous support, the Center is now ready to expand the areas for exhibitions and conferences in order to meet the needs of CIFTIS and other large-scale exhibitions and make greater contributions to Beijing's economic development.
IV. Some Observations on the Transformation of China National Convention Center
1. The building functions ensure the needs of competitions during the games period and facilitate the post-games utilization for exhibitions, conferences, hotels and other forms of business.
2. Coordinated design takes into account the venue’s functions during the games period and after the games so as to minimize the costs and time for post-games transformation.
3. Do the preliminary market research, predict the post-games demand and set aside space for the needs of future operation.
4. The operation team should be involved in the venue operation during the games, become part of the high-standard services for the Olympic Games and get familiar with the venue facilities and functions. In this way, the team can quick adapt to its new role after the games and plunge into the post-games operation. It will also help carry on the Olympic spirit
Ladies and gentlemen, that is what we did in the Olympic venue construction, the supply of reception services during the games period and the post-games transformation and operation. We will continue adhering to philosophy of “sharing the Olympic wealth, making good use of the venues after the games, and promoting the urban development", and make greater contributions to the Olympic movement and Beijing's economic development and urban construction!