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ISSUE 65 / CONFERENCE & MEETINGS WORLD / 55Advertising FeatureSpot News From St. PetersburgTHE EXPOFORUM CONVENTION AND EXHIBITION CENTRE, TO BE BUILT IN ST PETERSBURG BY THE END OF 2013.IT WILL BE ONE OF THE LARGEST IN EUROPE. GENERAL DIRECTOR, ANATOLY ERKULOV, TELLS CMW ABOUT IT.Below: ExpoForum Convention and Exhibition Centre. St.Petersburg, RussiaIInformation: www.expoforum.run August LenSpetsSMU was chosen as general contractor for the project. This company is part of a larger Russian construction company, Etalon. What was the main criterion for selecting a general contractor?We choose a general contractor withgreat care because the contract is verylarge not only for St. Petersburg butalso for the Russian market. The cost ofthe contract with LenSpetsSMU is 14billion rubles, which is almost 350million euros. The project is complicated, first of all with itsmulti-functionality. During the firstphase all sites of the convention andexhibition complex will be built, exceptfor three of the six exhibition halls.Thus, one of the main criteria forselection of a contractor was havingexperience with complex projects. Thesecond criteria is the presence of thecontractor's own industrial base. Sincethere will be an enormous amount ofconstruction and tight deadlines, thecontractor should not depend on theproduction plans and capabilities ofthird parties. The remaining criteriawere standard for all contractingcompanies: high quality and timelinessof implementation.When does construction begin?What stages of the project havealready been completed?Now we look forward to obtaining theconclusion of state construction experts,and immediately after that we can startwork. The general contractor ispreparing the construction site: layingtemporary roads, setting up theconstruction town, and driving the firsttest piles. As soon as we get permissionto build, we will work virtually aroundthe clock. In addition, we have alreadycleared the area of the old utilitiesinfrastructure, and we have built andconnected the new utilities infrastructure.How are you building relationshipswith the international community ofthe congress and exhibition sector?Over the past year and a half we becamemembers of key congress and exhibitionassociations: the InternationalAssociation of Congress Centres (AIPC); the International Congress andConvention Association (ICCA); theGlobal Association of ExhibitionIndustry (UFI); and the ChinaAssociation of Exhibition Centres(CAEC). We are interested in exchanging information and experiencewith our foreign colleagues, and thecloser to the opening of the complex, themore we will conduct this work.And who will manage the congressand exhibition complex once it isbuilt and open?In September we signed a contract withHilton Worldwide for management oftwo hotels in the convention centre. Onehotel will be opened under the brand name Hilton Hotels & Resorts; the second will be under the brand Hampton by Hilton. Thus, we will have a wide choice of accommodation for visitors to the complex. Though they belong to different market segments, service quality will match the operator's world-renowned reputation. For the management of the congress and exhibition part, we made a different decision. We just began the process of creating our own operating company. As you know, in 2010 our shareholders became the owners of Lenexpo ExpoForum JSC will now form a single team of employees from both ExpoForum and Lenexpo. This process will last approximately until the end of 2011. The company will organise and conduct activities up until 2013 on the territory of Lenexpo, and then move to the new complex when it opens.What do you think is your maincompetitive advantage comparedwith other European congress andexhibition centres?We tried to explore and take intoaccount the experience of the leadingEuropean congress and exhibitioncentres, in order to make ourcomplex perfect in terms ofspace-planning decisions, and interms of equipment and quality ofservices. Still, destination is one ofthe main competitive factors. Thenew convention and exhibitioncentre will be located in one of themost beautiful cities in the world,remaining almost unchanged since itwas built in the 18th-19th centuries.St Petersburg is essentially acity-museum, and this will attractprofessional and scientific events in anew convenient and modern venue

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