China National Convention Center Makes Its Mark at Home and Abroad

By staff reporter SUN LI

THE China National Convention Center (CNCC), a stately edifice covering 530,000 square meters, towers over Beijing’s northern horizon, along with landmarks like the Bird’s Nest, or Beijing National Stadium. Having served as a competition spot for fencing and for the shooting and fencing events in the modern pentathlon in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the CNCC underwent a year-long retrofit that transformed the sports facility into a conference venue. Since completion of renovations in November 2009, the CNCC has hosted a number of high-profile international events, underlining its prestige domestically and globally in the convention and exhibition industry.


Over the six-year period that ended in October 2015, the facility provided venues for 4,871 conferences and 458 exhibitions, amounting to 2.5 events daily. Many, such as the China Beijing International Fair for Trade in Services, the 2014 APEC Summit, the Sixth Xiangshan Forum (focusing on international security and defense issues sponsored by the China Society of Military Science), and the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) 2015, wielded considerable international influence.


As during the Beijing Olympic Games, the center continues to present a window on present-day China and a bridge between the country and the rest of the world.



 General Manager Liu Haiying.

High Efficiency


In 2010 the CNCC disproved the so-called no-profits curse associated with the first year of operation. It has since gone from strength to strength.


On May 28, 2012 the First China Beijing International Fair for Trade in Services opened at the center on a 50,000-square-meter site, just 48 hours after another large-scale exhibition had concluded there. By the time then Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong inspected the venue on the evening of May 27, all arrangements for the Beijing Fair had been finalized. “This signifies not only ‘Beijing Speed’ but also ‘Beijing Quality,’” Mayor Guo commented.  


High efficiency is what draws the center’s clients. For the 2013 Beijing International Film Festival, within the space of one hour, during which normal business was suspended, the CNCC café was transformed into a lounge. During the 2014 APEC Summit the CNCC attended to the needs of the largest number of participants, and housed 210 meetings and other activities over six days. This involved serving 165 meals for approximately 91,000 person-times. The professional, attentive and efficient staff prepared the 11,000-square-meter dining space for a fresh banquet for 10,000 or more guests every four hours and completed the preparation within an hour. They also ensured that check-ins for large delegations took no longer than 20 minutes. This swift efficiency evoked admiration and praise from the CNCC’s industry peers.


These feats can be accredited to good cohesion and cooperation by a team that takes pride in its professional excellence. The center has recruited a contingent of professionals with rich experience in the industry who incorporate the latest concepts into the facility’s daily operations. The management also pays close attention to the nitty-gritty of each step of its services. It has accordingly formulated around 1,000 meticulous standards whereby its staffers can appropriately respond to any scenario within the shortest possible time frame.


Accelerated Innovation


Innovation has featured prominently in the center’s development strategy. “Only by remaining open to innovation can we promote progress in the industry and add steam to its continued development,” General Manager Liu Haiying said.


The center believes that the future of convention and exhibition facilities lies in better alignment of professional services with the theme of any particular event. This calls for further segmentation of the market and greater diversification of services.


The China National Convention Center has made impressive endeavors in this regard. For the journalists’ reception during the Third Beijing International Film Festival, for example, it installed an actual-size antique film camera made of chocolate accompanied by eatables fashioned to resemble ciné-film. At the 2015 China Fit Convention and Trade Show the venue design resembled a modern gym. And a carnival deco and ambience set the scene for the China Children and Women Industry Expo. Clients and visitors equally appreciate this talent for accommodation and adaptation.


In 2011 the center and Air China signed an agreement on strategic cooperation that entailed joint exploration of the international convention and exhibition market, the first of such partnerships. The next year the center established its own convention and exhibition section, so expanding its bailiwick from leasing venues to the higher end of the business chain. It was in this new capacity that the CNCC sponsored the Fifth China Children and Women Industry Expo, and participated in the 64th International Astronautical Congress as a professional conference organizer (PCO).


Dining service is a key component but often the weakest link in the services of convention centers. The China National Convention Center, however, has carved out a niche in this respect through its outstanding capacity and competitiveness.


During the six-day APEC Summit service the center regaled delegates with dainties catering to the tastes of different regions, and meanwhile highlighted Chinese, in particular Beijing, cuisine. Interspersed with international specialties were indigenous delights like spicy Dandan noodles, succulent Xiaolongbao (steamed meat-stuffed buns), delectable Niangao (New Year cake, made of glutinous rice) and imperial Qing favorites. The center’s chefs also added an artistic touch by creating 22 groups of food sculptures, including terra cotta warrior candy sculptures, phoenixes and birds carved out of fruits and vegetables, and the Eight Immortals (figures in Chinese mythology) modeled in flour. 


Brand Building


Building a strong brand and pinpointing an appropriate niche in today’s market are the constant pursuits of the China National Convention Center. In 2013 it spearheaded formulation of the Operational Service Regulations of Exhibition Center, and the Operational Service Regulations of Exhibition Center, both of which were sanctioned by relevant authorities. It later compiled the Classification and Terminology of Meetings, which became the first national standard for the convention industry.


At its 2014 congress, the UFI (Global Association of the Exhibition Industry) elected CNCC General Manager Liu Haiying as one of seven board directors of the Asia-Pacific region, so enhancing the center’s standing in the sector and giving it and its Chinese peers more say globally. 


An arm of the Beijing North Star Industrial Group, the CNCC proactively responds to the group’s management contracting plan. August 2013 saw the dispatch of its first team to help with management of the Zhuhai International Convention & Exhibition Center, which opened in October 2014. It later signed management contracts with Beijing Yanqi Lake International Convention & Exhibition Center, Nanchang Greenland Expo Center, Ningxia International Hall in Yinchuan, and Hangzhou Olympic and International Expo Center.


The excellence of its services, evident in the center’s array of achievements, innovative spirit, and down-to-earth attitude, has taken the CNCC to the forefront of China’s convention and exhibition industry. It is now making confident moves towards the international market.