Is it easy to organise events in Portugal?


Expo ‘98, held in Lisbon, was probably the turning point in the events sector in Portugal. This mega organisation demonstrated all the country’s capabilities in this area.

There were several months of daily events that mobilised the city and were a school for many of today’s events professionals. This almost national goal of hosting and organising events was awarded top marks for Euro 2004, recognised as one of the best European Football Championships ever held. Mega events add up over the years, with remarkable success. The next will be in June, when Lisbon hosts the 2013 Rotary International Convention. But it’s the country’s consistency in organising medium and smaller events that places Portugal among the European and World tops.

The professionalism of the providers, the quality of the venues, the ease of access and the intangible aspects – not least the good weather to boot – are just some of the advantages of Portugal as a destination mentioned by international clients who have already held their events here. Pekka Saranpää was involved in organising the IUFRO Conference, held in Estoril in July 2012. His opinion about the region could not be better. “For an international conference Lisbon/ Estoril was easy to access for most of the participants”, he said, and also pointed out the quality of the venue, the variety in terms of choice, and reasonable prices as positive aspects. He also highlighted the professionalism of the PCO (Professional Congress Organiser). 

“We had wonderful experiences in Lisbon”, confirms Hildegard Koch, in charge of a Wella Intercosmetic event held at the Pestana Palace in 2008. The interviewee highlights the “fine” weather, considering that the event took place in autumn, and the quality of the hotel and the people who worked there, as well as that of all other providers, including taxi and bus drivers. “For us it was easy to organise the event since the agency was really great ... helping us in every subject”. “Wonderful people,” adds Koch.

Arabelle Fourgo went through more than one experience in Portugal. She was in Lisbon for the UEIL Annual Congress held in October 2012. This is the most important event in the calendar of the European lubricants industry. And she was also involved in organising an event in Porto. “On both occasions the weather was great, creating a certain ‘holiday’ atmosphere among our participants. And I think that’s an important part of the success of our events”, Ms Fourgo points out. She admits she had no problem in organising these events, highlighting the support of the local providers. However, she regrets that when working with a DMC VAT is not refundable.

The annual ECBHM meeting was held in July last year in Lisbon. Koos Verhoeff was one of the personalities of one of the satellite events. “It was a very good experience to have an event in Portugal. The facilities were very good and Lisbon is a very nice city with a good atmosphere”. The support we have had from local providers is assessed as “perfect” by Koos Verhoeff.


Jeroen Janssens was involved in the organisation of a congress in Porto, Resuscitation 2010. The event was “excellent”, but not everyone found it easy to reach the destination, since the number of flights is more limited. Still, Mr Janssens has no doubts: “I could recommend all societies to organise a congress in Porto”. For Christian Seidenstuecker, of the Joke Event, “Portugal offers a lot of different destinations, from the modern city of Lisbon to breathtaking seaside with great roads for test drives. There is tradition and innovation close to each other. The weather conditions are quite Also ideal, especially for car launches with test drives”. He finds that the country has good infrastructure and various interesting venues for events, over and above the historical sites. And he evaluates the support of the local providers as follows: “The professional level is high and has improved significantly over the last decade”. 

“Today I cannot think of Lisbon without thinking of Estoril”

Estoril is a favourite destination for Ross MacLennan, of Wild Highlander, a company that in the past five years has organised several events in Portugal. “We feel that Lisbon has improved a lot since the rehabilitation of the coastal zone. To work, especially in Lisbon, it is important to have a good contact, one who can open doors for us, who can find the most original alternatives, who can give us honest advice”, said Mr MacLennan, stressing that this is a mandatory requirement for success. The client points out that it is important to realise that there are three different destinations: Lisbon, Porto and the South. “They are different and provide different opportunities. My favourite destination of all is Lisbon, or rather Estoril is my favourite destination”, says Ross MacLennan. “Today I cannot think of Lisbon without thinking of Estoril. It’s near the airport and there’s the sea front that contrasts interestingly with the city centre”. For the head of Wild Highlander, the best of working in Portugal is “having the chance to be able to go to Santini’s and eat a wonderful ice cream” (laughter). The worst is the traffic.


“I’m tempted to say that we get the quality of providers we deserve. If we do not establish the right relationships or do not invest time, we run the risk of ending up with the wrong provider”, Ross admits.

He seems to have found the right DMC in Portugal. “With the agency with which I work I am sure that the bus is on time where I need it. And it is worth paying to have this attention to detail”.

“Five minutes after arriving I was already enchanted”

Magdalena Szczypierowska, executive director of the incentives department of the MWM Group, based in Warsaw, is in love with Portugal. She even aims to move here soon. She may not, therefore, be the most neutral of observers, but even so this Polish vision of the country is still of interest.

“The first time I went to Portugal I visited Madeira and I fell in love... with the people, the food, the landscapes, the traditions”. The next destination was mainland Portugal, Lisbon. “Five minutes after arriving I was already enchanted”, she admits, smiling. And it is this passion for the country that makes her want to get to know it more and more. She’s even learning Portuguese.

The best thing about working in Portugal, she asserts, is the readiness of the partners to solve problems. Magdalena also mentions the diversity of the country and of the offer. In terms of prices, she has no doubt that, in comparison with Spain, Portugal is a little more expensive, but the quality is also better, “even though Spain is a great destination for incentives”.

One thing is sure, Portugal may not be a perfect destination, but it doesn’t leave clients indifferent.