Simon Lehmann has been in the position of the President of Phocuswright Inc in New York USA since November 1st 2016. Phocuswright is the leading global travel research authority and organizer of the world’s largest on-line travel conferences.
Spontaneously, what comes in your mind when thinking about the Czech and Slovak Republics?
I go back many years with the Czech Republic and we had an office in Brno, which I frequently visited. Coming from the airline and tourism industry I had many great experiences in Prague and Bratislava with the Czech Airline as well. Of course, as a Swiss national, ice-hockey does not go unnoticed either. I have attended a match during the playoff in Liberec which was spectacular. But at the end of the day, I see Prague as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, be it at the Christmas market or during a warm evening in summer.
Does your company have any business activities in the Czech and Slovak Republics?
Indirectly we do, since we are interested in the global online travel start-up community and therefore follow the space globally. We embrace innovation and see that as a key driver also for this region. Great ideas are being developed with a lot of enthusiasm and passion.
Do you plan to expand your business activities in these markets?
Since we are also organizing the world’s largest online travel conference in the USA and Europe, we would love to welcome more attendance from the region and build our relationships accordingly. We see a lot of opportunities, and the appetite for new inputs is always there.
What are in your opinion the biggest advantages of the Czech and Slovak Republics as a market place?
I have set up a call center in Prague a few years back and I was amazed by the young and dedicated talent we found. I see it as a very attractive market where great universities are bringing great talent to the workforce. The people are willing to learn, speak a number of languages and are open to new challenges. The flexibility and the supporting HR laws make it very attractive.
And the disadvantages?
Well that is a tough question since every country or region has its disadvantages but I guess the large dependence on the EU and being in the middle of the sandwich between Russia and the EU is not an easy situation and could impact the potential for growth. Foreign debt needs to be closely watched in order not to overheat.
What should the countries actively foster to become more known in the business world?
I guess the international conference business brings the opportunity to showcase the country to the world. Supporting companies to setup business in the regions with tax benefits and employment support is an additional opportunity. Working closely together with academia and make sure the talents are noted and attached by the business community.