VisitBritain has today announced it will debut its largest annual international industry event, ExploreGB, in late February 2015. The flagship event will replace Hosted Buyers Marketplace (HBM) which VisitBritain held in partnership for the last three years.
ExploreGB will debut in London next year, providing British tourism suppliers and destinations with the invaluable opportunity to meet and do business with up to 250 international travel buyers from over 31 countries. UKinbound, the tourism trade association, will be exclusively partnering with VisitBritain to promote the event through its own channels and platforms.
Whilst HBM has seen huge achievements over three consecutive years, VisitBritain has identified the potential to expand the event, to an extent that cannot be undertaken in its current form. Creating ExploreGB also affords VisitBritain the opportunity to align trade activity with its 2020 product and distribution strategies. This year HBM welcomed 220 travel trade buyers from 31 countries, with over 8,500 pre-scheduled business appointments. VisitBritain’s aim is to increase delegate attendance year on year to reach over 500 buyers - and an equal number of Great British product suppliers - by 2020. A key change implemented to achieve this growth will be making the event financially accessible for smaller tourism businesses and make sure our buyers are fully hosted.
A direct outcome of ExploreGB will be showcasing Britain to the largest possible audience of international buyers, resulting in additional itineraries and brochure pages. The event’s ultimate goal is additional visitors to Britain, assisting towards VisitBritain’s ‘2020 Tourism Strategy’ of welcoming 40 million international visitors a year by 2020.
The structure of the event will still consist of a central workshop but as of next year this will be extended to cover two days rather than one, in order to increase the number of pre-scheduled 1-2-1 appointments between delegates. A brand new seminar programme will also be introduced, accessible for all delegates and covering a variety of useful topics, from visa regulations to accommodation standards.
The event will be followed by large-scale familiarisation trips around Britain for the international delegates. Familiarisation trips are the best way of showcasing the Great British product to buyers from across the world. ExploreGB’s trips will develop understanding of the nations and regions of Britain and offer a wider choice of itineraries for buyers.
Keith Beecham, Overseas Director at VisitBritain commented: “Our goal is to make sure ExploreGB becomes the world’s largest and most influential business-to-business tourism event promoting a single destination. The only way we could do this was by realigning our activity to make sure it sat within our long-term 2020 growth strategy. We’re now calling for more partners and sponsors to make ExploreGB the best showcase for Britain possible.”
Deirdre Wells, Chief Executive at UKinbound added: “We’re delighted to support and be part of this significant event on the B2B tourism calendar. Working exclusively with VisitBritain on ExploreGB will mean we can focus our attention on generating as much new business for Britain as possible over the next decade, to align with the 2020 Tourism Strategy.”
ExploreGB is due to take place in London in its first year and will then alternate annually between London and other regions within Britain.