GIBTM 2014 has opened its doors, with the eighth edition of the industry showcase set to deliver its most content-rich programme to date, boosted by the region’s flourishing meetings calendar and vibrant business travel sector.
This year’s event, which takes place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) until Wednesday 26th March, will see local, regional and international suppliers and buyers meet face-to-face with over 8,000 appointments and take part in an expanded line-up of interactive seminars and panel sessions.
Headlining the three-day programme is the eagerly anticipated release of the inaugural Middle East Buyers Report on the afternoon of day two, which surveyed planners from across the region to gain direct insight into their purchasing habits and the decision-making process.
“The results of this first-of-its-kind survey will be an invaluable resource for destinations, hotels and venues looking to increase their competitiveness and gain market share, and is indicative of GIBTM’s commitment to foster knowledge and share expertise in order to take the industry to the next level and understand the traits and mindsets of Middle Eastern buyers,” said Lois Hall, Exhibition Manager, GIBTM.
“The findings reveal not only the preferences of Middle East-based meeting planners in terms of the types of destinations and venues that they choose for their events, but also how they wish to interact with the sales and marketing professionals that are competing to host those events,” said report author, Rob Davidson, Senior Lecturer in Events Management at the University of Greenwich, London.
A sneak peek at the findings reveals that the UAE is the leading destination 66% of meeting planners reporting having held meetings there in the last two years, with Dubai the most popular location.
Outside of the region, planners also said that they had selected European destinations for their events with France, Spain, Austria, Italy and Turkey, respectively, the most popular countries. Almost 50% of respondents has also (held events in Asian countries, with Malaysia, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka the top three ranked destinations.Notably, North America also made the list, favoured by 30% of surveyed planners.
“The report found that 97.5% of respondents opt for hotels in terms of venue preference, and this sends out a clear message to properties of the need to invest in state-of-the-art facilities, technology and a focus on tailoring the offering to meet the client brief in order to secure future business from this crucial market segment,” noted Hall.
“Important features when considering a destination were led by issues of safety and security of a destination plus ease of access, with good transportation infrastructure and air connectivity integral elements in the decision-making process, are also what keeps countries like the UAE as front-runners in the race to capture increased market share,” added Davidson.
This ground-breaking research is part of the enhanced GIBTM Knowledge programme, sponsored by Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) and supported by the world’s leading industry associations, ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association, SITE (Society of Incentive Travel Executives), MPI (Meetings Professional International).
This year, we welcome over 250 regional and international Hosted Buyers from 36 countries who will meet with up to 300 exhibitors from 35 destinations from around the world. Of which 74 are brand new to the show, with companies from Kazakhstan, Russia, Morocco, South Africa and South Korea making their debuts, the highest level since the show’s inception. The European Pavilion which returns due to popular demand, welcomes 25% more exhibitors, again the highest level in the shows history.
“Of course, with GIBTM providing the region’s premier platform for meetings industry interaction, networking events are also top priority, with highlights at the 2014 show including the Hosted Buyer Reception at the brand new Rosewood Abu Dhabi Hotel from 6pm on Monday 24th March and the official GIBTM Networking Reception at Yas Marina Circuit from 6pm on Tuesday 25th March, which is promising to be a spectacular evening with a few surprises in store!” said Lois Hall, Exhibition Manager, GIBTM.
The newly launched Business Travel @GIBTM focus, will feature a dedicated panel discussion that will take place on Tuesday morning, offering unique insight into this commercially vital sector, where the latest trends in regional business travel will be discussed in an interactive forum.” said Hall.
Specialist exhibitors from leading regional business travel suppliers such as Kanoo Travel, Al Shamel Travel and Musafir.com will showcase their services on the show floor in the Business Travel Zone, joining 62 other business travel related exhibitors this year. Complementing the Business travel @GIBTM initiative, will be a networking lunch sponsored by the Hyatt Capital Gate hotel. Other new exhibition areas include the Sourceme Pavilion, developed in partnership with Nicholas Publishing International (NPI), which will showcase the services of the region’s leading event service suppliers.