This year’s Gulf Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition (www.gibtm.com) saw exhibitors and buyers universally describing the show as business-focused, highly successful and the best in its six year history. High-quality appointments, enhanced show features and the new show format made this year’s edition outstanding.
The rise in high-quality senior buyers at GIBTM 2012, especially from the Middle East and Asia, as well as a 100 percent increase in buyers from Saudi Arabia compared to last year, greatly contributed to exhibitor satisfaction. Pleased with a 17 percent increase in exhibitors from across 36 countries, Lois Hall, GIBTM Exhibitions Manager commented: “The positive feedback from exhibitors, hosted buyers and trade visitors has been incredible. The Middle East has recognised the potential in attracting meetings and events to the region and the successful two and a half days of GIBTM illustrates that there is a hunger for the meetings sector to develop at a swift pace. We are very happy to hear that exhibitors and buyers had high-quality meetings and appointments and found their participation in GIBTM to be invaluable for the development of their business – that’s what the show is all about.”
More than 270 Hosted Buyers with high spending power from across the globe attended this year’s show and 7,672 pre-scheduled appointments took place, an impressive increase of over 8% from 2011. United States Senior Hosted Buyer, Kip Horton, President of International Division at HPN Global, commented: “As this region gains prominence as a destination for group meetings and incentives, anyone planning on working there needs to be at GIBTM.”
Hosted Buyers and trade visitors attend GIBTM for many reasons but discovering the business tourism potential amongst emerging destinations is high on the agenda. Ozer Guler, Group & Conventions Specialist at Turkish Arlines said “We participated in the show to raise awareness in the Middle East and since we are growing more than 20% on a yearly basis, we need visibility on leading industry platforms. GIBTM has strong potential to grow and we’re happy to be a part of it.”
Event solutions attracted crowds at the Technology Zone as the very latest technological innovations for meetings and events were explored and demonstrated. Leading suppliers QuickMobile from the United States took centre stage to announce their strategic partnership with Eventware FZ LC to accelerate the adoption of mobile event solutions in the Middle East. Craig Tunstall, Eventware said: “As a first time exhibitor, GIBTM has been really productive – there has been a lot of interest especially from Saudi Arabia and we saw a number of high quality people with good questions. There is great potential in the Middle East market and GIBTM is the best forum for our technology – it is a springboard for launching the partnership and a brand we want to align ourselves with.”
“There definitely was a buzz and a greater energy around the show this year, with a lot more regional buyers and walk in visitors which is what we are striving to achieve. GIBTM is always successful for us and gives us a great opportunity to showcase Abu Dhabi to the hosted buyers and the global industry from the news stories that emanate from it. It is definitely the region’s ‘must attend’ business events trade show,” commented Gillian Taylor of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.
“I find both the program and exhibitors of quality and would highly recommend this event to my network of peers and clients. It was my first time in Abu Dhabi and I was left in awe of the aggressive development that the city is undergoing and had achieved thus far,” added Singaporean Hosted Buyer Sapinah Itam, Regional Accounts Director at Global Cynergies.
A record-breaking number of hosted buyers and trade visitors attended a highly targeted education programme, exceeding figures from last year by 48%. Sessions held by leading association The Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) attracted large numbers of professionals, with some sessions adopting a “standing only” policy to accommodate maximum capacity. Ron DiLeo, Executive Director of ACTE said, “It is a strategic decision on our part to work with Reed Travel Exhibitions and GIBTM is hugely important to us. We’ve been operating in the GCC region for five years with a strong following. There is a great atmosphere at GIBTM, you can feel it as soon as you walk in.”
Such a substantial increase in the number of seminar attendees is a testament to the growing prominence of the incentives, business travel and meetings industry within the GCC region as professionals are eager to learn about best practices, future trends and how to maximize their potential. Increasingly popular sessions continued throughout the show with GIBTM’s first ever Arabic session delivered by Ali Al Saloom of Ask-Ali.com and seminars led by world renowned industry associations ICCA and MPI.
Growth within the region emerged as a prominent theme throughout GIBTM, supported by the latest Global Meetings Industry Research report for the Gulf, Middle East and North African region, carried out by the event organisers Reed Travel Exhibitions, Sally Greenhill of The Right Solution and Rob Nicholas of meetme. The highly anticipated report revealed that the UAE (Abu Dhabi and Dubai) is in the top ten list of countries that both Middle East and global buyers hold events in, and that event organisers are planning to increase the volume of events and their budgets for the region.
“Over 90 per cent of regional buyers predicted that their budgets will either rise or remain the same over the next 12 months, and we are seeing a much more positive attitude here compared to the global situation,” Sally Greenhill concluded.
Held under the patronage of Chairman, HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, GIBTM 2012’s distinguished industry partners include Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, ADNEC, AskAli.com, Etihad Airways and The Vision Destination Management Company. Meetme, published by NPI, is a global media partner and publisher of the official show daily publication.