GIBTM 2014 has unveiled the eagerly anticipated release of the inaugural Middle East Buyers Report, which surveyed planners from ten countries in the Middle East, to gain direct insight into their purchasing habits and the decision-making process.
The results highlighted that price alone was not a key driver for regional buyers in the meetings and incentives sector.
The myth about price-conscious buyers was clearly highlighted in three very specific questions.
When regional buyers were asked which features were most important when choosing a venue, price came in fourth place (48 per cent) behind ease of access (61 per cent), safety and security (52 per cent) and professionalism of staff (52 per cent).
It was a similar response when meeting planners were asked about the least helpful type of behaviour of venue staff.
Inflexibility in price negotiation came in fourth position (55 per cent) behind venue changes not communicated (61 per cent), slow staff response (58 per cent) and staff turnover (58 per cent).
“Another interesting statistic was the fact that the flexibility of meetings space ranked higher than price, when considering which features of a venue were most important to a buyer,” said report author, Rob Davidson, senior lecturer in events management at the University of Greenwich, London.
“Overall the study analysed 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 Davidson.
Other highlights of the study were that the UAE is the leading destination two thirds of meeting planners reporting having held meetings there in the last two years.
Outside of the region, approximately 70 per cent of 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 half of respondents have also held events in Asian countries, with Malaysia, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka the top three ranked destinations.
The report also found that 97.5 per cent 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 offer dedicated propositions.
GIBTM expects to 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.