What are your expectations from GIBTM this year?
As GIBTM enters its eighth year, I can say with confidence that the show has reached new levels of maturity. This year, we welcome new international and regional hosted buyers, nearly 300 exhibitors including over 74 first time participants such as Korea, Kazakhstan, Thailand and South Africa and several thousand trade visitors.
This year participants will witness a content rich event, with GIBTM’s growth mirroring that of the region’s flourishing meetings sector. This was stimulated further by the World Expo2020 announcement in November 2013.
New this year will be a panel discussion offering insight into the business travel sector. The session is particularly appropriate given that we have introduced Business Travel @GIBTM to this year’s show. This will feature specialist exhibitors such as Kanoo Travel, Al Shamel Travel and Musafir.com. In addition, there is also a dedicated Business Travel Knowledge programme, sharing brand new research studies, with expert panel discussions as well as exclusive networking opportunities including invitation only Business Travel Networking Lunch sponsored by the Hyatt Capital Gate Hotel.
On the third day of the event, we will release the research on the Middle East MICE Buyers Report. Rob Davidson of University of Greenwich, will present findings of the brand new Middle Eastern Meeting Planners’ Site Selection Survey. This report will provide insight into how Middle East-based planners choose destinations and venues for their events.
What has been the growth witnessed this year over 2013?
We have 74 new exhibitors participating this year. Our international pavilion presence is also expanding, giving rise to a brand new Asia Pavilion to include Korea and Thailand. The European Pavilion will have no less than 15 exhibiting companies occupying a 25% larger floor space due to the addition of debutants such as I’way from the Czech Republic, Spain’s Iberostar Management, Barcelo Hotels and Resorts, Athens Convention Bureau, EPI Georgia, Arsenal Football Club and Aygun Turizm of Turkey. Furthermore, we are welcoming a number of new destinations to GIBTM such as Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Morocco, South Africa and South Korea.
Could you highlight the new features of the show this year?
The seminar programme has interesting sessions this year including the MICE Buyers report. Other new features include sourceme Pavilion in partnership which will showcase event service suppliers from the Gulf region; Technology & Services Zone showcasing technologically-advanced products and event planning services; Business Travel @GIBTM which features exhibitors in the Business Travel Zone. In addition, you have the Business Travel Knowledge programme and dedicated networking sessions.
We also have introduced the Asian Market Focus Hour, which provide a networking interaction between exhibitors and buyers targeting business in respective markets.
What are the top key MICE trends that one can look forward to for 2014?
Techno meetings: Meetings and events are becoming more tech-savvy. Smartphones are using specialized apps, tablets are being utilised to present at meetings and planners are using social media as a tool to assist them with registration processes. Not to mention the increasing amount of webinars, video conferencing and holograms (virtual meetings).
Creative Meetings: As demand for meetings space in hotels continues to grow, venues are also becoming increasingly creative in terms of both actual meeting room configurations as well as the menu of services and packages offered to clients, especially those who are looking for truly unique locations
Hybrid Events: The MICE industry is seeing more Hybrid Events being held in the region which involves a series of seminars that combines a ‘live’ in-person event with a ‘virtual’ online component.
Future planning in MICE: With the economy improving, there is once again a renewed demand for exhibitions, meetings and events to showcase latest products, services with brainstorming sessions about the future of the industry etc.
What are your visitor number expectations from the show this year?
We have already surpassed trade visitor pre-registration figures compared to 2013. I anticipate an increased number of visitors attending this year. We have also increased number of hosted buyers confirmed to attend this year coming from across 36 countries.