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April 16, 2008

GIBTM: String of successes

This year's show has demonstrated strong growth across the board with a 22.5% jump in exhibitors, double-digit growth in visitors and a huge rise in pre-scheduled appointments, with 1,500 more meetings held over 2007 figures.

"As a team we have been delighted by the way the second GIBTM has been received by the region. The feedback from exhibitors and visitors is that they have noticed an increase in both the size of the exhibition and the number of meetings taking place," said Graeme Barnett, event director, GIBTM. "We are delighted with the progress made and the pre-scheduled appointments system is key to that.”

GIBTM 2008 saw nearly 5,000 pre-scheduled appointments made between hosted buyers and exhibitors, a huge increase on the 3,500 appointments recorded for the 2007 show.


Striking a chord: Vanessa Mae at the
GIBTM Gala Reception at Al Raha Beach Hotel


"This year, to fall just short of 5,000 pre-scheduled appointments, has exceeded my expectations," Barnett said. "Our aim for the portfolio of events is to bring buyers and sellers together in a professional way. Both want to see a return on investment from the event, for their financial investment as well as for their time. They want to know that they can come to the show and do real business and that is what we hope to deliver."

For Barnett, the most positive outcome is that the regional market is coming to understand the value of the pre-scheduled appointments system. "For regional buyers, it is a new concept but they now understand that it benefits them to arrange their meetings in advance," he remarked.

GIBTM brought in 239 hosted buyers this year, an 11% increase on the first show, and all seem to have been impressed with the exhibition's format. "I have been impressed with the venue and the quality of exhibitors and visitors. With bigger fairs the pre-scheduled appointments system can get in a mess and you end up queuing, but here, there is time for conversation and that is very enjoyable," said hosted buyer Dries Jacobus, managing director of Borealis, from Belgium.

"I know facts and figures count for a show, but no one ever talks about the quality of exhibitors. I have been very impressed," he added.

Cecelia Amory, managing member, Egypt & Beyond, a hosted buyer from South Africa, was equally impressed with her GIBTM experience. "The show has been extremely well organised and as a hosted buyer the service has been very personal. I have been to quite a few international exhibitions and can say this has been the best hosted buyer experience ever, and I have been in the industry 32 years," she said.

For 2009, Barnett and his team are already looking at ways they can build on GIBTM's success.

"From an exhibitor's point of view we hope to deliver a product that attracts destinations that have not yet committed to GIBTM. I would also like to see more regional representatives from suppliers, particularly DMCs," Barnett explained. "From a visitor point of view, we will continue our research to understand who is responsible for placing meetings business in the region and hope to see them make GIBTM part of their annual calendar.

"I would like to come back in a year and deliver a show that is noticeably bigger and offers good business opportunities," he concluded.


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