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April 16, 2012

GULF STEAM AHEAD:Exhibitors and buyers hail record-breaking GIBTM



The growth in both exhibitors and senior buyers at this year’s Gulf Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition (GIBTM) saw the show described as the best in its six-year history. High-quality appointments, enhanced show features and the new show format also made significant contributions to the event’s feelgood factor.


The rise in high-quality senior buyers at GIBTM 2012, especially from the Middle East and Asia, as well as a 100% increase in buyers from Saudi Arabia compared to last year, greatly contributed to exhibitor satisfaction, according to organisers Reed Travel Exhibitions. Delighted with a 17% 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% on 2011. US 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 among emerging destinations was high on the agenda. Ozer Guler, group and conventions specialist at Turkish Airlines, 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 US took centre stage to announce their strategic partnership with Eventware FZ LC to accelerate the adoption of mobile event solutions in the Middle East. 


“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,” said Eventware’s Craig Tunstall. “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.”


Fellow exhibitor, Gillian Taylor of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, was particularly impressed with the atmosphere at this year’s GIBTM.


 “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,” she said. “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.” 


First-time Singaporean hosted buyer Sapinah Itam, regional accounts director at Global Cynergies, said he found both the education programme and exhibitors high quality adding: “I would highly recommend this event to my network of peers and clients.” He was one of a record-breaking number of hosted buyers and trade visitors at the event who attended the 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 the most people.


“It is a strategic decision on our part to work with Reed Travel Exhibitions and GIBTM is hugely important to us,” said ACTE executive director Ron DiLeo


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 Gulf Cooperation Council region as professionals are eager to learn about best practices, future trends and how to maximise 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 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 10 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% 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,” Greenhill concluded.


For more information, visit www.gibtm.com



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