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January 16, 2014

Middle East: Excitement builds ahead of GIBTM 2014 as business booms

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The Gulf Incentives, Business, Travel and Meetings (GIBTM) exhibition is returning to Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from March 24 to 26, 2014 with an expanded remit and enhanced calendar of business networking opportunities. 

According to Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), host of the recent International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) council meeting, the meetings and incentives sector is an increasingly important economic contributor that currently generates US$653 million (AED2.4 billion) each year for the emirate. This figure is set to grow by seven percent annually to reach US$1.39 billion (AED5.1 billion) by 2020. 
The region is also in line to reap the economic benefits of a share of an estimated US$5.6 billion (AED20.6 billion) worth of global business, with IAPCO’s extended member base responsible for organising more than 6,500 meetings each year and accommodating some 2.5 million delegates. 
The strength of the Middle East meetings and incentives market is supported by the findings of the 2013 IBTM Meetings Industry Research Report, which noted that 59 percent of Middle East buyers are forecasting increased budgets for the next 12 months with a corresponding 68.5 percent planning an increase in events in 2014. 
“Last year, GIBTM saw 251 Hosted Buyers attend with 67 percent placing orders in excess of US$650,000 (AED2.4 million). For 2014, we will welcome over 300 targeted buyers as demand continues to grow for quality interaction with leading industry suppliers. The new GIBTM event programme will build on previous show floor successes to allow us to continue to push both inbound and outbound business in the region,” said Lois Hall, Exhibition Manager, GIBTM. 
In 2013, 7,207 pre-scheduled appointments brought Hosted Buyers and exhibitors together, with 2,364 total visits and 302 exhibiting companies representing 35 countries. 
Industry professionals from the UAE, the UK, India, Saudi Arabia and the US led visitor interest last year and Hall reports an early surge in interest from buyers in the UK, Azerbaijan, France, Poland, Ukraine, China and Australia. 
“We are looking at a figure of 8,500 pre-scheduled appointments for 2014, which will be a significant increase on 2013 as we roll out a number of exciting initiatives, including our Business Travel Day which offers a full day of networking opportunities for this specific sector, the first-ever GIBTM hosted Market Focus on Asia event along with a dedicated Asia Pavilion, and the sourceme Pavilion, in partnership with Nicholas Publishing International (NPI), which will showcase the leading event service suppliers from the Gulf region’s only annual events directory,” said Hall. 
Rob Nicholas, Managing Director of NPI and publisher of sourceme, said: “On the corporate side, we know that meetings and events are often managed by the same person. Adding the event supplier dimension to GIBTM, therefore, adds value and appeal to buyers by enabling them to achieve so much more on the show floor. 
“From the supplier’s perspective, they benefit from an event that encompasses an unrivalled base of qualified buyers brought in from key markets across the world, as well as regional corporate attendees. They can display their credentials alongside destination pavilions, leading hotel groups, venues and DMCs. This is a mix that cannot be matched by any other event in the region and we are very pleased to partner with GIBTM to provide value to our sourceme partners, as well as to the show.” 
Nicholas added: “sourceme is the industry reference for event suppliers and buyers of their services. It contains every leading event services company from staging and entertainment through to AV and venues. Produced in print and online and matching buyers with suppliers, we are now able to add a face-toface element by bringing these audiences together at GIBTM.” 
Post-show research also confirmed that 99 percent of the Hosted Buyers surveyed were satisfied that the show delivered the right target audience and 96 percent of exhibitors say the show is a “must attend event”. 
The new Market Focus on Asia hour and Asia Pavilion have been introduced to capitalise on the growth of buyer interest in the region, supported by research conducted by Global Research, which shows that 300 surveyed Asian buyers spend a mean average of US$307,917 annually on events within the UAE. 
Buyers from major global brands in 2013 included the Bank of Beirut, Carlson Wagonlit, Christie’s, Deloitte, McKinsey & Company, Petrofac Services, Rio Tinto and the United Arab Emirates University. 
Business travel will be in focus throughout the show with visitors invited to participate in the Business Travel Networking session, dedicated Business Travel Educational sessions and GIBTM Knowledge Hub Programme. 
Additional value will be offered to Hosted Buyers through the launch of a series of post-event familiarisation tours to key regional cities giving destinations the opportunity to showcase their business and meeting facilities, hospitality portfolio and leisure attractions to global decision-makers. 
For more information, visit gibtm.com 

The lowdown on the benefits for Hosted Buyers attending GITBM… 
What is a Hosted Buyer? 
A Hosted Buyer is a senior level professional who holds full responsibility for the procurement of meetings, incentive travel, conference, events or business travel on behalf of their company or clients. These individuals are invited, verified and qualified to attend GIBTM and enjoy exclusive VIP benefits including complimentary flights and accommodation. 
How does the Hosted Buyer Programme work and what are the benefits of attending?
 As part of the Hosted Buyer Programme, GIBTM will fully host qualified buyers over the two-and-a-half days of the exhibition, including flights, hotel accommodation and ground transportation. Buyers will receive a diary of pre-scheduled appointments, access to GIBTM Knowledge professional education, invitations to networking events plus exclusive access to a business lounge where refreshments and Wi-Fi is available. For GIBTM 2014, we are enhancing the programme and will offer the opportunity to attend exclusive post-event tours across the region to help develop first-hand knowledge and enable informed decisions on their regional business needs. 
Explain the Pre-Scheduled Appointment system? 
Once accepted onto the programme, buyers are given access to an online portal called the Hosted Buyer Zone which will showcase GIBTM exhibitors with full information on the products and services they offer, so that buyers are able to select the type of exhibitors they want to meet with. Once all buyers have selected their preferences, our bespoke appointment system generates one-to-one appointments with exhibitors. We also offer a tool that enables buyers and exhibitors can make additional mutually requested appointments. The Hosted Buyer Zone acts as a one-stop shop where they can also access all their travel arrangements, see the available networking functions and select the GIBTM Knowledge professional education sessions they wish to attend. 
How do exhibitors benefit from the Hosted Buyer Programme?
It guarantees a highly targeted audience of top-level buyers with proven budgets and business to place. Exhibitors receive a diary of pre-scheduled appointments in advance of GIBTM that allows enough time to prepare for business meetings at the exhibition. Our buyer-driven appointment system ensures genuine and relevant business opportunities with a focus on quality and maximum return on investment. 
What are the qualifying criteria for anyone interested in becoming a Hosted Buyer? 
The programme is offered to individuals on a basis of application and selection. We have a minimum level of criteria that buyers must meet in order to be eligible for the VIP status. This is based on current and future business needs in the region, their influence in making the final decision for such business, along with budget and company profile relevant to the developing market across the GCC region. 
For more information about the GIBTM Hosted Buyer Programme, please visit gibtm.com/hosted 

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