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April 16, 2008

EIBTM shows the future is still bright

Falling attendance at exhibitions and trade shows has cursed a number of events, but EIBTM, the global meetings and incentive exhibition held in the Fira Gran Via, Barcelona, has bucked the trend. The 2006 show was on track for record figures, with over 2,750 hosted buyers, a 10% increase on the previous year, while overall visitor numbers were up 7% to more than 6,000.

It’s good news for the industry in general, as well as oragnisers Reed in particular, which has replicated the show’s formula in China and is planning on doing the same in Abu Dhabi later this year. The recent London World Travel Market took a dip in attendance, so contented exhibitors are important, and EIBTM delivered them in abundance.


Attention seekers: some of the highlights
from this year's show

Regional delights

Sibella Arguello, promotion and marketing director for CentroAmerica, was equally confident. "On Tuesday we had to plan for an unscheduled fourth destination presentation as we had over 80 people who wanted to know more about our region. We are very pleased with the quality of hosted buyers and we have leads from China, Russia, France, UK and India.”

Serbia, a newcomer this year, reported that all its expectations were met over the three days and says it is planning to maintain the momentum by returning in 2007. CYTS, from China, reported that this year's event was so successful it is planning an even bigger representation for 2007. And Mark Blair, of Kent-based event insurance experts Insurex, said: “We’ve met some excellent leads at the show. Success is now down to us in the follow up.”

As is the trend nowadays, it’s the add-ons that are becoming a vital part of every show. The networking events held alongside the main exhibition were well attended, including over 2,000 people enjoying the Welcome Party on Tuesday. The EIBTM Association Programme is also growing in popularity, providing approved delegates with flights from Europe and the US, accommodation in Barcelona, networking functions, a comprehensive educational programme and a personal diary of appointments with EIBTM exhibitors. Post exhibition, many hosted buyers took advantage of the add-on trips, which this year included a few extra days in London, Sitges in Spain and Copenhagen in Denmark.

The hosted buyer programme is an essential part of the event, and seems to work well. Viana Munday, of the Mauritius Tourist Board, told EVENTS:review: “Virtually everyone we had booked has turned up, and they’ve all been quality visitors. And then we had to cope with unexpected visitors.” Other exhibitors also suggested that the quality of hosted buyers had gone up, and the number of no-shows diminished dramatically, no doubt helped in part by the threat by Reed to debit credit cards for 400 euros if they failed to honour agreed appointments.

Generating opportunities

Paul Kennedy, group exhibition director at Reed, summed it all up: "With over 34,000 appointments pre-scheduled between hosted buyers and exhibitors, we are more than delighted by this year's event. The atmosphere in the halls over the three days has been one of the busiest I can remember. Our aim was to help the industry generate the best business opportunities and the comments from both exhibitors and visitors are testament to this."

As well as a number of new countries attending for the first time, the show also saw an enlarged technology area, and increased numbers of seminars, as well as the publication of its annual Trend report, researched and delivered by Rob Davidson of Westminster University.

Barcelona has not yet made the show as welcome as Geneva; the show’s location at the Fira 2, well out of the city can make it a bind to get to. But, with a commitment to stay in the city for the next few years, and with the event improving with each outing, EIBTM looks certain to stay as one of the jewels in Reed’s crown.

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