ibtm arabia, which closed Feb. 12 in Abu Dhabi, created the first all-inclusive five-star MICE event in the Middle East for international and regional suppliers and buyers. It also brought them together as a community to do business and network over three days.
“Judging by the enthusiasm of our exhibitors and Hosted Buyers, we feel very confident that this new event format has been a huge success. Our strategy to mutually match the quality of both buyers and suppliers ensured their compatibility with each other. We also wanted to create a memorable experience and a strong community in addition to the valuable pre-scheduled appointments and that has been key to the success for everyone involved,” said Lois Wilcox, exhibition manager, ibtm arabia.
The only MICE event in the region to bring international and regional Hosted Buyers and exhibitors in a one-to-one ratio format, ibtm arabia delivered more than 3,000 mutually matched and pre-selected appointments over the two days of business meetings.
“The combination of the pre-scheduled appointments and nine networking opportunities have provided more touch points for everyone to help make meaningful connections,” commented Wilcox.
Zdenek Giormani, director of the Czech Convention Bureau, was delighted with the new concept.
“It’s a good way to do business; it’s more personal; I prefer it and the value of my meetings has also been very good,” stated Giormani.
Similarly, Lee Ford, head of operations for QNCC said, “It’s been excellent for us. We have some very strong leads and a very positive response. It’s also been great for networking, no time wasters, even with other exhibitors. We have been able to catch up on everything going on in the MICE industry in this region. I am sure we will be back.”
Nicoletta Paphitou, Cyprus Convention Bureau, added to the enthusiasm of exhibitors. She stated, “I think this is the most effective exhibition that I have every participated in.”
Carole O’Connor, marketing MICE Division for Rovos Rail in South Africa, added that the value to her company was outstanding.
“This has been a very different event,” explained O’Connor. “Chic, classy, sophisticated, I love the way it has been put together. We have had good quality appointments and two very interesting incentive opportunities — of course, we will be back.”
Marwan Haddad, director of sales & marketing for Marriott Doha, said that the new appointment system and the fact that the event was “closed” to trade visitors worked well.
“This has worked! The appointment set up where everyone moves after 15 minutes was right. The mutual match was also perfect, and we have had concrete inquiries – we will be back next year,” commented Haddad.
Ronar Nammour from Iktissadevents, UAE, was a Hosted Buyer for the first time.
“It’s been very helpful to my business. We work for corporates as well as the public and government sectors, and I am sure we are going to generate business. We are looking for opportunities for our clients in Europe, including Spain and Switzerland as well as the GCC, many contacts I had not been able to reach, but I have now met with in person!”
Next year, ibtm arabia (previously called GIBTM) will celebrate 10 years in Abu Dhabi.
“Its importance to the region has been fundamental to the emergence of the MICE sector. When the event was launched, there was very little infrastructure that supported meetings, conventions, events and incentives, but that has all changed,” added Wilcox.
The number of meetings in the Middle East has grown even quicker than in other regions – in fact they have more than tripled over the last decade, according to Euromonitor’s International, MICE and Business Travel.
“Over the next five years, we anticipate that the importance of the MICE sector will grow so that it will be the key to providing long term sustainability to the sector in Abu Dhabi” said Mubarak Al Shamsi, director, Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau, partners and official hosts to ibtm arabia. “The Mice industry contributes to the emirate’s tourism particularly since business visitors tend to have a larger disposable income than leisure visitors. We are confident that the success of the new style ibtm arabia will result in new business for our partners.”
For further information, visit www.ibtmarabia.com.