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Article from BTNews 9 DECEMBER 2013


Jane Stanbury travelled to Barcelona on Air Charter Travel

EIBTM, the annual global meeting and events expo held between 19 – 21 November 2013  in Barcelona, Spain, demonstrated that this sector of the travel market is certainly showing signs of strengthening again as new countries become popular group destinations, and new buyers are entering the market. Positive trends were shown with over 65,000 pre-scheduled appointments attended and a 7.7% increase in trade visitor attendance, with 40% of these first time visitors to the event.

The renewed confidence witnessed across the industry was further reinforced by two major research reports presented onsite including the findings of Rob Davidson’s EIBTM Industry Trends Report (www.eibtm.com/trendsreport), and The Right Solution’s IBTM Global Research (IBTMevents.com). Both recorded increased levels of optimism as the meetings and events industry continues to remain a critical driver for supporting organisations in their business development.

The reports commented on the general landscape of the sector describing the changes over the last year. In terms of groups travelling it seems Healthcare and Telcoms are leading the way in MICE activity however the automotive sector which had dropped off is returning to the stage, led by the newer Asian producers, rather than the traditional manufacturers. Back high on the list of groups travelling is the cosmetics sector which now considers MICE (Meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) activity as an essential part of the marketing mix said Sally Greenhill of The Right Solution one of the report’s authors.

In terms of destinations familiar countries such as France, Italy and Spain are still popular however its anticipated that next year Spain will lose some traction with European countries such as Switzerland and Belgium taking over – somewhat inspired by the Flanders 100 years anniversary – and further afield the Ukraine and Russia are becoming popular.  Poland has become a rising star of the new destinations with twelve new venues being built and a further 25 international brand hotels opening across the country.   Krzysztof Celuch of the Poland Convention Bureau commented that with Poland’s work force spreading through Europe, and more international companies opening in Poland it is ideally positioned, with EU support, to become a major player in the MICE business arena. He added that one of its strengths was its location at an ideal junction where east meets west making it an attractive proposition for many countries.

Demonstrating the importance of the Polish market Air Charter Travel, the UK-based, large group air charter specialist arranged its first ever Hosted Buyer flight from Poland to EIBTM when working in conjunction with event organisers Reed Travel Exhibitions as it arranged a flight for 168 leading Polish travel buyers from Warsaw to Barcelona. The flight was in addition to the regular London Gatwick originating Hosted Buyer operaton that Air Charter Travel has arranged for the last twenty years.  “It was exciting to have the opportunity to fly this group to EIBTM. It presented us with an excellent first time opportunity to showcase the benefits of flying by private charter to a whole new market,” said Tim Procter, Managing Director of Air Charter Travel. “Charter flights mean clients can save time and money by travelling on the day they want, at the time they need, directly to their preferred destination without the need for transfers at hubs or any unnecessary lengthy queuing” says Procter about some of the benefits the Polish buyers experienced.

Technology is also having an effect on trends throughout the meetings industry with new technologies adding creative options for events, helping to improve audience engagement and increasing the audience numbers. However the flipside of the experience is the added costs associated with providing the equipment needed and with requirements to demonstrate ROI for the meetings,  it was proving hard to justify the expense. Facebook appears to be the most popular social media platform for the industry as it reflects where delegates are mostly active online.

EIBTM employed technology to improve the quality of its own show as it launched EIBTM Live (www.eibtm.com/live), a virtual education stream tailored to meetings industry professionals across the globe.

Key sessions of the EIBTM Knowledge Programme, were streamed online in real time over the three days of the show and received tweets from as far as Canada, Switzerland, Italy and Netherlands. EIBTM also partnered with Genieconnect, tthe event engagement solutions provider for the industry, to deliver a multi-event App which was available for everyone attending the show. The App was designed to enhance the experience of the attendee before, during and after the show, by putting exhibitor and event listings, features and information at their fingertips and enabling them to keep up to date with all EIBTM news. GenieConnect (www.genie-connect.com), also won this year’s EIBTM Technology Watch (www.eibtm.com/techwatch) for its marketing automation and personalisation tool; MarketingConnect. Along with technology the human side was not forgotten with 100 new educational seminars delivered, new networking areas being created, and an improved floor plan allowing easier navigation of the exhibition.

Reed Travel reports they have already booked out 34% of the floor space for EIBTM 2014 so confirming the optimistic and positive outlook from the buzzing sector. www.eibtm.com

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