Ms. Lois Hall (Exhibition Director of GIBTM)




In a candid conversation with Travel and Tour World, Ms. Lois Hall, Exhibition Director of GIBTM, speaks about her experiences and expectations from the tourism industry.






Conversation
TTW – How will you differentiate GIBTM 2013 from the last few episodes and what is the primary USP for this year?

Lois Hall : GIBTM, which is now in its seventh year, is the leading platform for the incentives, business travel and meetings industry in the Middle East. The show attracts in excess of 2,400 industry professionals annually and is the only event of its kind in the Gulf region.

The exhibition is growing year-on-year and we are delighted to confirm that GIBTM 2013 will be our largest event to date. The percentage of floor space dedicated to European exhibitors has also quadrupled since last year, and we will be welcoming our highest number of regional buyers to date. We have also implemented a wide array of new features and networking opportunities, which will make this edition the most action packed, and full of opportunities, offering our participants maximum return on investment for their participation.

 

TTW – GIBTM Education program – How does this facilitate industry professionals and amateur travel enthusiasts with the same curriculum?

Lois Hall : One of the key aims of GIBTM 2013 is to find new, innovative ways to deliver education and interact with meetings industry professionals at all levels of seniority.The GIBTM Knowledge Hub has several new initiatives this year, whilst the addition of Event Camp Middle East will explore new ways of delivering information whilst allowing the audience to engage and contribute.

The Event Camp feature area on the show floor will allow visitors and buyers to experience, learn and interact with likeminded professionals. The program will deliver real life case studies, strategies for leveraging social media, and new technologies designed to inspire meetings industry professionals and provide them with an opportunity to discuss their insight and examples of what is working and ‘what’s coming next’ in the meetings and events industry.

The PechaKucha 20×20 Challenge, will give our attendees something a little bit different to the usual education sessions, allowing them to get creative, experience, interact – and most of all have fun – whilst developing their knowledge of the MICE industry. We are inviting all attendees to bite the bullet and present 20 slides for 20 seconds each on any subject of their choice. Our audience of meetings and events planners from all over the world will decide on the best presentation and the winner will receive a two-night stay at a secret location!

Other highlights of the GIBTM 2013 education program include; the presentation of the 7th GIBTM Middle East Meetings Research, Industry Association sessions from MPI and ICCA, business travel sessions delivered in partnership with ACTE, sessions delivered by Event Camp Middle East and a range of Arabic sessions presented by the respected Ali Al Saloom of Ask Ali.com.

TTW: The technological detonation in travel industry is the new buzz. How would put it in your words as GIBTM plans to host a technology zone in the fair premises?

Lois Hall : Launched last year, the GIBTM Technology Zone is dedicated to showcasing the industry’s most technologically advanced products to our visitors. This section of the show provides exhibitors with the opportunity to highlight their newest technological releases and developments for 2013, placing GIBTM at the forefront of industry innovations in the region.
Technology is one of the driving forces behind the industry and so it is important for us to present innovations to our attendees, providing them with an insight into the future of the industry.

TTW: Europe is going through a huge economic setback. Do you still see potential tourism trade from Europe? What is the future of European outbound travel?

Lois Hall : Yes, we do indeed. As I mentioned before we have seen a substantial increase in European exhibitors this year – their presence on the show floor has quadrupled since last year.

New European exhibitors confirmed to attend GIBTM 2013 include Serbia Convention Bureau, Athens Convention Bureau, Ascari Race Car, Marmara Collectin, Adile Sultan Sarayi, Georgian National Tourism Agency, Madrid Convention Bureau, and Cnidus. The Hungarian National Tourist Office will also be attending, returning to the show for their third year. For these exhibitors GIBTM provides a platform to introduce their organizations to key buyers from both the Gulf region and Asia.

Commenting on GIBTM Aniko Ferenczy, Director, Hungarian Tourism PLC said, “We are exhibiting at GIBTM since 2011 and it has given us the perfect introduction to key stakeholders from both the Gulf region and from Asia. Through GIBTM we have been able to arrange quality meetings, which have resulted in us introducing Hungary as a new destination to MICE industry professionals in the Middle East. We are very much looking forward to attending GIBTM 2013.”

Undoubtedly the economic climate in Europe has been an issue for the industry for some time, however people realize that, in order to drive economies forward, meetings and events still need to take place. We believe that the industry today is as resilient as in 2008 when the crisis started.

I believe that the future of European outbound travel looks positive. Air links between Europe and the Middle East are improving;direct flights are available from Abu Dhabi to several European airports including London Heathrow, Paris, Dublin, Frankfurt, Berlin, Amsterdam and Geneva.

TTW: Event Camp Middle East (#ECME 13) seems very interesting. What is the primary idea behind this innovative event? Do you see positive prospect?

Lois Hall : The idea behind the concept is to allow visitors and buyers to experience, learn and interact with likeminded professionals. The program will deliver real life case studies, strategies for leveraging social media, and new technologies designed to inspire meetings industry professionals and provide them with an opportunity to discuss their insight and examples of what is working and ‘what’s coming next’ in the meetings and events industry.

Speakers at Event Camp will include; Mike McAllen – Event Camp founder and senior meeting planner; and Craig Rispin – author, keynote speaker, and thought leaders mentor. Event Camp speakers will discuss a range of topics including; marketing and social media at events in the Middle East; making hybrid events work; entering the world of augmented reality; and latest trends in event technology.

Event Camp will also run as a hybrid seminar, making GIBTM education accessible to meetings industry professionals across the globe. This brand new co-location feature will add to the education aspect of the event, meeting the desire of MICE professionals to learn about new technologies. All GIBTM attendees will have access to the Event Camp, which will take place on each day of the show and will be available online for the rest of the year.

 

TTW: GIBTM 2013 will surely boost Abu Dhabi Tourism, would you like to comment on the hot spots for our readers?

Lois Hall : This year we have created a special page on the GIBTM event app which includes hot spots of where to go and what to see! We encourage everyone to download the app even if you are unable to make it to the show as they’ll find a mini version of the exhibition including exhibitor and speaker information and tips of exploring Abu Dhabi! You can download the app here:http://www.ibtmevents.com/IBTM-App/

TTW: Finally, leading this major travel and trade fair must have been really hectic, let us know the future of travel and tourism industry in Middle East and Asia in next five years.

Lois Hall : Each year IBTM conducts detailed post-show research with all attendees following the show. We value the responses we receive as they allow us to ensure that GIBTM is continually evolving to meet the needs of the industry.
Post show research following GIBTM 2012 showed that the future is looking very positive for travel and tourism in the Middle East. 91% of Middle Eastern buyers stated that the number of events hosted in the next 12 months would either increase or stay the same.

In terms of the future of travel and tourism in Asia, our research showed that 65% of MENA buyers who attended GIBTM reported an increase in events placed over the next 12 months, with Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Japan being specified as top destinations to place future business. GIBTM 2013 is set to launch the Market Focus on Asia Networking Event as a direct response to this demand.

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