Graeme Barnett Senior Exhibition Director EIBTM

EIBTM, is all set to open its doors in November (18th to 20th) in Barcelona, Spain. Being one of the official media partners of EIBTM, Travel And Tour World shares a candid conversation with Mr. Graeme Barnett, Senior Exhibition Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, EIBTM.

Travel And Tour World – EIBTM 2014 will be bigger than 2013 for sure, let our readers have a glimpse of the facts and figures of this show to be held in November 2014.

Graeme Barnett : We are certainly busy planning for another exciting show. As the global meetings and events exhibition, EIBTM is where the industry connects face-to-face for three days of powerful business, world-class education and networking, all in one place and all in the dynamic city and award winning business destination of Barcelona.
For exhibitors, Hosted Buyers and trade visitors, EIBTM is a powerful and cost-effective way to connect, engage and build trust, develop relationships, conduct business and expand industry knowledge. Over 15,000 industry professionals gather every year at EIBTM, because the event provides a dynamic platform for the development of an individual’s business in every sense.

Every year, EIBTM welcomes over 3,000 exhibitors from more than 150 countries worldwide, representing destinations, hotels, venues, and technology and event services. We are also expecting over 4,000 Hosted Buyers who will make more than 65,000 pre-scheduled appointments during the three days of the show. As a result of EIBTM 2013, the estimated average order value for exhibitors was €417,580 with an additional €388,693 of orders expected after the event. With the economy being stronger and industry more optimistic we are certainly hoping to see an increase in business for the time ahead.





Travel And Tour World – Would you like to brief us about your role as the Senior Exhibition Director? What was the major challenge that you came across in your tenure with EIBTM?

Graeme Barnett : My role is to oversee EIBTM from both a strategic and production perspective, but of course it is a team effort across sales, marketing, Hosted Buyer, operations, customer service, and PR. When we arrive onsite, this team is over 70 people strong.As the Senior Exhibition Director it is my job to watch over everything and ensure that the evolution of the event is in line with what the industry expects and in line with the strategic goals of the show.EIBTM is a vital business platform and it’s my job to make sure that every opportunity is delivered to all our attendees to achieve the objectives they set for their participation.

The management of exhibitions is a challenge in itself. Events can’t standstill, they have to evolve and we have an Advisory Board and many industry associations and partners that give us their advice and the benefit of their knowledge in all of the sectors that make up the meetings industry. If there is one area though that keeps us on our toes, it is technology. The advancements of this sector are exponential and ourchallenge is to ensure that EIBTM reflects those changes, keeps ahead of the game and brings innovations to the show, so that the 15,000 professionals that attend every year can see what the future could look like when they plan their events, conferences and meetings.




Travel And Tour World: What will be major attraction of EIBTM 2014 according to you?

Graeme Barnett :
Obviously the major attraction of EIBTM 2014, as it is every year, is its focus on the global meetings and events industry. It is the place to grow business, network, develop knowledge and insight and re-connect with industrycolleagues and friends. As an exhibitor, EIBTM is the annual event to connect with top-level decision makers from all over the world and for the Hosted Buyers or trade visitors it’s the chance to discover over 3,000 industry products and services under one roof and hold productive meetings.

Outside of the business of meetings, EIBTM’s Knowledge Programme is also a major attraction and is a hub of professional education with seminars, workshops and conference sessions that cover all of the topics that face the industry now and in the future. It’s open to everyone and packed with influential, expert speakers offering attendees insights and advice that canenhance career and business development.

Another highlight for 2014 is the annual Meetings Leadership Summit, which is of significant interest to senior decision makers in the industry. This invitation only event offers a global forum where insights and trends that affect and influence businesses now and in the future can be debated. It is a great opportunity for industry leaders to connect and discuss their common purpose: to make their organisations more competitive, more agile, more profitable, more dynamic and able to respond to constantly changing business dynamics.

Also back by popular demand, is theInnovation Zone, a feature which includes speaker presentations and a demonstration area where exhibitors and buyers can experience and interact with the latest in cutting-edge technology and event services.





Travel And Tour World: Share some of the trends and impacts of this show in the recent times. You can share your views about the best performing markets and the emerging markets of the world.

Graeme Barnett :
Rob Davidson, EIBTM Industry Analyst identified in his EIBTM 2013 Trends Watch Research that the overall forecast for global meetings and events in 2014 is ‘optimistic.

His report states that: Meetings, events and business travel will continue to remain critical drivers assisting organisations in their efforts to reach their strategic business objectives and effectively communicate with their employees, customers and partners worldwide.
The research has identified 4 key trends, which we can expect for meetings on 2014, which are as follows:


Inversion of Growth Patterns: We’ve seen a significant inversion of growth patterns, which have become the norm, since the global economic downturn. Advanced economies are gradually strengthening while at the same time; growth in emerging market economies has slowed down.

Recovery of the Corporate Meetings Sector: Much of the cause for optimism in our industry has come as a result of the recovery of the corporate meetings sector. Over the past 12 months, there have been numerous indications that companies are increasingly loosening their purse-strings and boosting their spending on corporate events.

Significant increase in International Association Business: European meetings professionals are seeing significant increases in international association business whilst their peers in the U.S. are also seeing significant increases in the domestic association market.
Signs of improved economic stability and increased meetings activity in the domestic corporate and international associations sectors have bolstered stronger confidence in the European market

Incentive Travel is making a Come Back: The SITE Index has revealed that ‘the overall use of motivational travel experiences was on an upswing’
86% of respondents predicting that it will increase (or substantially increase) in the next 1 to 3 years.
In regards to emerging markets, there are a few markets, which stand out as those which are emerging the fastest and headlining as key global MICE destinations, which will attract an increasing level of inbound business.
For example, the Asia-Pacific is one of the fastest growing regions in the world with Singapore and Honk Kong already being recognized as leading MICE destinations.
China is also soon expected to become one of the most popular MICE destinations worldwide – and this success is pinned upon the attractive combination it offers of rich cultural heritage and one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
India holds enormous potential for the MICE industry with a projected GDP growth of over 8% in the next 5 years. In addition, according to Euro monitor International, India’s outbound business is fast becoming more international and increasingly seeking new and unexplored destinations across the globe for MICE and business travel. In fact, in 2012 MICE and business travel accounted for 32% of all outbound travel totaling 4.9 million trips and is set to increase by an estimated 62% by 2017.India’s inbound market with the rapid development of its MICE facilities and easy access from destinations worldwide, the country has emerged as one of the most sought after MICE destinations. In 2012, inbound MICE and business travel accounted for 41% of all inbound travel totaling 2.9 million trips and is set to increase by an estimated 73% by 2017.



Travel And Tour: Speaking about the advent of technology in business traveling, what are the major events on technology that will enlighten the visitors and the participants in EIBTM 2014?

Graeme Barnett :Technology is the number one driver of change for this industry. As an event we are increasingly devoting feature areas, hands-one live demos, lectures and workshops plus of course space on the show floor to companies involved in technology and innovative products and services.

Today’s and tomorrow’s meetings industry is dominated by technology and buzz words like “crowdsourcing”, “co-created”, hybrid events”, “real-time”, “cloud-based apps” and “web solutions”. This is one area of the sector that has progressed immeasurably and we see our focus becoming more visible and interactive each year.The advancements of technology in meetings are helping to cut costs, improve efficiencies and open new communication channels so it’s all vital and integral to EIBTM if we are to maintain our status as the world’s leading event for the industry.

From an exhibitor perspective, we see this as a key growth sector, every year we have more exhibitors wanting to present their technology ideas, and we have evolved the show floor to accommodate them for example,the Innovation Zone was launched three years ago as an interactive showcase that had Spotlight Sessions and live demonstrations and proved to be very popular.

This year we are working on enabling more real-time presentations so that applications can be on show for people to use and of course more importantly to interact and engage with the presenters. There is also the Technology and Services Zone, which is an area devoted to suppliers who provide infrastructure for live events and experiences, whilst the annual Technology Watch Awards, the industry’s longest running and most significant award, which in 2013 attracted it’s highest ever entry level with a record 60 individuals and companies putting forward their concepts, continues to be a key feature.
Developments in technology are also highlighted through the EIBTM Knowledge Programme. Each day the very popular Tech Hours with a focus on the latest trends and technologies of the industry, take place.. We expect technology to continue to shape the industry in the future, and EIBTM intends to be the showcase for where it will take us all.




Travel And Tour World: Green Meetings are the latest trend. Do you think it will replace face-to-face meetings in the future?

Graeme Barnett : This debate is taking place around the world every day. As with any industry, there are of course generational differences in the way in which technology is embraced. However, we have also seen that each side of the generational divide believes that their experience should be both interactive and worthwhile before, during and after the event, which is what we aim to achieve. We have also seen that, regardless of generation, our attendees regard virtual technology as a supplement to meeting face-to-face, rather than as an alternative, demonstrating the importance that our attendees place on a physical meeting. Embracing the future is key to success in business and it’s our job to create a platform in EIBTM that showcasesthese solutions.

We believe that technology will continue to develop at an exponential rate and EIBTM will keep pace with it through innovation and creative ways of demonstrating the very latest products and services. It’s obvious that as an industry we must keep up with new technologies and become ever more adaptive to changing circumstances, standing still is not an option.

The important thing to note here is that whilst the future will present a number of alternative meeting solutions such as hybrid events or virtual conferences, the need for face-to-face meetings will certainly remain.



Travel And Tour World: Which section of the world shows more interest in this show?

Graeme Barnett : EIBTM gathers over 15,000 meetings industry professionals with over 3,000 Exhibitors, representing over 150 countries.The diversity of countries, cities, destinations and cultures is evident throughout the show and it is very clear that EIBTM is a truly global event. Obviously some countries have a stronger presence than others at the show, however we pride ourselves in attracting audiences from across the globe.

For EIBTM 2013 key source countries for Hosted Buyers werethe UK, Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and Sweden. However we also attracted large numbers from other key global economies including the U.S., Asia, Africa, South America, Brazil, Mexico and India.


To date we can confirm 90 new Hosted Buyer Group Coordinators (20% increase from EIBTM 2013), who will bring some of the world’s most senior buyers to this year’s event. We have seen a huge increase in new groups coming on board from Europe, with 57 signed up already.

In terms of long haul Hosted Buyer groups, we have Group Coordinators confirmed from Brazil, including Leading Hotels of the World, Mondo Travel Marketing, GI Grupo de Incentivo and Kontik Franstur. We have also recruited a further 5 groups from India and 5 new groups from the Middle East, who will attend in addition to the 72 groups whom we already accommodate.


Furthermore, we have also established relationships with a number of new groups participating from the UK, with Hosted Buyers invited by Wedgewood, Hotel Republic Limited, Evintra, Ultimate Project Group, Great Hotels of the World and Global DMC Partners.

Finally, Hyatt Hotels have confirmed that they will be bringing an additional three groups from USA, UK and France to the show and Kuoni have confirmed they will be bringing additional groups from Germany, France, Mexico and Russia. Hilton also plans to extend their reach to individual European countries as well as Qatar, Kuwait, UAE and Saudi Arabia. Our trade visitors and exhibitors also come from all over the world.
With over 150 countries represented at EIBTM whether as Exhibitors, HostedBuyers or trade visitors, it is clear to see why the entire global MICE community considers EIBTM the place to be this November.




Travel And Tour World: Tell us something about the best takeaways for the Hosted Buyers in EIBTM 2014.

Graeme Barnett : The key elements for Hosted Buyers at this year’s show will incorporate a range of networking events, each specifically designed to enable attendees to create new and further existing business relationships within the industry. These events include the official EIBTM Welcome Reception, Networking Hours on the exhibition floor, which allow Hosted Buyers the opportunity to network, make new connections and feel the buzz of EIBTM outside of their appointments.

Hosted Buyers can also look forward to receiving invitations to other exciting events such as breakfasts, luncheons and dinners to exclusive cocktail parties, providing the perfect platforms to network with industry peers.

As a new initiative EIBTM has launched “My Association | My Club” ( for Association Planners to be able create their own agenda, including time to network with their peers and Association community and to choose education sessions that suit their business and career needs. Designed to facilitate this flexibility, My Association | My Club will have its own identity (for EIBTM 2014) and will offer association meeting planners an enhanced experience at the show.

In addition to a flexible schedule, additional benefits will include a personalised diary of appointments with a choice of over 3,000 international exhibitors, dedicated networking events and Club Lounge to connect with contacts as well as enjoy refreshments and lunch and the ability to select knowledge sessions to suit the individual’s needs, rather than attend a set programme.
Successful applicants of the EIBTM 2014 Hosted Buyer Programme can receive VIP treatment including being hosted in the beautiful business and tourism city of Barcelona. Benefits of the Hosted Buyer Programme include: A personalised diary of pre-scheduled appointments with own choice of international exhibitors, complimentary return travel, complimentary accommodation in one of Barcelona’s 4/5* hotels, flexible attendance options, access to a number of networking events, access to VIP lounges situated on the show floor and post show fam-trips.




Travel And Tour World: Wrapping up, tell us your views about the role of digital marketing and the social media channels in the promotion and branding of EIBTM.

Graeme Barnett : Digital marketing and social media is a crucial part of our communications strategy. These platforms allow us to continuously build our community as well as engage and communicate with our exhibitors, Hosted Buyers and trade visitors throughout the year.


We have Twitter platforms, the EIBTM Facebook page, LinkedIn and our own YouTube site, plus a show website to inform and engage.


As social media has evolved, it has become an enabler for fast paced knowledge and learning, something that our attendees have come to expect when attending shows. This generation has become accustomed to immediacy, and bite sized education allowing more knowledge to be consumed in less time. However, we have seen that social media is largely regarded as a supplement to face-to-face networking rather than a replacement.


Social media has been a key trend in the industry for the past few years and it is predicted, that this technology will continue to grow, integrating into the meeting planning process.


At EIBTM we are a big believer in the power of social media to allow our attendees to engage both with each other and usbefore, during and after the show.


Beyond social media, we use a wide range of digital channels to communicate and interact with our audiences from email marketing to our website and our dedicated show app. We certainly see the role of digital marketing continuing to grow significantly over the coming years and we are investing both time and resource into developing our marketing efforts into highly targeted and personalised communications to ensure that our exhibitors, Hosted Buyers and trade visitors receive communications that are both relevant and interesting to them. The rapid developments of new technologies within the digital marketing sphere will definitely help make this personalised and targeted approach a key element of EIBTM’s digital marketing strategy.


Finally, the IBTM multiplatform event app, which includes the EIBTM dedicated app, enables our participants to view event information on each of our shows from the convenience of their handheld device. We have developed a personalised login to allow Hosted Buyers and exhibitors to view their diary of appointments, as well as plan their journey throughthe show and their events and education during EIBTM.




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