Middle Eastern destinations and suppliers will be in strong demand at the Americas Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (AIBTM) in Orlando, Florida, in June. The three-day show, one of the primary meetings events in the whole of the Americas, is set to confirm the upswing in the region’s meetings business, with 3,000 expected visitors and more than 18,000 prescheduled appointments – a 20 percent increase on last year.
For the Middle East, the numbers represent the opportunity of securing an increasing share of business from North America. Post-show research in 2013 revealed that Hosted Buyers wanted a greater North African and Middle Eastern exhibitor presence at AIBTM 2014, with Egypt, the UAE, Jordan, Qatar and Morocco singled out as destinations of genuine interest. Of the buyers polled, 60 percent said they placed orders in excess of US$600,000 as a direct result of their participation at the 2013 show.
In advance of AIBTM 2014, meetme spoke with Michael Lyons, Show Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE), to understand how Middle Eastern destinations can best position themselves to capitalise on this interest.
What can you tell us about the growing popularity of the Middle East as a destination for meetings and incentive travel among US buyers?
Michael Lyons: At the 2013 show, we welcomed exhibitors from destinations such as Dubai and Jordan and suppliers such as Emirates airline and Abercrombie & Kent, who all had very prominent stands. The Hosted Buyer post-show survey from 2013 showed that not only were 63 percent planning a meeting or event overseas in 2014, but that there was a desire to know more about destinations such as Dubai, Egypt and Jordan.
From a North American perspective, there is a great deal of interest in international meetings now. American companies are becoming more global. They are opening offices and factories in other parts of the world and with that comes a need to host a meeting in places like Dubai and Qatar. As a result, planners are definitely saying they need to learn more about the places where they might be having meetings. They’re not holding them all in the Caribbean or Mexico anymore.