Graeme Barnett, Exhibition Director, tells Sydney Paulden of this year’s innovations that indicate the show is continuously evolving’The 25th annual EIBTM is the occasion for not just celebration, but for looking forward,’ says Graeme Barnett. He is the Exhibition Director and very rapidly goes on to point out what is new at EIBTM 2012 to be held in Barcelona from 27-29 November at the Fira Gran Via. Graeme has had wide and hands-on experience in the Reed’s Travel Exhibitions division and has worked in recent years, simultaneous with overseeing EIBTM, on the launch of AIBTM in Baltimore and CIBTM in Beijing.
‘We are constantly assessing what we have’, he says, ‘and looking for developments that would enrich the experience of exhibitors and visitors to EIBTM. The show does not stand still, but evolves to meet changing needs of exhibitors and visitors’.
One interesting innovation is the offer to slot buyers into the Appointments Programme without them having to be Hosted Buyers.
‘Many people nowadays’, explains Graeme, ‘prefer to make their own travel and hotel arrangements but still want us to assist them in making appointments in advance with the minimum of time and effort. As this suits all parties, the exhibitors, the buyers and the show, we are now offering that service.’
More emphasis is to be placed on Business Travel facilities and services. ‘That is the “BT” in the EIBTM’, he comments. ‘It has tended to be overshadowed in recent times by the emphasis on the ‘I for Incentives’ and ‘M for Meetings’, but it is an important and integral part of the whole exhibition, of course. There is a trend to see all a company’s needs for hotels, group travel and individual travel as part of the procurement process. These jobs are merging and blending, so we have implanted a new sector in the show aimed expressly at people with those multiple responsibilities.’
Good news for Hosted Buyers is the extension of the number of airports that they can use to fly to Barcelona and greater flexibility in the duration of their stay.
An important new feature is the launch of the 2-hour EIBTM Forum on the day prior to the start of the exhibition itself. ‘This will provide en excellent additional opportunity for networking’, says Graeme. ‘We have been fortunate enough to get Barbara Kellerman, the James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Public Leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, as our Keynote speaker for the first session. Those buyers who are already in Barcelona and the people who will be manning the exhibition stands will be able to listen to Barbara and join in the discussions.’
EIBTM 2012 will bring in more Hosted Buyers than before. The total is now well over 4,000. According to Graeme anyone walking round the exhibition in November will see it generally about the size it has always been, but he admits that particularly from the Eurozone some countries have had to curb their budgets. ‘They are all still there, of course, but some with slightly less square metres, which is understandable. There haven’t been really drastic cutbacks, because those countries with the biggest financial problems still see MICE and Business Tourism as a priority means of earning currency and boosting their economy. Some reports put the per diem spend of delegates and incentive award winners as high as seven times greater than the average holidaymaker.’
The city of Barcelona is itself a great example of this emphasis on MICE revenue. It is in the top three cities of the world measured in terms of its popularity as a venue for conventions and meetings.
‘This’, comments Graeme Barnett, ‘is because it appreciates that MICE business is at the heart of much of its revenue and reputation and it goes to any lengths to make organisers feel welcome. EIBTM has an Executive Council that meets in Barcelona twice a year. Once in spring to review the previous event and again in September to take a detailed look at the pre-planning for the next event. Represented on the Council are the city’s Convention Bureau, the Municipal Council, the Fira exhibition venue and the transport authorities. No event could wish for closer co-operation or better service from the people in authority in its location. It is a win-win situation, as all the constituent members of the Executive gain to benefit from the success of the whole project.’