. . . . and the Hosted Buyer scheme even more flexible”, Steve Knight tells Sydney PauldenFor a new event, The Meetings Show is rapidly claiming a high profile place in the MICE diary. Launched in July 2013, the second Show will take place at Olympia London from 8th to 10 July 2014 – and its Exhibition Director, Steve Knight, has lots of good news to report.
‘Not only can we see a big increase in the space taken by UK exhibitors’, he says, ‘but the surge in bookings from international exhibitors means that it will still be very much 50/50. Overseas first-time exhibitors this year include Dubai, Norway, Spain, Portugal and Turkey. They will make a very significant contribution. Plus, the multi-national Accor hotel group will now be participating’.
He is also very pleased that last year’s exhibitors are not only coming back but many are taking bigger spaces. ‘InterContinental Hotel Group is expanding its presence. Cardiff, Scotland, London are all making sure they have substantial representation’.
Similarly the balance between UK and overseas visiting buyers will be maintained, but again in larger numbers. An important plank for the launch of the new show was the Hosted Buyers element, unusual for a MICE exhibition in the UK. About 50% of buyers in attendance will be from the UK and close to 50% from around mainland Europe.
‘We are very pleased’, Steve adds, ‘to see how many more event agencies and hotel booking agencies are signing up as Hosted Buyers this year’.
Steve points out that they are constantly examining what Hosted Buyers want and are carefully tailoring services to suit. Flexibility is a prime consideration. ‘Hosted Buyers are expected to do just eight face-to-face meetings a day, each of 15 minutes. This then leaves them lots of time to follow up other leads and interests. The meetings are with exhibitors that the buyers select for themselves. Exhibitors can ask to meet particular buyers, but these meetings are only scheduled if the buyers themselves agree. No one is fixed up with meetings they do not want’.
Noting that the duration of several MICE shows have been reduced by a day this year, I asked Steve if this had been a consideration for The Meetings Show.
‘No’, was his reply. ‘We cannot be compared because our model is different, mainly because we are so much dedicated to our Hosted Buyer scheme. We don’t have the problem of a show tailing off towards the end. There are still appointments to be fulfilled, as buyers can opt for 2-day attendance, such as Tuesday-plus-Wednesday or Wednesday-plus-Thursday. In addition, we have a busy education programme throughout the show and we shall soon be announcing new networking ideas. And, of course, we offer post-show tours, which will start immediately after the close on Thursday.’
I also asked Steve if he thought there was too much of a proliferation of new MICE shows around the world.
‘Not at all’, was his forthright reply. ‘There are without doubt more of them being launched, but, in my opinion, that is a very encouraging sign. It is evidence that at last the world is recognising the value and importance of the MICE sector. More and more people are obviously willing to spend time and money showing what facilities they have to offer; and more and more organisers are willing to spend the time to meet them’.
Full details of The Meetings Show 2014 are at w.themeetingsshow.com