Strong Mideast contingent at IBTM World


The Middle East is represented by 156 confirmed exhibitors at IBTM World 2022, which takes place at Fira, Barcelona, from November 29 to December 1. David Thompson, IBTM World Event Director, tells TTN about the key theme of this year’s event, the growing popularity of the Middle East market and how MICE is returning differently.


What is the event theme this year and how does it resonate with the changing world?

The theme of this year’s event is culture creation. While business events are back to fill the gap they left, they have also stepped up to fill a new gap that has emerged; they are now the unique place to create real, human, cross-team, cross-business cultures, and it is creating culture that we are celebrating at IBTM World 2022.

We recognise that workplaces around the world have changed, and the office culture of the past has disappeared. This year’s show will bring back the togetherness, sharing of ideas and engaging with like-minded peers that we all crave.

In line with this, IBTM World’s networking events will reflect the unique culture of different destinations as we know that post-pandemic, people who take business trips are more likely to lengthen their stay and combine it with a cultural or sightseeing trip in the destination country. This includes our hugely popular Networking Hour on the show floor, Club Night, and the Welcome Reception on day one with food, live music and dancing.

Situated in the heart of the action on the show floor, our market-leading Knowledge programme will build upon the event’s core cultural theme by including session tracks on connections, business, careers, brands, and experiences, delivering real world solutions, and sparking ideas and creativity. IBTM Accelerate will also showcase innovative ideas and have a roster delivering inspirational short talks. 


What are the new initiatives at IBTM World this year?

We know that in event design it is culture that makes experiences unique and memorable and so IBTM World is going on a Culture Roadshow to celebrate our destinations and suppliers around the world, and their cultures. The roadshow is designed to explore how destinations use their unique cultures to create limitless potential for events as well as showcasing to delegates the enriching, one-of-a-kind cultural experiences these destinations have to offer.

To free up time in buyers’ schedules to allow them to attend other educational sessions and meetings over the course of the event, this year our Corporate Experiences Programme and Association Leaders Forum will take place the day before the official start of the event, on Monday, November 28.

The Association Leaders’ Forum will consider the role that associations can play in our changeable world and discuss how to leverage such challenges and opportunities to increase the impact of future events. Issues such as sustainability, diversity and inclusion, socioeconomic instability, wellbeing, and creativity will be explored through case studies, interactive sessions and round table discussions.

IBTM World 2022 will also be smarter than ever as we incorporate some new and returning technology to enhance the experience for all of our attendees. For example, we’re working with Events Air to improve our leading matchmaking technology, to ensure exhibitors and buyers get in front of the right people. We’re also introducing recommendations of who to meet for our valued Visitor Buyers, as well as bringing back our popular contactless lead capture app, Emperia, which allows exhibitors to seamlessly collect leads and focus on the conversation at hand.


What is the response from the Middle East market?

We have seen an extremely strong response from the Middle East market with 156 confirmed exhibitors so far. This makes it the third highest region for exhibitors, preceded only by North America and Europe.

We’re delighted to be welcoming buyers offering a wide range of products and services including 48 destinations, 38 conference and meeting venues, 31 catering providers, and six technology and app providers. The Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Best of Bahrain, Dubai World Trade Centre, Emirates, and Tyche Tours are among them.

Middle Eastern buyers will be represented equally as strongly at this year’s IBTM World with a good mix of agency, corporate and association buyers. This includes companies such as BCD, Dnata, Saudi Telecom Company, GTS, and Hudson & Parker.

We’re also seeing huge interest from the Middle East in terms of visitor numbers and are on track to welcome more visitors from the region than in 2019.


What are MICE buyers looking for this year that is different from what they sought in the previous years?

Our industry is still dealing with a skills shortage brought about by the pandemic which means recruiting, training and retaining talent is now more important than ever. This stretching of resources means that people are re-evaluating which events to go to, and which ones will bring them the greatest ROI. This is why it’s so important that events demonstrate their value and give attendees tangible take-homes.

Event planners lost venue contacts as a result of the pandemic, or found that, post-pandemic, clients were requesting different event formats, so three days of one-to-one business meetings with some of the world’s top suppliers and destinations is invaluable to refresh contact lists and explore new destinations and event options.

Event organisers are also increasingly pushed for time, so at IBTM World they can conduct meetings with their chosen suppliers and come away with a huge number of valuable leads and inspirational ideas, all under one roof and in three days.

Our Knowledge Programme and Association Leaders’ Forum also explore the new challenges facing events professionals today, and dive head-first into tackling the impact on events of some of the world’s most pressing issues including climate change and socioeconomic instability. They have been designed to help delegates skill up to address these challenges but, also, find new opportunities within them to create positive change in the events landscape.