IN my column last month I took an optimistic outlook on the continuing expansion of the meetings sector in the Gulf despite the potential effects of global economic uncertainty.
This month, you will be glad to know, my optimism has not abated. Quite the opposite as the region looks forward to welcoming and attracting the largest gathering of meeting professionals at GIBTM.
There has been much debate in recent months on the growth of social media sites. Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter have indisputably changed the social network landscape; technology has revolutionised how business is undertaken and generation Y is bringing a fresh, modern approach to our business, not tied to how things have been done in the past.
This revolution in communications led me to some tough questioning. Do exhibitions and events have the same pulling power and importance they had in the past? How important are face-to-face meetings? Has the social landscape changed so much that it will fundamentally effect the future direction of the industry?
Well, taking a step back to the days before the likes of Facebook and Linkedin, let’s remember that face-to-face meetings are the original social media.
It seems to me that nowadays when the meetings industry thinks of social media strategies it thinks of doing things online; these are all good social-media tools but as a replacement for meeting face to face to do business, adding value, building real communities? I think and hope not.
A survey of 2,300 Harvard Business Review readers concluded that 95 per cent of business people believe face-to-face meetings are key to success in building long-term relationships and 89 per cent agree face-to-face meetings are essential for ‘sealing the deal’.
A further survey of business travellers by the Kellog School of Management found that 81per cent of corporate executives believed a slow economy calls for more contact with clients not less.
Regardless of the current economic climate and business trends throughout the world, exhibitions and events are still of prime importance to local and regional economies.
Any reader of TTN, who operates within the meeting industry, interested in increasing business and productivity, boosting efficiency, finding solutions, reducing costs, obtaining knowledge and seeking inspiration should consider being at GIBTM. I can assure you, you will not be disappointed in how attending will impact on your business in 2010 and beyond.
Graeme Barnett is exhibition director of GIBTM, taking place from March 29 to 31 at Adnec.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.