EIBTM turns 25
BY ELIZABETH RICH
The first major international tradeshow developed for the meetings industry celebrated its 25th birthday in Barcelona at the end of November 2012.
In mixed global conditions, the industry continues to prove its resilience, although changes are self evident.
EIBTM took the opportunity to look back over 25 years at its 2012 show, with Corbin Ball’s 1987-2012 event technology timeline reminding the industry just how far it had come. Powerpoint 1.0 was released in ’87, the world wide web didn’t come along until 1990, and the first online meeting registration tools appeared in 1995.
Apps and social media, which now dominate the technology space, weren’t on the radar until a few short years ago. EIBTM’s Technology & Events Services Village, launched in 2003, hit a record size in 2012 with 17 new exhibitors on the previous year.
Graeme Barnett, Reed Travel Exhibitions, EIBTM event director confirmed the importance of this dedicated show section: “Some 78 per cent of hosted buyers from 2011 confirmed that it’s a priority for them in their appointments diary as they want to keep up to date with what’s new.”
While the latest whiz bang technology was on show, on a lighter note, it was fun to see that free beer still works! A mobile apps exhibitor reckoned the 100 euros spend on a beer keg at his stand was his best marketing investment, attracting a crowd and creating a happy buzz at the stand.
There was much to absorb. SpotMe’s wall of ipads was a great idea. Gamification continues to evolve for the events industry. You could have spent hours in the Technology Village alone, absorbing the latest and greatest in The Future Events Experience seminar room on the show floor.
The amount of education now being provided at trade shows continues to expand. For the buyer with time and careful planning, these trade shows can double up as defacto industry conferences, maximising time out of the office, without the stiff registration fee.
While trade shows are all about face to face contact, and the 15,000+ punters at EIBTM 2012 are a testament to this, the changing nature of the industry is reflected in the delivery of content at the show. This year, EIBTM went hybrid, with online real time participation in some sessions possible for those who couldn’t make it to Barcelona. Or if you didn’t have the time onsite, you can still view the sessions online on the EIBTM website.
Like many industry shows, EIBTM’s positive vibe reflected the optimistic nature of the industry, relentlessly upbeat regardless of the challenges confronted. These challenges largely lie in Europe, with budgets tight and delegate numbers constrained. As UK’s Rob Davidson reported in his annual industry report, the bullish approach at the start of 2012 had been replaced with an increasing air of caution thanks to a struggling European economy. The importance of meetings being seen as part of the solution, not the problem, is the emphasis Davidson believes the European industry especially needs to take onboard.
Davidson admits he was continually rewriting his report as the year progressed and data changed, and he saw a year (and planet) of two halves. He noted the growth of Brazil, set to take over the UK as the world’s sixth largest economy and possibly overtaking Germany by 2020. He also picked up on the growth of trade corridors between the likes of China, South America and Africa and plans taking a closer look at the correlation between trade and meetings growth in the coming year.
Another industry analyst, Sally Greenhill, told us that Poland and Turkey are current hot destinations in Europe. Thankfully, the estimated $150 billion Chinese meetings market was still booming. Greenhill says we should watch out for the CIVETS countries (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa) which are on the rise in the meetings game.
AMEX’s global research confirmed what we all suspected: that Europe is flat with budgets down, airfares up, and more regional or local meetings. Globally there has been a 2.2 per cent increase in meetings, but this has largely been led by Asian growth. The surprise was no increase in virtual meetings showing up in the AMEX survey data, with 74 per cent of its corporate clients having no “virtual meetings” policy. Even though the tools exist, no one appears to be taking ownership in the corporate departments. The IKEA story below counters this claim.
AMEX raised the problem of e-RFPs which are choking the system, believing more work is needed to qualify and better manage these leads.
Industry reports can be downloaded from the EIBTM website by visiting www.eibtm.com.
EIBTM dates for 2013 – November 19-21.
The Australian stand at EIBTM seemed a bit on the small side in 2012, with only five partners under the Tourism Australia space: Adelaide Convention Centre; arinex DMC; Cairns Convention Centre; Melbourne (MCVB and MCEC); and Sydney (Business Events Sydney and The Star).
Back in 2001 EIBTM made a smart move from Geneva to Barcelona and has just confirmed it intends to remain there until at least 2016. This regional city is a noteworthy industry case study in itself. Consistently ranking as one of the top three worldwide meetings cities by ICCA, Barcelona’s success is a tribute to the city’s vibrancy, strong marketing, infrastructure and accessibility. It has not looked back since it hosted the Olympics some 20 years ago.
This continued strength is remarkable considering the relatively small budget of the Barcelona Convention Bureau and the ongoing woes of the Spanish economy. The appeal of the city far outweighs its reputation of having some of the finest pickpockets in Europe. A combination of Catalonian heritage fused with Gaudi’s excessive brilliance, an eclectic approach to modern art, architecture and gastronomy makes for a heady mix which gives the city an energy attracting young and old alike.
The city centre is alive with residents, local markets, and young skateboarders. A stroll down Las Ramblas, through the Gothic Quarter and Plaça Catalunya ablaze with stunning Christmas lights was a treat for EIBTM delegates who grabbed the opportunity.