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Meeting & Incentive Forums Thrive Despite Recession

Growth of pre-scheduled meeting events highlights importance of meeting clients in a recession

Meeting and Incentive Forums (http://www.mi-forums.com) have been able to buck the declining trend in the international MICE market by continuing to experience steady growth despite the recession. Attendance to the Forums - which offer a series of pre-scheduled meetings between high-quality MICE buyers and suppliers - has increased this year, with 20% more exhibitors from 27 different countries attending the European Meeting & Incentive Forum – Spring 2009, in comparison to last year, showing an obvious increase of investment in face-to-face sales. The interest from worldwide high-quality buyers has improved with representatives from Nike, American Express and IBM all in attendance at the Forum which was held in Prague last month. The number of enquiries from buyers has also remained steady in comparison to last year with exhibitors receiving an average of 3.6 enquiries as a direct result of attending the Forum.

“There is still plenty of MICE business in the current market, but to win it, suppliers have to get in touch with the changing needs of the buyer and be flexible,” says Richard Barnes, chief operating officer at Great Hotels Organisation. “The suppliers that are doing best in this recession are those that are focusing on meeting the buyers face-to-face to gain this knowledge. The M&I Forums provide the perfect environment for this to happen and that is why demand for the Forums is still growing despite the market conditions.”

“More than ever we are looking at reducing the cost for our meetings and events which forces us to look at alternative venues that we have not worked with before,” says Anouk Kreek, operations manager events management & travel services for Nike EMEA. “It is crucial to meet suppliers face-to-face and build a good relationship with them in order to understand what they have to offer and ensure they understand our requirements.”

“In difficult times like these we must make sure we meet with solid buyers that can make things happen,” says João Pinto Coelho, sales director at Quinta da Marinha Resort, Portugal. “Building relationships with these buyers and understanding how their business works is key to selling our property effectively and the Meeting & Incentive Forums always give us this chance”.

The next Meeting & Incentive Forum will be for US MICE buyers and will take place at The Breakers Palm Beach, Florida, US from 20 - 22 September 2009. This will shortly be followed by the first Meeting & Incentive Forum Asia held at The Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel in Macau, China from 27 – 29 September 2009. The final Forum of the year will be for European buyers and will take place at the Grande Real Santa Eulalia Hotel in the Algarve, Portugal from 13 - 17 October 2009.

For more information on Meeting & Incentive Forums and, please visit http://www.mi-forums.com/.

To attend a Meeting & Incentive Forum as a MICE supplier, please contact Delphine Delacroix, events sales director on +44 (0) 20 7380 8587 ddelacroix@mi-forums.com.

To attend a Meeting & Incentive Forum as a hosted buyer, please contact Elsa Mouget, hosted buyer programme manager on +44 (0) 20 7380 3729 emouget@ghorg.com.

-ends-

For press enquiries please contact:

Brooke Jester - Marketing and PR Executive, Great Hotels Organisation

Note to editors:

Meeting & Incentive Forums

Meeting & Incentive Forums (http://www.mi-forums.com) are part of Big Worldwide, a global, privately owned travel, technology and media company headquartered in London. The first Meeting & Incentive Forum was launched in 2003 in London as a solution to a marketplace that was demanding a fresh approach. The Meeting & Incentive Forums offer MICE suppliers the opportunity to attend an event with vetted, hand selected MICE buyers, all of whom have confirmed budgets to spend. Participating suppliers conduct a series of private 20-minute meetings with 50 qualified buyers during the four-day events. All meetings are pre-scheduled, with the buyers themselves booking the appointments so that the suppliers can be assured of their genuine interest in the product. Buyers attend the events for two days and can choose which dates they prefer to attend. Networking opportunities are presented throughout the events including lunches, refreshment breaks, champagne receptions, gala dinners and social activities which are also included.

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