Technology will shape the Mice sector

Barnett … industry evolves constantly

The leading global event for the meetings, incentives, conferences, events and business travel industry, Ibtm World (formerly EIBTM), is back in Barcelona. The event gathers meetings industry professionals for three days (from November 29 to December 1 this year) of focused business opportunities, thought provoking professional education and networking.

We spoke to Graeme Barnett, senior exhibition director, ibtm world, for more insight into this year’s event.

What’s new at ibtm world this year?

This year at ibtm world there are many new exciting developments for all attendees. Our new app will allow all the exhibitors to capture all their leads and contacts from the show, which gives them a much more comprehensive way of tracking visitors to their stand. For the first time, hosted buyers will also be able to take part in a matchmaking system, which will provide tailor-made recommendations of suppliers they have the potential to meet. This is based on information, which they provide about their business objectives at the time of registration.

We are continually looking at ways in which we can showcase new technology and the evolution of the Innovation Zone now creates a dynamic area where attendees can look, try and sample new gadgets and technology which may enhance their events. We’re also on track to deliver a strong show in terms of the education line up within the Knowledge Programme this year with sessions and topics that have been created by the industry through research, so they really are what is on the minds of our attendees right now. The full line of session is available on the ibtm world website (

Finally, one of the big changes to the logistics of the show this year is that Barcelona has further invested in the infrastructure of the city and opened a new high speed metro that will take attendees directly from the airport to the Fira de Barcelona, this will be a great improvement for anyone travelling to and from the airport and ibtm world. The route will go directly to Terminal 1 at Barcelona International Airport, interconnecting with all other terminals and trains will run approximately every seven minutes.

Has there been any growth in exhibitors over last year? Where do you see the growth from?

Exhibitors this year reflect many who have returned, some every year, and newcomers so that the show continues to reflect the incredible developments within the meetings industry, whether this is the new world class sporting venues and conventions centres or event technology, there is always something new to see at the show. When companies choose to share an exhibitor’s stand, their details are added to in the run up to the show, so we always suggest visitors and Hosted Buyers keep an eye on the website information. Expect to see the world represented over the three days of the show.

What Mice trends are inbound into the GCC?

As well as huge outbound travel and business opportunities, it is clear to see that the meetings, incentive, conferences and events (Mice) market in the GCC has grown rapidly. With better connections to the GCC than ever, I think it’s easy to understand why the Mice market and business tourism is increasing in the area as well as why there is motivation across the GCC to increase its share of the global Mice market.

For example, a report from Alpen Capital suggests that international association meetings in the Middle East have more than tripled over the past 10 years. Supporting this statement, the last Amadeus report shows the GCC Mice industry is seeing continuous growth and that the Middle East is set to expand even further while attracting high-profile global events and state-of-the-art infrastructural investments.

Dubai is now recognised as the Mice leader of the Middle East, dominating the $1.3 billion market with a leading market share and is nearing the top of the list of destinations that international meetings planners consider for events. Dubai jumped 19 places in ICCA’s rankings from 2013 to 2014 to rank 44th in the world, while Abu Dhabi broke into the top 100 for the first time in 2012, compared to being placed 234th the year before.

By 2020, Dubai is set to attract 16.5 to 18 million leisure visitors and 3 to 4 million business visitors. Of this figure, Mice visitors that currently equate to 0.9 million, are estimated to double to between 1.7 and 1.9 million; the remaining will be independent business travellers. TCA Abu Dhabi suggested that the Mice sector is currently generating $US1.4billion per annum for Abu Dhabi and is expected to reach $2.4billion by 2020.

Where do you see the future of the meetings, events and incentive business?

It is always fascinating to me to see how meetings, events and incentive business continually change. I think technology will always play a huge part in defining the future of how events are both organised as well enhancing the experience of delegates during events.

Social media plays a huge part, incentives are back on the agenda following the slump after the crash of 2008 and the world is looking for value for money, as the industry is poised for vigorous growth. For example, the Technology Village at ibtm world has grown substantially and reflects the need for both organisers and attendees to stay up to date with what is new in the technology marketplace.

Rob Davidson, Managing Director of Mice Knowledge predicted in his 2015 Trends Watch Report that communications technology was one of the top sectors to experience growth in 2015 and that as technology continues to advance, cyber security is becoming an increasingly important issue among MICE professionals; over 44 per cent of technology company CEOs regard information security (cyber) risk as the biggest risk to their organisation.

Davidson’s research also concluded that fostering innovation and implementing disruptive technologies are the top strategic priorities and seen as a key strategy for growth.

For example, over 50 per cent of technology CEOs are devoting significant capital to new product development and the same percentage are investing in machine-to-machine technologies, industrial intranets and other aspects of technology. There has also been a huge increase in the developments of meetings design, from the concept and psychology behind the design of the content through to the actual feel and look of new dynamic learning environments.