Middle East MICE market adopts ’affordable luxury’ position

‘Affordable luxury’ is the positioning of most destinations in the Gulf region, a new survey claims,  and, despite concerns over political stability, the region is more affordable and the infrastructure more developed than ever before.
The Fifth Meetings Industry Research Report 2011 into the Middle Eastern MICE market, presented by Sally Greenhill from The Right Solution and Rob Nicholas of regional Meetme magazine at the Gulf Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition in Abu Dhabi 28 March, claimed key destinations in the region can expect continued growth in the volume of meetings and events.
The research was undertaken during January and February 2011, with responses taken from 600 international and regional buyers and suppliers.
“Last year we identified a shift in dynamics between the key proponents in the meetings industry – hotels and DMCs – as the scale of supply and demand weighted more heavily on the supply side,” said Rob Nicholas. “This has continued into 2011 and many of the region’s leading hotels now have block bookings and healthy targets for group quotas,” he added.
“Affordable luxury is the positioning of most destinations in the Gulf region and right now it is more affordable and the infrastructure is more developed than ever before. The propositions available in this region are quite unlike anywhere else,” he said.
Buyer respondents organised an average of 6.2 events in the Middle East and North Africa region in 2010, with 47 per cent bringing up to five events each to the region.
Other buyer statistics included 46 per cent organising more events in the last 12 months and 71 per cent predicting an increase in the number of events they will hold in the year ahead.
The UAE still dominates the region as the country of choice for meetings and events, with Dubai the most popular emirate. AbuDhabi rates top emirate in terms of customer satisfaction.
For 2012 and beyond Doha and Muscat could prove a serious challenge due to their new international and inter-regional air routes and convention centres.
The survey claims the mean number of delegates attending events in the last 12 months was just one up on the 207 figure from last year, while the region has a shorter mean duration for events than Europe, at 3.37 days.
Event budgets dropped significantly, to US$1.89m compared to a mean figure of $2.3m last year. Cost and quality of accommodation remain the top priorities, with security coming in at third place in the survey responses.
On the supplier side, 71 per cent anticipate the value of their business will increase and 86 per cent say they will be developing new business from the region in 2011/12. On average they are devoting 14 per cent of their marketing budget to activities in the region.
Suppliers say the key to increasing their business includes political stability and security, greater awareness of what the region has to offer through increased marketing, economic growth and improved financial climate, increased air routes and access and an easier visa process.

The full Fifth Middle East Meetings Industry Research Report 2011 is available from gibtm.com
Do you have a story for CN? Email: pcolston@mashmedia.net

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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