Price alone is not the key for Middle Eastern meeting planners, according to a new survey released at the Gulf Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings exhibition (GIBTM). The inaugural Middle East Buyers Report revealed that, on average, 55 per cent of regional meeting planners ranked price as the key driver when choosing a venue.
The report was unveiled by author Rob Davidson (pictured), Senior Lecturer in Events Management at the University of Greenwich, London, at Reed Travel Exhibitions’ tradeshow GIBTM 2014 in Abu Dhabi, 25 March.
The report surveyed planners from 10 countries in the Middle East and it seems it is a myth that they are highly price-conscious. When asked which features were most important when choosing a venue, the buyers put price in fourth place (48%) behind ease of access (61%), safety and security (52%), and professionalism of staff (52%).
It was a similar response when meeting planners were asked about the least helpful type of behaviour of venue staff. Inflexibility in price negotiation came in fourth position (55%), behind venue changes not communicated (61%), slow staff response (58%) and staff turnover (58%).
“Another interesting statistic was the fact that the flexibility of meetings space ranked higher than price, when considering which features of a venue were most important to a buyer,” said Davidson.
“The study analysed the preferences of Middle East-based meeting planners in terms of the types of destinations and venues that they choose for their events, but also how they wish to interact with the sales and marketing professionals that are competing to host those events,” Davidson added.
Other highlights of the study were that the UAE is the leading destination with 66 per cent of meeting planners reporting having held meetings there in the last two years.
Outside of the region, approximately 70 per cent of planners also said they had selected European destinations for their events with France, Spain, Austria, Italy and Turkey, respectively, the most popular countries.
Almost 50 per cent of respondents have also held events in Asian countries, with Malaysia, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka the top three ranked destinations.
The report also found that 97.5 per cent of respondents opt for hotels in terms of venue preference.
The research formed part of the enhanced GIBTM Knowledge programme.
The trade show, says organisers, saw 8,000 face-to-face appointments arranged alongside an expanded line-up of interactive seminars and panel sessions.
GIBTM expected 250 regional and international Hosted Buyers from 36 countries and 300 exhibitors from 35 destinations to have attended this year’s show.
Exhibitors from Kazakhstan, Russia, Morocco, South Africa and South Korea made their show debuts.
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