The Meetings Show UK misses hosted buyer target

The Meetings Show UK 2013 has attracted 500 hosted buyers, failing to meet its original 1,500 target, despite a £1m investment.

The Meetings Show UK in action
The Meetings Show UK in action

Of the 500 hosted buyers at the three-day show, some 58% are international and 42% are from the UK.

Talking exclusively to C&IT, Paul Kennedy, strategic business advisor for The Meetings Show, said: "The original target was 1,500 and that was the original show plan. When we went to market we were clear about our budget commitment for a £1m hosted buyer programme. However, in our research, two trends emerged: that there were less Brits that wanted to be hosted and many buyers wanted to be hosted for an extra night. We didn’t expect that, so we shifted a lot of our resources into doing that.

"About 75% of hosted buyers are now doing a two-night visit, which gives them much more time in the show and equates to 6,700 pre-scheduled appointments, which no one has ever seen before in the UK."

The breakdown of buyers are as follows:

Association - 8.1%

PCO/AMC - 8.5%

Corporate - 9.5%

Event management companies - 37.7%

Incentive Houses - 18.8%

Venue finding companies - 17.4%

Kennedy added that next year the show will focus more on 'part hosted' options, allowing buyers to arrange their own travel and accommodation and to attend fewer appointments.

Some early impressions of the inaugural show have been positive. Julia Gallagher, Visit Brighton’s convention bureau manager, said: "It has been a brilliant first day. I have been impressed by the quality and quantity of buyers. I’ve already got a folder full of enquiries and if the show were to end today, I would have achieved real value for money.

"While the quantity of the hosted buyers has been down, the quality of the hosted visitor has more than compensated for that. Hopefully in year two the profile of the show will have grown and will attract more hosted buyers.

"The emergence of this show means there are two competing shows and they will both have to work very hard to gain the loyalty of the exhibitors and when budgets are very tight a quality product needs to be delivered."

Tracy Halliwell, director of Business Tourism and Major Events for London & Partners, said: "We have seen a promising start with a good range of European buyers coming to talk to us, and we are pleased to see a good array of London venues exhibiting alongside London & Partners.

"There seems to be a good appetite to do business, so we're looking forward to a busy rest of the week and we are really pleased to support this new business tourism event for London."

The Meetings Show is taking place at Olympia until Thursday 11 July and has attracted more than 300 exhibitors and is offering 190 educational sessions.

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